Since the middle of the season I have been thinking about how the Panthers can improve during the draft. I was drooling over the thought of taking Star Lotulelei or Luke Joeckel with a top five pick. Then we went on the winning streak in the second half of the schedule, which dropped our draft position to the middle of the pack. My thinking changed and I started to look at prospects that would help us improve in areas of need. I know everyone says you have to take the best player available but you also have to take the best player available at a need position. So of course all of you know our needs and here are my thoughts.
One you build a team through the draft. Two you build a team through the lines: offensive and defensive. To me our biggest weakness is DT. This is a deep DT class, along with OG and OT class. Also you cannot solve every need in just one draft, there is always going to be a soft spot on your team. So the way I look at it, we improve our defensive line and our secondary will be better. Also if we improve our offensive line, the playmakers will do better. OG is more of a value position to me, not worth a super high pick. We can wait on a guard or tackle in the later rounds. I know this may sound crazy but I would love to see us take two DTs with our top two picks. More pressure on the QB puts less pressure to our CBs and Safeties. This is what I believe we should do if we cannot trade down.
First Round Possibilities: 1) Take Star if available (duh) 2) Take a run stuffing, non-flashy, pocket collapsing NT. There will be quite a few available when we pick. These include Jesse Williams (Alabama), Jonathan Hankins (Ohio State), John Jenkins (Georgia), Sylvester Williams (UNC). I will also include Sheldon Richardson (even though he is not as big) because as of now he ranks as a mid-first round pick. I know a couple of these guys might be a stretch, but they are all good players and fill a gigantic need. With one of these guys getting double teamed, that takes more bodies away for CJ and Hardy. 3) Take a Guard. Chance Warmack (Alabama) is the only guard worth a pick this high. Yet I think it is a stretch to spend such a high pick on an OG when you can pick up a pretty good one deep in the draft, if you know what you looking for. 4) Take a WR. Yes we can use one but I do not believe it is our biggest need.
Second Round Possibilities: 1) Take BPA 2) In my opinion, take ANOTHER defensive tackle. There will be some good DTs that are still available at the 44th pick. The two that come to mind, and I think will be there would be Kawann Short (Purdue) and Sharrif Floyd (Florida). Pairing one of these two with a big NT and our current DEs would make our defensive line quite formidable against any top notch offensive lines. Again a better defensive line will make the back end of the defense better (in my opinion) 3) Take an Offensive lineman here. Yes we do need an RG or an OT. There will be quite a few here available including Gabe Jackson (Miss State), Larry Warford (Kentucky), Lane Johnson (Oklahoma), Oday Aboushi (UVA), DJ Fluker (Alabama), Brennan Williams (UNC), or Kyle Long (Oregon). All of these guys would be a great addition to our team at a need. 4) Take a safety. From what I see, opinions on this safety class vary greatly. There is no elite talent here but there is lots of depth. A couple prospects that could be taken here are Tony Jefferson (Oklahoma), Matt Elam (Florida), Eric Reid (LSU), Phillip Thomas (Fresno State), Bacarri Rambo (Georgia), TJ McDonald (USC). I might have missed a couple and a few of these might be a stretch, but they fill a need. But the question is, are they worth it? 5) Take a CB. This is another position that is filled with depth and value. Johnathan Banks (Miss State), Jordan Poyer (Oregon State), Desmond Trufant (Washington), David Amerson (NC State) are just a few options in the second round. Again some might be a stretch, and again are they worth it? 6) My last option is take a Wide Receiver. To me this is the least desirable option because there aren’t many players worth taking with this pick that over value other positions of need. Prospects here include Robert Woods (USC), DeAndre Hopkins (Clemson), Justin Hunter (Tennessee), and Terrance Williams (Baylor).
Fourth Round Possibilities 1) Take BPA 2) Take a guard. There will probably be a couple prospects here that would be an upgrade to what we have as a reserve, and possibly start. My favorite is Omoregie Uzzi (Georgia Tech). He is a great run blocker, good size, and has a mean attitude on the field. Other possible picks depending on evaluation or even dropping in the draft include Hugh Thronton (Illinois), Alvin Baily (Arkansas), or JC Tretter (Cornell) 3) Again take another CB. This would be a more depth pick because I don’t believe any corners available at this pick that would start right away. Just to list a couple: Nickell Robey (USC) and Terry Hawthorne (Illinois). Some may reach for Tyrann Matheiu (LSU) to play a nickel corner. 4) Take a safety. This is about the same as the corners here. No need to repeat. A couple players to name are DJ Swearinger (South Carolina), Josh Evans (Florida), Ty Zimmerman (Kansas State) and Zeke Motta (Notre Dame). 5) Take a WR. Again this is low on my list because of value. I would prefer another lineman or defensive lineman over it. 6) Take a TE. This would definantly be more of a depth and development player. Just to name a few: Dion Sims (Michigan State), Nick Kasa (Colorado), Levine Toilolo (Stanford), and Joseph Fauria (UCLA)
Rounds 5 and 6 Possibilities I am not really going to get into these because I see it as about the same as the 4th round possibilities. This is just based upon needs and most of these players will just be added for depth, development and special teams. All I can say is I hope we have a good draft class again. We really need it for the future, depth, development, and because of cap issues. Hope you liked my take on it. Now start ripping me for my opinions.