I've waited this entire off-season to put forth my projections for our beloved Panthers in this year's NFL Draft. Why? A scientific experiment, in the loosest sense, to see if my opinion swings on a whim, or for a reason. Last year, I flipped and flopped so much it was ridiculous... and still came out with the wrong answer. This year, I've waited to the day before the Draft to give myself ample time to come to a sound conclusion. I've tried to not really endorse anyone until the process was complete. The closest, I believe, that I came to that was defending Dontari Poe. Let me be perfectly clear about this, I've never said, nor do I now believe, that Poe is worthy of the 9th overall selection. I was merely making the point that several other guys that a lot of fans want are "projection/ceiling" guys also... some with a much lower ceiling. Anyhoo, it's safe to say that my 2-month-ago self would be shocked.
The final result of my mock draft, contained not one, NOT ONE, of the guys that were "early favorites" from a couple months ago. That may not sound like a big deal, but I'm talking about a list of about 30 players and a full 7 round mock draft (including a trade to get a 3rd round pick) and none were there at the end. Some of that can be attributed to my previous lack of knowledge of the player I chose at the #9 spot.
After the jump, my picks and a (sometimes) brief description why.
With the 9th pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, The Carolina Panthers select... Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina.
Surprised? I sure as hell was. But, this guy is an amazing player, as anyone that has watched tape of him knows. When it comes to team need vs BPA, I think you get both with Gilmore.
There has been a trade... The Carolina Panthers trade the 40th and 104th picks to the Miami Dolphins, for the 42nd and 73rd picks in the 2012 NFL Draft.
In my mock, DE Andre Branch is still on the board and a likely target for the Panthers, especially since CB was addressed in the first round. Branch also would fill a huge need for the Dolphins, who are trying to restructure their defense. Both teams come out ahead on this deal: The Panthers only drop back 2 spots in the second, and now have a 1st, 2nd, 3rd and no 4th round selection, as opposed to a 1st, 2nd, no 3rd and a 4th; The Dolphins get their guy (that we could've stolen) and only swap a 3rd for a 4th. Trading the 73rd is even easier when you take into consideration that they also have the 72nd pick. I know this isn't perfect by that bastard trade value chart, so please spare me... much stranger things have happened.
With the 42nd Pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, The Carolina Panthers select... Vinny Curry, DE Marshall.
If motor is what you want, this is your guy, hands down. Curry would be a great compliment to Big Money and make our front 4 much more fearsome.
With the 73rd pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, The Carolina Panthers select... Brian Quick, WR Appalachian St.
6' 4", 220 lbs, 4.5 40, 80" wingspan, 34" vertical leap... yes, please.
With the 143rd pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, The Carolina Panthers select... Bryan Anger, P California.
He's the best punter available and drafting him would bring our total number of punters to 1.
With the 180th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, The Carolina Panthers select... Nate Potter, OT Boise State.
Solid value for the pick.
With the 207th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, The Carolina Panthers select... Hebron Fangupo, DT BYU.
Great value is he's still around.
With the 216th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, The Carolina Panthers select... Desmond Wynn OG, Rutgers.
There's a good chance that Wynn, the 13th rated OG could drop this far due to concerns that he is coming off shoulder surgery. If he's there, it's worth the gamble.
I don't feel I reached for any of the picks or gave myself a guy that probably wouldn't be available. I found at least 1 mock that showed the players available where I picked or lower (like that means anything). Well, there you have it... fire away.