The 2013 NFL draft is just around the corner. This will be the first draft of the Gettleman and Rivera era. I for one am excited to see how Gettleman drafts players that he sees improving this team moving forward. The Panthers really have to hit on their picks this year seeing that Gettleman and company will have to fill holes left from the personnel change over from the cuts he will have to make just to get under the salary cap for this upcoming league year. Here is a first look at the way the draft could shape up nicely for Carolina for now and going forward for years to come.
Round 1: 14th overall, Kenny Vaccaro free safety University of Texas
This would be perfect value at this point in the draft, It goes by the best player available (BPA) model for success. In the 2012 NFL draft even though the Panthers decided on a stud linebacker from Boston College in Luke Kuechly who just won the 2012 DROY the Panthers also courted the idea of taking Mark Barron with their first rounder if he would have been sitting on the board when it came time for the Panthers to use their pick. As we know he was taken two spots earlier at no. 7 overall to Tampa Bay.
Vaccaro is ranked the number one safety prospect in this years draft. This team took the best linebacker prospect in last years draft so in turn if the scouting department can convince Gettleman this would be the best pick for the Panthers going forward and taking another prospect that is the best at their position would be a smart move. Vaccaro also fits well with what Gettleman's approach could be in drafting players that he learned while with the Giants. That is wide receivers, pass rushers, and defensive backs.
Bringing in a safety of Kenny Vaccaro's skill set would give the defensive backs a leader back there just like Kuechly is now the leader of the defense. Plus Having some talent back behind Kuechly would make the defense even better going forward. Vaccaro could end up being to Kuechly as Ed Reed was to Ray Lewis.
Round 2: Kawann Short defensive tackle Purdue University
The Panthers take Kawann Short a solid defensive tackle prospect at good value here in the second round. This draft is deep at the defensie tackle spot and Short would help address the pass rush in the middle of that defensive line while being able to help in stopping the run. This addresses an area that the Panthers have not seriously addressed since the like of Kris Jenkins. Kawann Short is a first round caliber player but falls to us just at the right spot.
At 6'3" and weighing in at 308lbs Short has the frame to add 10 to 15 good pounds of muscle in a NFL strength and conditioning program. That would in turn put him as a load to handle at the NFL level. Gettleman would like this pick cause Short has the ability to be disruptive in the backfield and cause sacks and pressures on the QB from the defensive line.
The team will have to look at a defensive tackle somewhere in this draft. Ron Edwards most likely will get his release and Dwan Edwards will see what the open market will be willing to pay for his services. Out of all the defensive tackle prospects that the Panthers could look at taking with a pick, Short gives you the most bang for your buck if he is sitting there win Carolina picks in the second round.
Round 4: Da'Rick Rogers wide receiver University of Tennessee / Tennessee Tech
Yes, the Carolina Panthers get lucky and get the steal of this draft. Da' Rick Rogers was the best receiver at the University for Tennessee before he got kicked off the team for is very own stupid actions. Rogers was the best receiver in the SEC two years ago and one of the best if not the best in all of college football. He seems to have learned from his mistakes as he moved onto Tennessee Tech to continue playing football and cleaning up his act at the same time.
Rogers has the size at 6' 2" and a solid weight of 206 lbs. He is a touchdown scorer that Gettleman covets. If the coaches and Gettleman believe Rogers is on the right path and has matured to their liking this would be a goldmine pick from the stand point of talent wise. If Rogers did not get kicked off the Tennessee football squad or even got into trouble like he did Rogers would be the top wide receiver prospect on the board. Just the baggage will make his draft stock slide to the 3rd or 4th round.
Cam and the offense now under Shula could use another stud at wide receiver to open up the field for Cam. The team will look at a receiver early in this draft based on Gettleman talking about touchdown scorers on different occasions. Especially when questions have been brought up on what kind of players he wants on his teams. I am putting the wide receiver pick in the fourth round just based on how the previous two picks in this mock fell for the Panthers.
Round 5: Sio Moore outside linbacker University of Connecticut
If the Panthers release James Anderson and not knowing what will end up with Jon Beason far as him remaining a Panther or how he will hold up physically Carolina could be looking to draft another linebacker around this time in the draft to add depth and talent to the defense. Sio Moore would be good value at this time assuming he last this long draft weekend. Moore really helped his stock at the Senior Bowl and could be gone by the time Carolina is picking in the 5th. Carolina could go with a number of mid round linebacker prospects at this spot. Sio Moore could be a nice fit with the mixing back and forth from the 4/3 to the 3/4 looks that coach McDermott stated he was going to focus on this upcoming season.
Moore offers the ability to rush the passer and also is very good as a pass coverage linebacker. Those attributes will be coveted by defenses going forward with the NFL turning into the passing league that it has become. The teams LB corps could be decimated in a blink of an eye. With the like of Anderson gone, Beason remaining injured or just never the same and say Davis was to go down (Hoping this never happens) with another knee injury the team has our leader in Kuechly and throw in a Jason Phillips as our only other viable linebackers. It would best Gettleman to get another linebacker on this alone.
Round 6: Manase Foketi offensive tackle Kansas State / West Texas A@M
With the last known pick in the 2013 draft for the Panthers (subject to change). The Carolina Panthers take offensive tackle Manase Foketi from West Texas A@M and previously 3 years at K-State. This could be that diamond in the rough type of player that could come in and compete for the right tackle position. Foketi got injured while at Kansas State during his senior season. He finished his education there but wanted to use his last year of eligibility to go play somewhere else. So he ended up going to West Texas A@M to play one more year of college ball. I say this could be a later round offensive lineman that Carolina might use a pick on to help bolster the right side of the offensive line.
Foketi played left tackle in college. He will not be a left tackle in the NFL but he does possess nice size at 6'5" and 330 lbs. Foketi could be tried at either right guard or right tackle.
Hopefully Rivera and Gettleman come draft day will have a single vision on the future of this team now and moving towards a Super Bowl run in the not so distant future. This team has some nice pieces in place. Now lets see how Gettleman handles his first draft and gets the players Rivera needs to make this team take the next step. This draft is going to be one that either takes two steps forward or takes three steps back for this organization.