Ok fellow Panther fans, that day is near. Next week is the draft and when we add another big piece to our up and coming Panthers team. Now while being bored at work today I really started getting down to the nitty gritty and started thinking like a GM would think. So I came up with this model in my head and I have reached the conclusion that Stephon Gilmore or Fletcher Cox will be sporting a Carolina Panthers hat and holding up a Panthers jersey come next Thursday night. Below I will explain how I reached this conclusion.
I will be perfectly honest, this is simply more of a classic process of elimination type draft model. I don't have a fancy name or fancy math or anything of that nature. A lot of people on here really spend a lot of time and effort comimg up with their draft models and I applaud that. So, for starters I came to the conclusion we will not be drafting a LB in the 1st round, I just do not see that happening and for a few reasons such as the return of Jon Beason and Thomas Davis, the re signng of Jordan Senn and the spectacular play of James Anderson last season, not only that but I can't think of one LB that is a projected top 10 pick that would fit well with our 4-3 defense. I know some think Luke Kuechly will be a possibility, and I even made that prediction a few weeks ago but I just do not see how he fits. Now if Jon Beason was no longer with us, then Kuechly would make perfect sense. So in other words I put our chances at drafting a LB in the 1st about as slim as us drafting a safety in the 1st round, very very slim. So LB is out of the equation.
Now lets move on to the D line. This is where things get a little more murky. I know a lot of people think we should draft a DE but im just not buying it and here is why. Charles Johnson is our franchise DE, he has played really well the last 2 seasons and I see him getting better. Aside from Charles Johnson we already have solid talent at the position. I think Greg Hardy gets unfair criticism, they guy works and plays hard and while his stats dont jump out he has had a lot of QB pressures and is clutch, lets not forget he was coming off a motorcycle accident. We also have Thomas Kaiser who showed good flashes as did Antwan Applewhite. The bottom line is I just do not see a DE worth taking at 9 that would be a huge upgrade from what we have now at the poaition.
Next up we have DT. Now this is a position I think would serve us well to upgrade. I honestly was not too impressed with either Sione Fua or Mcclain for that matter last season. I was however impressed with Kearse and Neblett, the jury is still out on Ron Edwards. There is no denying we where just plain awful at stopping the run. So two defensive tackles that are rated high in this year's draft are Fletcher Cox and Dontari Poe. I really do not see us reaching for Poe at number 9 despite his strong combine showing I think Hurney has been around long enough to know good combines dont equal success in the NFL. Fletcher Cox on the other hand is solid all around and someone that can make an impact on day 1. So I would say the chances of us drafting Cox are quite high actually.
Last but not least, CB. Now this is a huge area of need for us in my opinion. Aside from Chris Gamble we have a very mediocre CB class. Munnerlyn was very below average last year and I saw no flashes from any other of the CBs on our team. Brandon Hogan much like Ron Edwards is still a big question mark. There is no denying the NFL is now a very pass heavy league, and unless you have good depth at CB its going to be tough to stop any high octane offense. Which brings me to Stephon Gilmore We all know Morris Claiborne will not fall to us, Dre Kirkpatrick's stock has fallen while Stephon Gilmore's stock seems to be rapidly rising. He has great size standing at 6'1 191 lbs and great speed running a 4.4 at the combine. Stephon Gilmore would instantly upgrade our CB class and solidify that position alongside Chris Gamble. Just imagine having 2 Chris Gambles at CB, that is what we would have with Gilmore added to the mix.
So lets recap. According to my model you can scratch both LB and safety out for our 1st round pick (if we go offense which I doubt, that does change this whole thing but im assuming we go defense which is very likely.) We are already solid at DE so scratch that position off your list. Which leaves us with DT and CB which then narrows down this to either Fletcher Cox or Stephon Gilmore being the pick at number 9. Fletcher Cox because he is the best DT in this draft class and Stephon Gilmore because he is now the 2nd best CB in the draft. Anyway if I was a betting man, I would definitley put my money on Fletcher Cox or Stephon Gilmore being our pick.