First, let me say how excited I am to be a member of Cat Scratch Reader and to post my first fanpost. I have been a loyal Panthers Fan for years and I never stop thinking of ways the team can get better. Which brings me to this years draft. There are so many ways we could draft this year and each scenario (if the players work out) could potentially put us over the top, as we all know our team is on the cusp.
It is easy to get smitten over a sexy reciever or even fall in love with a CB with shut down abilities. I too sometimes find myself day dreaming of Cam throwing dimes to Keenan Allen or maybe Justin Hunter on Sundays. There is a need at the wide reciever postion, but we are not starving... At least not yet. What I am getting at, is that success in the NFL starts up front and there is plenty of evidece to support this.
It may sound cliche, but a good offensive line will make Alex Smith and his recievers look good. On the other side of the coin, a nasty defensive line has the potential to turn a teams DB's into "studs". However, having great recievers is a waste when your QB has no time to read the coverage and get rid of the ball, furthermore a secondary (no matter how good) will be abused by a top 15 QB if they have all day to survey the field. With a good offensive line and a very talented passer (that I choose not to name), the Patriots make medicore recievers look amazing using this mold. Also, the 49'ers and the Ravens built thier team using this philosphy. Am I saying that a team with great skill players and average lines can't get hot and win games? Of course not.
It is my belief the Panthers can and should add difference making talent in the trenches on both sides of the ball in the early rounds of the draft. Doing this now, would afford us the luxury of taking a reciever, saftey, or cornerback in the earlier rounds in 2014. So lets get to the picks, shall we?
14.Lane Johnson OLT: Oklahoma
This is someone who has played QB, TE, and DE before becoming a mainstay on the Oklahoma offensive line. Johnson is the perfect storm of athletism and size measuring in at 303lbs and 6'6". This would mean that Jordan Gross would slide over to RT and Byron Bell would most likely move in to right guard. This is not the most exciting pick, but it will pay dividends for the next decade by keeping Cam's uniform clean.
44.Kawann Short DT: Purdue
Short could be the best defensive tackle to come out of the 2013 draft. He is that good. He led the big 10 in tackles for a loss and has all the moves needed to get past NFL gaurds. I really think he will be there for us at 44 and the value this pick would bring is just outstanding.
105.Robert Alford CB: SE Louisiana
To be completely honest, I am not all that knowlegable when it comes to Alford. What I do know is that the Panthers have met with him and are showing strong interest in him. With Alford in the fold, we will have a young and talented group of cornerbacks to anchor our secondary.
141.Landry Jones QB: Oklahoma
Lets be honest with ourselves... Derek Anderson is alreay gone.. right? Soooo... If Cam goes down (knock on wood), do we want to see Pickles in there again. The answer to that riddle is no. Can Landry Jones run the read option? No. Can he run the rest of our offense. I like to think he can.
169: Cobi Hamilton WR: Arkansas
Hamilton may not last quite this long, but if he's there we should jump on this one. He has the speed and size ( 6'3") to put Lefell on the pine. He could even be our future #1. The upside is tremendous.
Now, lets go through a different scenario. I think we would all love an opportunity to trade back this year and possibly aquire a 2nd rounder. In this scenario, (this is unlikely), the Bengals offer one of their two 2nd rounders (53rd pick) to jump in to our spot. With this development... we could actually spring for a wide reciever with one of these 2nd rounders. Now the Panthers will have the 21st pick. This is my mock draft for this scenario...
21.Jonathon Cooper OG, UNC
This guy will come in and be an impact player for ten years! He is a really good run blocker and has elite potential as a pass blocker. He also can play center if needed. This type of pick would put our offense back in the top 5 and also protect the biggest thing that ever happened to the Carolina Panthers.
44. Justin Hunter WR: Tennesse
Hunter is in the mold of Randy Moss. He has great speed with his documented time of 4.44. Reports from the combine note that his routes were more polish than his counterpart Cordelle Patterson. Oh.. and he is 6'4" with big hands and was very productive in the best conference in college football. You have to love the tangables with this guy. Even if we failed to gain an additional 2nd round pick, I would not be too upset with this pick.
53. Jesse Williams DT: Alabama
Williams is a volkswagon, but with more horsepower. He would immediately stop teams from gashing us up the middle and allow the most talented linebackers in the league to rome free. This would give us the ability to use 3-4 looks more often with Williams in the middle.
105. D.J. Swearinger Safety: South Carolina
Dont get me wrong people if Baccari Rambo (safety from UGA) was available, then he would be the pick. However, we get someone who can flat our lay the wood here. Swearinger is solid in coverage and would most likely be a day one starter for us.
141. Tryann Mathieu CB: LSU
This could be amazing value for us here. I know that he projects as a nickle back with is size limitations, but there is a strong chance "The Captain" will be lost to free agency. That said, the honey badger could slide right in that void and maybe even challenge for one the starting CB spots, and possibly Joe Adams kick returning job...
169. Kyle Long OT: Oregan
This guy has tremendous size at 6'9" 300lbs. Long did a great job of protecting his quarterback during his tenure at Oregan. He may need sometime to develop into a NFL Offensive Tackle, but this guy could be worth the wait.
Mock drafts are often times a lot of wishfull thinking, but I feel these mocks are realistic. Would all of these picks pan out? Probably not.. But making sure you get impact players in the first two rounds is paramount. Cam Newton was not a sure thing. We gambled and hit the jackpot... We all know we were desperate during that draft, but now there is no need to roll the dice. We have the pieces needed for a deep playoff run, even without Gamble. Luke Kuechly was a for sure thing and look at the results. Last year, we were a playoff caliber team with 7-9 record regardless of what anyone says or thinks. My main focus and I think our teams main focus should be hitting on the first two rounds of the draft. If we can do this, then you can go ahead and clear your schedules for the NFC Championship.. Because we will be there.