Let us recap what’s happened in the 2 weeks since my 5 Weeks To Go Mock:
Since then, Carolina has signed WR Domenik Hixon, WR/KR Ted Ginn Jr., re-signed CB Captain Munnerlyn, re-signed DT Dwan Edwards, and signed ILB Chase Blackburn. Tedd Ginn immediately becomes our kick and punt returner. Hixon immediately becomes our #3 WR. So this pretty much locks in 4 of our 6 WR spots. Assuming the pieces fall as we expect and we DO draft a WR this year, that locks up 5 spots and leaves Pilares and Adams and (on a very much lesser note) Gettis to compete for the final roster spot. Munnerlyn will come in and compete with everyone for one of the starting 3 CB spots. I honestly think it’s going to be an open competition in camp this year. At the moment my guess is: LCB: 1) J.Thomas, 2) J.Dockery / RCB: 1) DJ Moore, 2) J.Norman / NCB: 1) C.Munnerlyn, 2)D.Florence. Florence will most likely be the one deactivated on game day (if he even makes the roster – which I think he WILL do unless we draft a CB, like Sanders Commings). Obviously Dwan returns as our starting UT. And Blackburn simply replaces Jason Philips as our backup ILB, providing much needed experience and depth to our Linebacker core, solidifying a solid group of guys (with J.Williams and J.Senn rounding out the 6 guys). I think with Onatolu it will simply become a numbers game to decide if he slips onto the 53.
In addition to these signings we have shown interest through meetings and private workouts with a bevy of round 1 and 2 DT’s and WR’s. I don’t think us adding Hixon changes this at all. James also posted an article a while ago making it clear that it “appears” some kind of WR/DT combo is in line for our 1 and 2. As my previous mocks have been hinting, you can easily see that this has been my thinking too.
Alright, now on to the picks:
This pick all comes down to just how well Allen does at his pro day on April 9th. Originally I stayed with my thinking from 3 weeks ago and had Tavon Austin here, but I just chose to go with my gut. Plus I’m starting to think the Rams are going to trade up (for pick 12 or 13) to try to make sure they get the WR they want this year, that being Tavon Austin. Last year they screwed the pooch in waiting and hoping Blackmon would fall to them and if Austin is the guy they’re targeting then parting with a 3rd to move up just a few spots makes sense. Hell, they probably know as much about whom the Panthers are targeting as we do and wouldn’t want to risk it.
So with Austin off the board, then what? We all know Proehl is getting to know Allen on a very personal level. He’s watching him practice and recuperate. If KA shows up at his Pro-day and looks healthy and flashes, I could very easily see him being a BPA at #14. With the injury and practically zero ways to boost his draft stock yet (besides interview), he’s still considered a near lock for the 20-32 range. A good pro day only boosts him to our spot (so he’s not considered so much of a “reach” by rabid fans).
With Allen we get our obvious future #1 WR. Allen is a big bodied red zone threat. With Cam’s tendency to throw high, a tall athletic receiver with a huge catch radius and fantastic hands would be insanely beneficial. Maybe we could see Cam throw some fade routes that actually work in the red zone now. With Allen, Lafell, and Hixon all standing at 6’2 and around 200 pounds we’d have a trio of physical wideouts who could really go and get a ball in traffic and in the redzone. Add Olsen’s hulking 6’5 260 pound frame in there and how Smitty plays just as big and we could be looking at the best receiving core the Panthers have ever had.
I would think Allen would come into camp having to compete for our #3 WR spot with Hixon. As we’ve seen before with him, Rivera likes players to earn their spot (ala Lafell VS Legedoodoo). And with his immense upside and talent I wouldn’t doubt Allen wins it outright. And hey, by the end of the season he could even have cemented himself as our #2. Behind him Hixon would become #4 and Ginn #5. I think it’s a lock we’ll have 6 WR’s on the final roster and I really don’t know who will win it between Pilares, Adams, or Gettis. My gut believes Pilares is the best all-around WR out of the 3, but thinks it’ll be Adams we keep (cheap depth for next 3 seasons, lots of talent, and just too early to give up on). But I really don’t know.
