Hello everyone. I've been reading Cat Scratch Reader for about two years now and love it. It's become my number one source for Panthers news. ESPN has got nothing on you guys. I've never even so much as posted a comment, so this is me jumping into the deep end I guess. I write a little blog myself called Random Ramblings. It has no theme, hence the name, and I've written a few posts on the Panthers. Unfortunately most of my readers are there for the other posts. So I figured I'd share my latest Panthers blog on here with people who might (I hope) appreciate it. I simply copied and pasted it on here so hopefully the format works out. Let me know what you think.
As I'm sure all of you know, the 2012 NFL Draft begins on Thursday. I, for one, cannot wait. This is my favorite time of the off season. It's most likely because this is the only time of year when the Panthers add new players to the roster since they're so frugal during free agency. A couple months ago I made my first attempt at a mock draft, which you can find here. A lot has changed since then. Players have risen and fallen all over the draft board, so I decided to update it. As a bonus, I'm going to attempt predicting trades in this version. Trades are incredibly hard to predict but I believe that each one I include here has a chance to happen. Sit back, relax, and enjoy!Round 1. #16 overall. *Trade with New York Jets*
Michael Brockers - (DT LSU Sophomore 6'6" 320 lbs) The New York Jets have been rumored to desperately want South Carolina linebacker, Melvin Ingram. Ingram won't fall to the Jets' 16th overall pick so they look to move up. The Panthers are the beneficiary as they give up the number 9 overall pick, and gain the Jets' number 16 overall and 47 overall. I originally thought this would gain Carolina the Jets' number 77 and next years 3rd rounder. I then went back and looked at the 2007 draft when the Jets moved up to get Carolina's 14th overall pick from the 25th spot. In return, the Panthers received number 25 and 59 overall. The Jets took pro bowler Darrelle Revis and the Panthers selected two pro bowlers in Jon Beason and Ryan Kalil. I believe Marty Hurney and company can get a similar deal from the Jets again this year. Hopefully it will net them multiple elite players again as well.
Now on to Brockers. A surprise entry into this years draft, he has been dropping in many mock drafts here lately. No one doubts his ability. His readiness to contribute early on is the problem. He has the potential to be a great tackle in the NFL but it may take some time. Carolina will pray that Fletcher Cox drops to them here, but it's unlikely. The other option at tackle is Dontari Poe. I'm not that high on Poe since he couldn't dominate Conference USA opponents. He just reeks of major bust to me. The Panthers will snatch up Brockers and use him as a rotational player until he gets his feet underneath him and becomes an all-pro tackle.
Round 1. #22 overall. *Trade with Cleveland*
Dre Kirkpatrick - (CB Alabama Junior 6'3" 192) The Panthers trade an extra running back to jump back into the first round and select Kirkpatrick, who I think is the second best corner in this draft. With the recent signing of Mike Tolbert, Stewart becomes overkill in this talent laden backfield. I would prefer Carolina to trade DeAngelo Williams, but his new contract will scare away many teams. This, unfortunately, leaves Stewart as the odd man out. The Panthers ship out Stewart and this years 4th rounder, number 109, and receive Cleveland's 22nd overall pick. The Browns recently lost Payton Hillis to free agency and are in desperate need of a running game to help Colt McCoy out. This trade hinges on the Browns passing on Alabama's Trent Richardson with their first pick at number 4. If Hurney can workout the trade before the Browns make their selection, this deal could get done. The Panthers have proven in the past that they're not afraid to jump back into the latter half of the first round. In 2008 they traded back into the first at number 19 to select Jeff Otah.
Kirkpatrick has been falling down draft boards since being a clear top 10 pick early on. His slide is due in part to the fact that he was recently arrested for smoking weed. Fortunately playing corner in the NFL doesn't require too many brain cells so he should be okay there. On the field Dre is an amazing player. He's a huge man and may be one of the tallest corners in the NFL. Kirkpatrick is very physical and can reroute receivers with ease. The Panthers would plug him in opposite Gamble on day one. This would allow second year player, Brandon Hogan, to play in the slot until Gamble retires. This also has the added benefit of moving Captain Munnerlyn back to his more natural position inside.
Round 2. #40 overall.
Alshon Jeffery - (WR South Carolina Junior 6' 3" 216) And with their third pick, the Panthers select their third SEC player. Ron Rivera and Marty Hurney finally get Cam some more help. Jeffery is a big bodied receiver with the best hands in the draft. He does struggle creating separation, but that can be corrected with better route running. Jeffery's draft stock fell early on in the scouting process due to a lack of elite speed. Last time I checked Larry Fitzgerald wasn't very fast either. Rarely is Jeffery beaten for a jump ball, and this could pay off big time in the red zone. Carolina could finally have a big time replacement for Steve Smith. In a few more years of course.
Round 2. #47 overall. *From Jets*
George Iloka - (FS Bosie State Senior 6'4" 225) The Panthers continue to revamp their defense with another fresh body in the secondary. This may be too high for Iloka, but Carolina doesn't pick again until the 5th round when the pickens get slim at safety. Iloka is huge for a safety. With him playing behind Kirkpatrick, the Panthers could have a very physical secondary on one side. The Bosie State product would be an instant upgrade over the inept Sherrod Martin, of course, so would my six year old at this point. Martin looked lost last year and the defense struggled because of him. If Iloka becomes a starter then he's not a reach at number 47 in my book.
Round 3. *Traded to the Bears last year for Greg Olsen*
Round 4. *Traded to the Browns for this years 22nd pick*
Round 5. #143 overall.
Terrell Manning - (OLB North Carolina State Junior 6'2" 237) The Panthers look to add depth behind a solid linbacking corps with this pick. Jon Beason is coming off an achilles tendon injury and Thomas Davis is attempting to be the first player in history to come back after a third torn acl. Hopefully they can both come back better than ever. Just in case, Marty Hurney picks up an insurance policy in Manning. The NC St product is undersized but shows great speed and is a sure tackler. He reminds me a lot of current Panther James Anderson. It may be two to three years before the team sees a return on this investment, but that's what happens this late in the draft.
Round 6. #180 overall.
Joe Adams - (WR/KR Arkansas Senior 5'11" 179) The Panthers have made an effort to overhaul the special teams unit this year. They continue that trend by selecting Adams, who is an outstanding kick returner. I don't know that he will ever make the leap to full time receiver a la Steve Smith, but his skills as a return man are the motivation for this pick. It may be a stretch to think he lasts this long in the draft, but I'm banking on teams not coveting a player who is purely a special teams guy.
Round 6. #207 overall. *Compensatory pick*
Drew Butler - (P Georgia Senior 6'1" 203) There are really only two punters I think are worth drafting this year. Not that I'm an expert on punters. Fortunately they're both great at what they do. The Panthers luck out here and select the second best of the pair. Carolina released long time punter Jason Baker this year, so expect this pick to happen. If the other punter, Bryan Anger is still here, I expect him to be the pick though. This should complete the Panther's overhaul of their special teams unit.
Round 7. #216 overall.
Ronald Leary - (OG Memphis Senior 6'3" 315) With their final pick in the 2012 draft, the Panthers select a developmental offensive lineman. Carolina recently released Travelle Warton and let Geoff Schwartz walk in free agency. The line could use some depth, especially at the Guard position. Ronald Leary provides just that. He could develop into a solid starter down the road. I don't know that I would trust him in the lineup right away, but, this deep in the draft, potential is the name of the game.
There you have it. My final attempt at a mock draft. It's been very fun watching and writing about the draft over the last couple months. I look forward to doing it again next year. I, for one, am ready for some real football. The season can't get here soon enough. Thanks for reading.