Five weeks from now the Panthers will be knee deep in the 2012 draft, and hopefully all of the hours that they've spent scouting this particular group of prospects over the last several years will result in adding a bumper crop of talented players to this roster.
Today's stop along the pro day circuit brings us to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the headline acts were privileged to perform in the presence of 17 NFL teams, including the Panthers. Let's take a look at these three latter round prospects after the jump for a moment.
MLB Cornelius Arnick 6' 1" 232 lbs
If ever there were a prospect that you could describe as under the radar, Arnick would be that guy. One wouldn't expect an inside linebacker with 4.80 forty speed to finish his senior season with the second most tackles in the nation, but that's just what Arnick did. The only guy that had more tackles was none other than the Panthers most recent(known) visitor, Luke Kuechly. Although they may have been ranked first and second in the tackles category last season, their draft stock and perceived potential at the next level are virtually miles apart. As it currently seems to stand, Kuechly could go to the Panthers as high as the 9th pick, while Arnick could completely go undrafted. Of course, this chasm is about more than just speed, but when I watch this guy on tape, he looks to have more ability than his forty alone would suggest. I'd take him as high as the 6th round.
DE Tyrunn Walker 6' 3" 298 lbs
This guy immediately jumped out at me when I watched him on film. Interestingly, Walker is listed on the Tulsa team website at 265 lbs, which is in stark contrast to the 298 lbs he weighed at his pro day. I would imagine that this weight raised a few eyebrows, that is until he ran a 4.88 in the forty. I believe he is a poor man's Fletcher Cox at this point with potential to grow into something more. Like the highly gifted defensive tackle from Mississippi State, Walker could very well have all the tools to excel at all but one position(NT) on the defensive line in both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes. It is my opinion that he would be worth a 6th round pick.
WR/RB/KR Damaris Johnson 5' 7" 171 lbs
Size isn't the only thing that is keeping this prospect from getting more love. Before Johnson's senior season began, he and his girlfriend were caught stealing from a department store. Apparently, it must have been a high dollar item because he was charged with felony embezzlement. Fortunately, he was able to get his charge reduced to one year of probation. As anyone would expect from someone who is seeking redemption, Johnson has embraced the responsibility of his actions with transparency and contrition. Whether or not he can convince a team to draft him in spite of his past immaturity is yet to be seen, but his numbers speak for themselves. I would take a flier on him in the 7th round.
MLB Cornelius Arnick's Junior and Senior Season Stats
DE/DT Tyrunn Walker's Junior and Senior Season Stats
WR/RB/KR Damaris Johnson's Career Stats
|Kick Ret||Punt Ret|
If someone were holding a gun to your head, forcing you take one of these three prospects in the 7th round, which one would you choose?
MLB Cornelius Arnick (40 votes)
DE/DT Tyrunn Walker (105 votes)
WR/RB/KR Damaris Johnson (48 votes)
193 total votes