2013 NFL draft: Panthers draft morning rumblings

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

Things are very different this year.

Draft boards could be getting clearer, or far more hazy -- depending on what you're listening to this morning. Up to this point conventional wisdom dictated that the defensive tackle spot would a priority, but Carolina would take advantage of the depth, rather than taking one early. Recent draft rumblings skew that greatly.

The most interesting sub-plot to this year's draft is whether all (or some) of the Panthers' pre-draft rumors come true. In recent years under Marty Hurney there were only a couple each year, whereas in 2013 the process has been rife with information. Seeing what winds up being fact and fiction could dictate how Dave Gettleman plans to operate, and gives us a greater understanding of his draft sensibilities.

In 2011 it was clear Cam Newton was the target, last year it was between a few different players. For the 2013 draft the one name that keeps coming up in discussion is Star Lotulelei. Once seen as a draft long shot, Joe Person made it clear yesterday that the absence of a visit does not stop him being a potential target. I've heard similar things, and not only that but there were some rumors midday that the team could entertain trading up for Lotulelei -- if the price was right.

Anytime you hear 'trade' people take it as gospel, but really it should be with a grain of salt. Most of the teams in the league are having some conversations about moving up or down, and most of the time this resolves around a player: "If player X is there at pick Y, we're open to trading".

Assuming Star is off the board, and they don't make a trade, selecting a WR seems like a big possibility. I'm hearing that Tavon Austin is the least likely of the top receivers. There's a good chance he wont be available anyway, but it seems the Panthers aren't as smitten with the diminutive play-maker as other teams are.

So, who will the pick be? Truthfully, I have no clue. If you want something more concrete, then assuming Lotulelei is gone, and they can't find a trade partner, my best guess is the selection at #14 will come down to Kenny Vaccaro and DeAndre Hopkins. At defensive tackle it looks like it's Star or bust, and both Vaccaro and Hopkins would fill big gaps in the Panthers' roster.

Just a few more hours and we can separate the fact from fiction, and see how Dave Gettleman operates in contrast to Marty Hurney.

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