Because the 2012 draft is only two weeks from today, I thought this would be the perfect time to post another mock draft. This particular mock includes a trade-back scenario with the Patriots, which is similar to one of my previous mocks. However, this one will be slightly different, in that it will include a future first round pick. Let's take a look at how this scenario plays out.
Before we get into the details, I completely understand that many of you will bring up the fact that trading up isn't part of the Patriots DNA, and, for the most part, you would be correct. But, I would like to submit to you that I believe Belichik is itching to get his greasy hands on DE/OLB Melvin Ingram. Most of us have heard that the Jets have the hots for Ingram. This makes a ton of sense because he would fit perfectly in their 3-4 base defense. Can you imagine Ryan salivating right now while he thinks of all the ways he could use Ingram to pressure Brady? I could certainly see Belichik making a preemptive move up into the Panthers #9 spot in an effort to strike before the Jets do. The Patriots certainly wouldn't want to deal with Ingram over the next ten years, and they sure could use his abilities to improve their own paltry pass rush. Come with me after the jump to see how the Panthers fared in this draft scenario.
The Patriots trade their 2012 1st(27) and 2nd(48) round picks, along with a 2013 1st round pick for the Panthers #9 selection in order to take DE/OLB Melvin Ingram. If you're thinking that the Patriots would never do this because of how much they are giving up, consider this for a moment: These are desperate times for the Patriots and Belichik knows it. Keep in mind that this trade doesn't change the fact that the Patriots will still have their own 1st(31) and 2nd(63) round picks in this draft. When you look at it from their standpoint, they are only giving up two late first round round picks(provided they go deep in next seasons playoffs) and a pick in the middle of the 2nd round for the right to acquire a top ten selection. I think both sides come out looking pretty good on this one. Let us proceed with the draft itself.
1st- 27: WR Reuben Randle LSU
Randle may very well be the best receiver in this draft, and there's a real chance that he could be the sixth receiver taken after Blackmon, Floyd, Wright, Hill, and Jeffrey. Much like Jeffrey at South Carolina, Randle was truly a victim of poor quarterback play during his stint at LSU. But, make no mistake, he has all the tools to be an elite #1 receiver in the NFL. You can be sure that his potential hasn't escaped the notice of the Panthers either because he has already been listed as one of their thirty allotted visits.
2nd- 40: CB Janoris Jenkins Florida/North Alabama
I'm going out on a limb here in more ways than one on this selection. First, as far as I know, there have been no reports of the Panthers visiting with Jenkins. Second, I admittedly have a hard time believing Jenkins falls this far, but his past indiscretions may impact his draft day standing. Of course, there's also a chance that he does fall to forty and we still pass on him. But, Jenkins is the best cover corner in this draft, and the Panthers would be fools to let this guy pass by. Besides, if the Panthers already have their sights set on another cornerback late in the draft, so this pick is easier to swallow. Hint, hint.
2nd- 48: DE/OLB Bruce Irvin West Virginia
This is where it gets peculiar for me when you consider our previous pick. Irvin is another one of those guys that the Panthers have brought in for a visit, and for good reason. He could very well be the best pass rusher in this draft, and may have a similar impact as Von Miller did in his first year at Denver. The only problem is that he is another high risk player with a sketchy past. This is where I can't quite understand why the Panthers would be so interested in Irvin, and not Jenkins. Either way, going back-to-back on two players like Jenkins and Irvin is certainly a calculated risk, but one that I would be willing to take.
4th- 104: CB Casey Hayward Vanderbilt
I believe Hayward could be the steal of the draft and this is why I believe the Panthers should jump at the chance to take him this late. I know what you're thinking, and I am prepared to answer your concern. Did you predicit the Panthers would double dip at defensive tackle last year? Neither did I. This draft is certainly loaded when it comes to the cornerback position, and, as you know, the Panthers just so happen to need all the help they can get there. For all of those fans out there who are in the know when it comes to Hayward's suspect forty(4.57), don't forget his amazing short shuttle(3.90) and 3 cone(6.76) times. Furthermore, Hayward had very good success in the SEC throughout his career when covering some of that conference's best receivers.
5th- 143: S Brandon Taylor LSU
Why not double dip from the LSU talent pool. Taylor isn't getting the love he deserves, and I'm not quite sure why. Here's another guy that has a chance to be the best safety in the draft. I'll gladly take him in the fifth.
6th- 180: P Bryan Anger California
Could be the best punter in the draft. Enough said.
6th(comp) 207: CB/FS Brandon Hardin Oregon State
Here's a guy who may very well end up playing free safety in the NFL, but he certainly has the speed to play cornerback. Hardin is a good example of an under the radar prospect because he played very well at cornerback his junior season only to miss his entire senior season due to a shoulder injury. You can't argue with what the Panthers witnessed when they attended Oregon State's pro day. At 6'3", 218 lbs, Hardin ran a draw-dropping 4.38 forty, and put up an impressive 24 reps on the bench press. Amazingly, he also posted faster times in both the 60 yard shuttle(11.09) and 3 cone(4.03; 4.19) drills than his speedy teammate, James Rodgers. He's the next Jason Sehorn. Wait. Was that a bad comparison?
7th-216: DE Scott Solomon Rice
When posted a profile on Solomon about a month ago, many of you were pleasantly surprised by this extremely strong, high motor 4-3 defensive end. If you haven't seen him on tape before, here's your chance.