We're now getting pretty close to the Draft, so I figured I'd go ahead and get on record with my official mock draft for the Panthers this year.
DISCLAIMER: I'm no spokesman for the Carolina Panthers, but do consider myself a diehard fan. This mock is just for fun, but, man, would I love to see it play out like this.
I'll explain the first pick before I make it, then subsequent picks after their selections.
On the first pick. I am not of the opinion LSU CB Mo Claiborne will be there, and I think the Panthers are lucky if UNC DE Quinton Coples is. If there is some trade down scenario that presents itself (Ryan looked sold on Q at UNC's Pro Day) I'm all ears. I'm not figuring that into the equation, however.
This board is also a slight departure from my earlier prediction. in my mind, Mississippi State DT Fletcher Cox has surpassed LSU DT Michael Brockers, though Hurney et al. could see it the other way. I don't think Memphis DT Dontari Poe is a legitimate top-10 pick. Period.
Other than that, I've pretty much had my guys since Bowl season, so... Without further ado, here are my picks. I made them in bold font because this is official.
1st Pick - #9 - Coples, Cox and Boston College LB Luke Kuechly.
This really requires no more conversation other than to say I feel like whatever you've read about Carolina picking a receiver with their first pick is a calculated ruse. I mean, a premier left tackle I could see, or at least one who could get there rather quickly, but anything else on offense is just too much of a luxury to miss out on possibly the second defender off the board.
After the Jump, we'll see how the Draft plays out over the next several rounds...
2nd Pick - #40 - USC WR Alshon Jeffrey, Montana CB Trumaine Johnson and 'Cuse DE Chandler Jones/Michigan State DT Jerel Worthy.
Jeffrey is a beast in my mind, and this is another "Thank goodness he's still there!" picks to follow up landing Q in the first.
I feel compelled to elaborate on Johnson. I'm really digging him - enough to move him ahead of VT CB Jayron Hosley and UVA CB Chase Minnifield, who I've always favored - due to his height and fluidity. This is probably a mistake when you've never watched the guy play except snippets on Youtube, but he looks the part moreso than they.
Glad I don't have to make those decisions in a pressurized situation. I also REALLY wish the Panthers were back in there at the bottom of the second round! This year is laced with bargains there.
The DE/DT pick is for whichever position didn't get addressed in the first round. Here, all things even, I myself would go with UCONN DT Kendall Reyes/UVA DE Cam Johnson, but I read Jones was in with Coples on CSR and Worthy was in in March on ProFootballTalk, so I'm allowing for that information.
Anyway, I feel like the two at the top would mean it's a moot point, and I salivate at the idea of Cam getting his pupil and Smitty getting someone to pull the double teams off him - ALL while being able to get the best D-lineman available with our first pick, since that's the biggest need.
Jeffrey is the best receiver for us in the draft, in my mind, outside of, perhaps, Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd. This would be a steal.
3rd Pick - #104 - Georgia CB/KR Brandon Boykin, Arkansas WR/KR Joe Adams and Arkansas DE Jake Bequette.
Here, I think Adams is the pick if Jeffrey doesn't slip to #40, which I almost wish would be the case even though Jeffrey was my original first pick. I think I've been tainted by the bad press, but I also really like Adams and was encouraged when the Panthers brought him in.
Boykin would receive first round consideration in any other year, but this one is loaded. He would be a great pick to address a pair of needs.
That said, if the Panthers have somehow neglected the pass rush off the end up to this point in the Draft (which is almost unimaginable to me), Bequette is the scoop here. He would come in and compete with Panthers DE Greg Hardy, and at least keep him fresh.
4th Pick - #145 - Cal P Bryan Angerer, Miami LB Sean Spence/NC State LB Terrell Manning and Miami WR Tommy Streeter.
It'd be really nice to get a surprise impact defender here if not go ahead and get the punter. Get the punter is definitely what I favor, though.
Along with drafting their new punt returner, bringing in I-Form and 3-WR offensive personnel and adding several key pieces on defense while developing even more that are already on the roster - the Panthers could play field position right into a division championship and bring the NFL Playoffs back to Charlotte. Yes We Cam!
Streeter is a backup plan to Jeffrey or Adams, and would be a nice addition here.
I also wouldn't be opposed to an offensive tackle prospect with potential here - is it still okay to want Cal OT Mitch Schwartz? I'm just looking defense or special teams here if I'm them.
FInally, my board is admittedly ACC and SEC heavy, because that's what I'm into.
So, for the record, that's Coples in the first, Jeffrey in the second, Boykin in the fourth and Angerer in the fifth. This could get scrambled and I'm happy anyway. This is just the way I would guide it myself.