2014 NFL mock draft: Panthers double-down on size

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY

Two positions of need, two big players.

The Carolina Panthers followed a theme in 2013: Get big, fast. That approached helped revitalize the defensive line and forge the team's best season in five years. Picking Star Lotulelei was a no-brainer, Kawann Short took a little more risk and faith.

In a lot of ways this two round mock draft from Matthew Fairburn is a little similar. A touch of risk, but a lot of size -- this time we're seeing some different names.

28. Carolina Panthers - Kelvin Benjamin, Wide Receiver, Florida State

Plenty of wide receivers fall into the late first-round range; few have the upside of Kelvin Benjamin. Cam Newton needs a few more weapons to take the Panthers' offense to the next level. A big target like Benjamin who can dominate the defense at the catch point and track the deep ball would make Newton a happy man.

I've seen the statistics on Benjamin's drop rate and salient arguments why he's unreliable, but lets not forget that it wasn't so long ago that Julio Jones was knocked for having "hands of stone."

Ultimately he's just what this team needs for a thousand reasons. Soften up those hands with a little on the job training from Steve Smith, because you can't teach 6-foot-5, it's size that naturally creates separation -- especially when paired with Benjamin's athletic ability.

The second round pick is a relatively deep cut, but it's a fun one too.

60. Carolina Panthers - Pierre Desir, Cornerback, Lindenwood

After a strong week at the Senior Bowl, Lindenwood cornerback Pierre Desir has a real shot at the second round this May. He was rarely targeted on game day, but he made the most of his few targets, picking off a pass at the end of the game.

It's tempting to fall into the trap of "small school second round, no thanks" but there could be something here. Desir's stock is on the rise and isn't the deep cut he once was. He played so well during the lead up to the Shrine Bowl that he was invited to the Senior Bowl, where Desir thrived once again.

In the game he was barely targeted, when he was it resulted in an interception. For a small-school guy that measures in a 6-foot-1 he'll be someone to watch.

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