Jeff Blake-US PRESSWIRE
After a busy two weeks between the combine and the start of free agency, the Panthers now have a few different needs than they did the last time I did a mock draft. Will that change who I think the Panthers will pick? I guess you'll just have to keep reading to find out...
Two weeks ago I did a mock draft, and since 23% of you don't know WTF you're talking about* I figured it would be in everyone's best interest if I took another shot at mocking who the Panthers will take on draft day.
As I said in my previous mock, I'm terrible at predicting the future. It's one of the main reasons I don't usually get into the whole mock draft scene, but this year I'm in the mood to share my thoughts on who the Panthers might take in the draft. Y'all should consider yourselves lucky.
Please note that I don't pretend to be a draft expert, and I'm not claiming to have an inside track on who may be picked by Carolina. These picks are simply my opinions. If you disagree, that's more than okay. In fact, if you disagree please share who you would pick instead in the comment thread. The exchange of ideas is kinda what this mock draft stuff is all about, right?
Anyway, here's my second super duper official mock draft.
(Note: I didn't put the number of each pick because a) I only know the first three because compensatory picks haven't been assigned yet, and b) it's easier for me to just do it by round. I also opted to avoid trades, because that makes this more complicated than it needs to be for my first mock.)
Desmond Trufant, CB (Washington)
First, here's what I said in my first mock draft about our cornerback situation:
Let's face it folks, Chris Gamble is as good as gone when the league year starts on March 12th. He's going to cost too much money against the salary cap, and the secondary still played well when he went on IR last season. I'm not saying he's not a good player anymore, but rather that he's a cap casualty and we just don't have the space available to retain him.
It turns out I was right. The Panthers cut Chris Gamble (and then he pulled a complete WTF move and retired). Now that it's official that we will be without Gamble in 2013 and beyond, the Panthers need to find a CB to fill the void left by Gamble's departure. In my first mock, I went with Rhodes because I believe the other guys they want to target will already be gone, and I don't think they will be able to trade down.
But, after some thought on the matter I decided to switch the pick to Trufant. While Rhodes is a good pick here, Trufant could turn out to be the better player. CBS Sports lists Trufant as the 20th overall player on the board, but I think he could be better than that. The Panthers pick #14 overall in the first round, so taking Trufant isn't a reach. If they take him, he becomes an instant starter on the other side of either Dockery, Thomas, or Norman and gives the Panthers a good cover corner to solidify the back end of the defense.
CBS Sports highlights some of his strengths in their preview, stating that he is:
Physical and fights for the ball when it's in the air, showing an excellent competitive nature. Doesn't shy from contact and will get his nose dirty in run support. Very good job tracking and highpointing with a top vertical to get his hands on the ball. Good bloodlines and understands the NFL process. Good experience as a four-year starter (47 career starts), spending time both inside and outside and in both man and zone coverage.
Looks to me like he would be a solid player for Carolina if they choose to go that route, and I think they will.
Larry Warford, OG (Kentucky)
I know what you're thinking: "But BW, you picked him last time." You're right, I did. I'm not going to change this pick. The Panthers need a Right Guard in the worst way, and that makes this pick one of the most logical selections the Panthers could make. I thought about picking Chance Warmack in the first round, but then I decided to take a better value with Warford in the 2nd. We all know that guards don't get drafted in the top 15 very often, and this year probably won't be any different. I don't think Warmack will be available when the Panthers pick in the 2nd round, and Warford is listed as the 3rd best guard prospect by CBS Sports and NFL Draft Scout.
I know the knock on Warford is that he's not the fleetest of foot, but he is a massive chunk of humanity who could open holes in the run game for both DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart (assuming both are on the roster like Gettleman has said he wants), and his pass blocking is good enough to help keep Cam Newton upright long enough to complete passes downfield.
So, if you didn't like this pick the first time, then I guess you won't like it this time. But, that's ok. I like the pick, and this is my mock draft and I'll mock him if I want to. (Said in my finest Lesley Gore voice. Note: for those who don't get the joke, you can click here.)
DeVonte Holloman, LB (South Carolina)
Still a homer pick, but Holloman fills a need as the Panthers lost both James Anderson and Jason Phillips on the first day of free agency. Holloman is a solid OLB who could be a value pick in the 4th round, and I don't see any reason why they shouldn't make this choice. He is a Gamecock, after all.