I’m going to borrow my blurb from 2 weeks ago for here. Imagine a defensive line with 3 powerful pass rushers (Johnson, Hardy, and Dwan) and a strong, brutish NT taking up two blockers himself, leaving one-on-one matchups for the others. Yeah I like that sound of that myself. Hankins I could see slipping through to the second round. Many mocks have him falling that far now. Some, like our very own Mr. Dator, have been tooting Jesse Williams’s horn for a while, but I’m not sure if he’d be viewed as BPA here if Hankins is available too. I started to put Kawann Short here, but I’m thinking he might get snatched up before our 2nd pick. Anyway, that aside, right now we have Colin Cole and Sione Fua as our competition for starting NT. That’s pititful. Taking Hankins here is an easy BPA meets NEED fit. And similar to Silatolu last year, he has no real competition for the spot, and so gives us a day 1 starter and a run-stopping plug.
What’s better than 1 plug? How about 2. Logan is a prospect who, from looking at a majority of rankings and mocks, seems right at home in the 4th. He has a quick burst and while not precisely a pass rush specialist, he joins previous pick Jonathan Hankins, to drastically improve our interior run defending talent. Logan can back up both DT spots and would be a fantastic rotation player this season. He could also use his time to learn some pass rushing tips from Dwan in order to potentially replace him next season. The kid sounds like he has a great work-ethic and would be a much needed upgrade over Kearse, Fua, and Cole. Heck, Fua will be entering his final year in 2014 and I see no way we’ll bring him back regardless of us drafting two DT’s in this draft or not. Our talent at DT is just that bad.
via ww4.hdnux.com5.) Duke Williams - SS
Aye Karumba! I dislike that Duke seems to be moving up people’s rankings. I love him as a prospect and loved him even more in the 6th round, but it seems he’s moving more into the 5th/6th range now. I started to put Sanders Commings here or Tharold Simon, but I like our CB depth right now and so for this mock I had to keep ole Dukey around. Anyway, here we could get a guy who shined during offseason workouts with the kind of developmental talent Rivera likes. And despite us bringing Mike Mitchell to compete for our starting SS spot, we’ll still need a capable backup and potential 2014 replacement. Williams is a talented developmental safety who also would be able to give Mitchell and Campbell a run for the starting spot. Assuming one of the more experienced guys wins it, however, Williams’s primary rolls this season would probably be to pick the brains of Godfrey, Nakamura, and Mitchell for tips and hints and to just get into NFL-ready shape. In 2014, though, we could see him once more competing for the starting spot with Campbell, as Nakamura and Mitchell enter free agency.
And in the 6th let’s add a guard prospect. Never heard of him? Here’s a quote on him from Pat Kirwan of CBSSports.com: “Garrett Gilkey is an offensive guard from Chadron State and he is one physical player that loves to battle in the trenches. Any team interested in a power guard that can move a defensive tackle will be interested in Gilkey. How this guy didn't play for a team like Nebraska or Wisconsin coming out of Chicago is a mystery to me.” And here’s one from Rob Rang of NFLDRAFTSCOUT.com during Senior Bowl practices: “It is the nature of the position for offensive linemen to be a bit anonymous, but this is even more the case with small-school prospects. Chadron State's Garrett Gilkey, however, is quickly forcing scouts to pay attention. The 6-6, 314-pound Gilkey was twice recognized as an All-Rocky Mountain West Conference pick while at tackle, but his work this week has been inside at guard. Despite playing a new position, Gilkey was impressive, showing strength, toughness and flexibility handling the massive Jenkins and quicker defenders like Florida State's Everett Dawkins. He was beaten on a spin move by Jenkins early on but rebounded to enjoy an impressive practice overall. Considering the jump he's being asked to make from the Division II level, that's quite a statement.” Sounds like a guy with good potential. Exactly what you look for in the late rounds.
Next season Hangartner’s cap hit ballons to around 2.5 million with no guaranteed money, meaning he could very well be a candidate for salary cap casualty. And with Bell and Byers becoming RFA’s next offseason and B.Campbell and G.Williams becoming FA’s, Gilkey could very well come into next offseason as our only O-Line depth. And hey, if Gilkey shines in practice or pre-season he could even wind up as our starting RG this season, saving us from having to spend one of our top 3 picks on one next year. (Right now it seems fairly obvious we’d be using at least one on an O-lineman.)
And that’s all for this week folks. Please feel free to provide comments and to grade this week’s mock. Thanks!