The draft process is an imprecise science made frenzy by sleuthing, and intuition. Outside of a scant few at the top of the organization nobody really knows who the team is hoping to select next Thursday. In fact, it's unclear whether the team even really knows. If you follow Dave Gettleman's timeline, they're still finalizing the board, and putting the finishing touches to their draft plan. This alone should kill any notion of pre-planning to the point of 'smokescreen', but based on the workout information and Gettleman's words yesterday, we can put together a picture of what they're looking for.
If you're trying to piece together the draft jigsaw puzzle, then the pre-draft visits are your corners -- the starting point. It's not just the Carolina Panthers who select players they've invited in, it's all teams. With the visiting process over it's safe to say that anyone who wasn't met with will not be the selection at #14, barring some completely unpredictable collapse at the top of the draft. Remember though, while fans might sit on Thursday night wondering "how the heck did ____ fall?!" they're simply playing catch up to teams.
Dave Gettleman wants NFL ready talent, and expects two starters in the first two rounds.
Cross reference his belief in drafting this year, with the list of predraft visitations and you get a better idea of where they're going. I can's tell you who they'll take unequivocally, but I think there are some likely scenarios at #14.
1. The wide receiver route
This includes either Keenan Allen, DeAndre Hopkins, or Tavon Austin with the 14th overall pick, and from there hoping one of the safeties or defensive tackles is available at #44. These second round options likely include Jonathan Cyprien, Kawann Short, Matt Elam, or Sylvester Williams.
2. The defensive back route
In this scenario the Panthers select either Kenny Vaccaro or Jonathan Cyprien with the 14th overall pick. At #44 they'll look to receivers Quinton Patton, Markus Wheaton, or Stedman Bailey, while at the DT spot they'll hope Kawann Short or Sylvester Williams is available.
3. The defensive tackle route
Less likely than the first two, this involves Sharrif Floyd being available at 14 (which is a long shot). From that point they can look for either of the above safeties, or wide receivers.
4. The unexpected route
Also called the 'too good to be true', this involves one of the top-rated offensive tackles to be available at the 14th pick. If that happens fans should be excited, because it gives a lot of options at the 44th pick and makes for an exciting draft weekend.
Don't hold your breath
When you see one or two prospects at a single position visiting it's more likely a case of due diligence, rather than widespread interest. We saw this last year with Fletcher Cox and Quinton Coples, and it's fairly safe to assume the same thing again.
Defensive end seems unlikely at #14. The two players who could be available are Ezekiel Ansah or Barkervious Mingo, but neither would be starters in Carolina -- and that makes the prospect of either being selected difficult.
The same can be said in the second round about offensive guard Larry Warford. One of the latest visits, it's prompted many fans to assume he's the true target -- but as Dave Gettleman said yesterday, the team kept their final spots open for last-second medical checks. It could simply be the case of them checking on a red flag prior to draft day.
There is zero evidence the Panthers are interested in Chance Warmack, or the top-rated cornerbacks in the draft. Nobody has been in for an interview at CB, including potential second round prospects. All signs point to the Panthers rolling with their current group, and trying to coach up the young players.