Hello all! Today I'm going to examine a few possibilities for the Carolina Panthers to take in April's Draft. The first of which is Morris Claiborne. I'm sure many of us would be ecstatic of Claiborne fell to us in the Draft, however there have been whispers of a trade as well. In addition, the Carolina Panthers could be potentially looking at the best overall player at #9 being none other than Trent Richardson. Now, this is an interesting pick to say the least. If Hurney and Richardson stick to their word, and want the best player available, the Alabama prospect would be the best on the board. Considered by many as a top 10 (or even top 5) prospect, Richardson might be the best value pick at #9.
I'm going to take an extended look at both possibilities, after the jump...
In a perfect world, Tampa Bay (who is the team most likely to take Morris Claiborne) falls in love with Trent Richardson, St. Louis takes an offensive lineman, and Jacksonville takes a pass rusher on defense and passes on Claiborne (or either team takes a guy like Michael Floyd). If this were to happen, I can say with near certainty that Miami would pass on Claiborne since they have a pretty good tandem of cornerbacks already. This allows Morris Claiborne, a player with great value at #9 and fills a position of great need for Carolina, to fall right into our laps. However, I would be lying if I said that this scenario is likely to happen. The Buccaneers are more likely to take a corner in this scenario, being that Aqib Talib has a history of character issues, Ronde Barber is getting old, and that they have a solid starter in Legarrette Blount at running back . So, the question is this; What is Carolina willing to give to take their cornerback of the future, who could possibly round out what is a questionable secondary? If we decide to trade with the Buccaneers, the trade will probably cost us at least another first round pick, and even possibly a second rounder. While Claiborne has been made out to be a few levels above many of the other prospects in the draft (even going as far as saying that he is better than Patrick Peterson was coming out), would filling our cornerback position be worth giving up the upper tier of a draft? In my opinion, no, unless we can get something else (player, later pick) packaged into the deal.
This is certainly an interesting pick. James Dator's article from yesterday got me thinking about Trent Richardson. Ranked by many as a top 10 overall prospect, anybody from the "Best Player Available" school of thought can agree that he would be the best player available. A trade-back would be favorable if Claiborne is not available (I am one who is still unsure about Dontari Poe at 9th overall). However, Richardson is the only player at this spot that could be worth a trade, and there aren't many teams willing to give up a lot for a running back in what is becoming a pass-oriented league. This is where the speculation begins. James brought up a good point about Jonathan Stewart. If the Panthers do decide to take Richardson, there is a very high chance that one of our backs is going to hit the trading block, and Stewart is the odd man out with Williams' shiny new contract. With Richardson, we would have a similar threat (maybe even better, he throws one HECK of a stiff arm). If we trade Stewart away and draft Richardson, our 2-back and Cam sets will still be available, and we will probably get a first rounder or a good player for Stewart. So Panthers fans, I sit here conflicted. Stewart is one of my favorite players to watch when he has the ball. But realistically, if we are at number 9 with no trade route, Trent Richardson is still a possibility.
So Panthers fans, what do you think about this? Am I wrong to think that we may end up going best player available rather than reaching for a defensive lineman? Are any of the pass rushers available worth the Number 9 pick? One thing is certain, April's draft cannot come fast enough!