My goal is to take another swing at who I think the Panthers will pick. The draft of who I want the Panthers to pick is below as well. If you feel so inclined, give me your personal Panthers drafts as well.
1.14 Keenan Allen, WR California (6-2, 206, 4.49?)
If he's the pick, I have to give James the credit for calling it before the fall even ended. It makes too much since. Let's recap: We haven't drafted a WR early yet for our franchise QB. Our #1 WR is in his mid-30s. Our #2 WR isn't a vertical threat in this offense, and is a pending free agent. Gettleman comes from an organization that highly values receivers. Allen has already spent much time training directly with our WR coach. Allen is also a North Carolina guy who went to Rivera's alma-mater.
BUT, the big question is Allen's left knee. A PCL injury is not usually considered to be especially serious, but the length of time he has needed to recover is alarming. With his season shortened this year, you will be rather underwhelmed by his 2012 tape. However if you take a look at his 2011 stuff, you will see what all the fuss is about. Notice the numbeer of poor throws made by his QB, and the number of times Allen makes an athletic catch to bail out his errant QB. My backup pick is either Shariff Floyd or Sheldon Richardson, due to our dire need at UT and our prospect visits thus far.
2.44 Phillip Thomas, S Fresno State (6-1, 208, 4.53)
Sherrod Martin is a free-agent recovering from a torn ACL. There is no need to get overly excited about the Mike Mitchell signing (JAG). Our second starting saftey spot is between Mitchell, DJ Campbell, and Haruki Nakamura. Even the thought of Haruki having a chance to start makes me want to vomit. The Giants also valued taking defensive backs early, and we know Rivera prefers DBs with some size. You may see Thomas as a reach, but I think he is under-rated right now (and Elam is off the board in my mock). Thomas is a vicious attacker in the run game, and physical enough to attack large RBs head on. He is described as being tough, fluid, and instinctive; three of the best traits a defender can have. He also brings a missing element to our defense: turnovers. The ball-hawk lead the NCAA with 8 picks as a safety(3 taken back to the house). Getting the ball back more often could be huge for both our offense and defense. Add in 5 forced fumbles and 12 TFLs, and you have a guy who adds plenty of splash to our average group of corners. We also could use someone back there who can erase mistakes when our slower CBs get torched. My back-up pick here is Sylvester Williams, if we did not take a DT in the first (hat-tip to Crawford for showing us his virtues)
4.108 David Quessenberry, OT/G/C San Jose State (6-5, 302, 5.08)
A good draft is a mix of BPA, current need, and future need. I believe that next year is Jordan Gross's last year as a Panther, leaving a potential chasm. If here, Quessenberry could fill a huge future need at LT and be BPA at the same time. He may also immediately challenge Bell for the RT job, or maybe even whoever we start at RG. He is an athletic guy, and like Lane Johnson, was a former tight-end. He has started 38 games at LT. He is very versatile as he started out on special teams, and has also worked at being a back-up guard and center. Quessenberry went from being a walk-on as a freshman to becoming a team captain as a senior. This shows his work ethic and leadership skills. It is anticipated that his QB, David Fales, is going to be a highly ranked NFL QB prospect next year. Like many other high QB prospects, having a great offensive lineman like Quessenberry helped him to shine. He had a great week at the Senior Bowl, showing that he can handle higher level power and speed rushers. (Hat tip to Rick Bates if we take him.) Chris Faulk is my back-up pick here, but I give Quessenberry the edge because of Faulk's ACL injury and lack of starting experience. I would lean Faulk if we prefer to focus on our downhill running game, Quessenberry if we focus more on what we currently run.
5.148 Jelani Jenkins, OLB Florida (6-1, 243, 4.54)
He is a better prospect than this position, but he missed most of the season due to thumb, hamstring, and foot injuries. But the playmaking ability is there, including the sideline to sideline speed the Panthers love. Rivera is a LB guy running a LB oriented JJ 4-3. With Phillips and Anderson gone, and shaky health history of Beason and Davis, suddenly we are very shallow at a key position. Ideally we could catch the sliding Jenkins here, allow him to learn the system for a year as a back-up as his body finishes healing up. With several other LB prospects ranked ahead of him, there's a chance we could get him here. (Hat-tip to Jaxson, as I did not realize we had already have had a private workout with him)
My back-up pick here if we have a DT already would be a fiesty CB like Terry Hawthorne or Brandon McGee. (Hat tip to Derek on those guys)
6.182 Chris Jones, DT Bowling Green (6-2, 302, 5.33)
I don't think we can leave this draft without at least one DT. Here is a guy that is somewhat under the radar right now, but he is well known in the MAC since he was their Defensive Player of the Year. Kuechly, Alexander, and Norman show that Rivera values college production from his defenders. Jones produced to the tune of 42 tackles,12.5 sacks, 19 TFLs, and 2 forced fumbles. He helped Bowling Green lead the MAC in all major defensive categories, and helped their defense rank top 15 nationally in scoring allowed, passing defense, and rushing defense. They had him line up some as a 5 technique as well, showing some versatility Ron would love. He's been training down at IMG, so the Panthers may have heard about this guy due to our connections there. 6th rounders tend to be busts anyway, so now is a good time to take a chance on a small school guy if you feel good about him. Jones has a natural mix of power, speed, and swim moves that just made it tough for college guards to block him. So much so you should watch him here:
My back-up pick here is Michael Williams, TE since we lost Barndige and may want to run more 2 TE sets again this year.
Those are the guys I would guess for Gettlevera. For the record, right now if I were the GM my picks are:
1. Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama - add to offensive identity via running game and pass protection
2. Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor- add to offensive identity via a vertical weapon
4. Montori Hughes, NT, Tennessee-Martin - stout against the run and controlling gaps
5. Earl Wolfe, S, NC State- play-maker that adds needed talent and splash to the secondary
6. Caleb Sturgis, K Florida - I'm tired of cringing everytime we line up to kick. Plus misses either cost us momentum, or leaves points on the board in close games