If him being a Gamecock isn't enough to convince you, and you care about strengths and weaknesses and stuff like that, then take a look at what CBS Sports has to say:
Strengths: Athletic-looking frame with a sturdy, thick base and long arms. Exhibits strong play-recognition and anticipation against the pass. Diagnoses the run early, and takes good angles to the football. Anticipates and approaches the gap with good timing on runs between the tackles.
Possesses ample lower body strength that helps to compensate for lack of flexibility when asked to hold ground/stack at the second level. Exhibits good backfield vision through traffic. Displays good instincts and timing when asked to make a play on the ball in the air. High-motor, aggressive player who doesn't shy away from making big-time contact.
Weaknesses: Lack of flexibility and first-step explosion from a stop hampers his ability to recover when he has over-shot his gap, or on cutback run plays that require him to redirect. Lacks fluidity to turn and run with tight ends or receivers down the field, without losing a step.
Only marginal top-end speed for the position. Doesn't get his arms extended enough when taking on blocks, and is too easily driven out of the play as a result. Pretty stiff laterally.
CBS Sports lists him as the 10th best OLB prospect, and he's projected to go in the 3rd round. Despite their projection I think he'll be there in the 4th, and the Panthers drafting him would make me very happy.
David Quessenberry, OT (San Jose State)
We need to find a replacement for Jordan Gross sooner rather than later, and I think the Panthers will try to nab Quessenberry in the 5th round since the top 3 LT's will probably be gone by the 14th overall pick. Quessenberry looks like the kind of guy who could come in and sit under Gross for 2 years before taking over the reigns in 2015 (or he could come in and start at RT his rookie year, depending on what the Panthers want to do with Byron Bell).
I know Quessenberry is slated to be a 4th round pick, but I think he'll fall through the cracks and land in the Panthers' lap in the 5th, and if that were to happen I believe they will pull the trigger.
Earl Wolff, SS (North Carolina State)
In my previous mock I had the Panthers taking a kicker, but after some thought I realized that keeping Graham Gano is probably the route the Panthers will take in 2013. Also, I didn't really want to mock a kicker to Carolina, so I decided to change my pick to a safety. The Panthers do have a need for a safety, and I think the Panthers will be interested in taking a late round flier on Earl Wolff.
According to CBS Sports and NFL Draft Scout, Wolff is projected as a 6th round pick, and according to Walter Football he's projected as a 4th-6th round pick. I think he'll be there in the 6th round, and I think the Panthers will pounce on the opportunity to take him.
CBS Sports lists his strengths as follows:
Possesses lean, muscular frame with long arms. Displays good play recognition, and nice initial straight-ahead burst. Takes sound angles to the outside against the run, and really uses his length well to close space and make the tackle. Wraps up nicely, and routinely approaches his target low. Exhibits a fluid backpedal and flips the hips with good timing in transition.
Displays good awareness in zone coverage and does a good job of reading and reacting to the quarterback's eyes. Gets up to speed quickly when asked to plant and drive forward from a backpedal. Looks natural and instinctive when he's playing up in the box, and defending the run. Positions himself well for gap coverage as a run defender, and exhibits patience to allow the play to develop when closing from deep.
And, according to CBS Sports, his weaknesses:
Despite possessing a strong first step downhill, isn't nearly as explosive when reacting laterally. Is susceptible to cutbacks when up near the line of scrimmage, as he'll overrun his gap from time to time. Struggles to break down and redirect in space rapidly.
Could be more aggressive at shedding blockers as he tends to lock on and will allow himself to be directed out of the play. Is susceptible to separation across the field in man coverage, as he lacks suddenness to stop or cut abruptly. Lacks a 2nd gear to correct over the top, and does not cover enough ground to be a sideline-to-sideline, deep middle safety.
I'll admit that it's possible he could be gone by the time the Panthers pick in the 6th round, but if he is still on the board it won't surprise me one bit to hear his name called.
Well, that's it for the remix of Mocking B-Dub Style. Stay tuned for future episodes as we make our way to the NFL Draft in April. Like I said at the beginning, if you have any alternative choices, please feel free to mention them in the comment thread, because that's what this mock draft stuff is all about.
* Just kidding guys. Maybe...
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