To Catch a Falling Star: Safety Edition

Kevin C. Cox

This the fourth installment in a series where I try to predict a potential falling star that lands in the Panthers lap much like Star Lotulelei did in 2013. I've already looked at offensive tackles, wide receivers and cornerbacks. This week we look at the safeties. First though let's recap the first three posts.

In the first installment we looked at offensive tackles and I think the results are now skewed as this post was pre-combine. As you know OT Cyrus Kouandjio failed his physical and so we have no idea how that may or may not impact his draft position with the Panthers. Hence I think I Taylor Lewan would be the prime falling star at that position.

The WR edition presented the most options to slide to the Panthers with Marquis Lee being the odds on favorite of those listed outside of Mike Evans. But I seriously doubt Evans last past #12 much less #28.

In the CB evaluation we determined the favorite 'falling star' is Jason Verrett, a very athletic (though kind of short) slot CB who would be an upgrade to Captain Munnerlyn. I'm tempted to replace him with Kyle Fuller but I think there is a good chance Fuller is already in play at #28 without falling at all.

The options at safety are very limited in 2014 with only two players having solid first round grades. I'm tempted to throw a 3rd option in there but in the end I think it would skew the objective of the series. Speaking of which I should probably clarify what I'm trying to do as I think I created confusion in the CB edition with the wording in my poll.

Series Objective: My thought is to identify one player from each of the prime positions of need for the Panthers that would constitute the best 'falling star' to be available at #28, within reason. Meaning we know guys like OT Jake Matthews, WR Sammy Watkins and CB Justin Gilbert will be long gone before #28 so I don't want to skew my results into the realm of not possible. I instead want to identify guys with mid-first round pick status who could unexpectedly slide to #28. The positions of need are OT, WR CB, S, OLB and TE. I still have posts coming on OLB and TE. I will then do one final post and poll to see which of the 'falling stars' is the most preferred by Panther fans.

So back to the safeties:

Ha-Ha Clinton Dix 6'1" 208 Lbs (Alabama) - The clear #1 safety that some evaluators think is a top 10 pick:

Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix 2014 NFL Draft scouting report - SBNation.com
Final word Clinton-Dix is a balanced player with the room to grow into a special safety in the NFL. Teams are looking for big safeties who can run and hit like Clinton-Dix can. No other safety in this class demonstrates as much balance at the position and few are as athletically gifted. Clinton-Dix is one of the top 10 players in this class and could be drafted as such in May.

Calvin Pryor 5'11" 207 lbs (Louisville) - Mike Mayock has actually moved Prior above Clinton-Dix in his position rankings though most still see him as the #2 safety on the board.

Calvin Pryor Draft Profile – NFL.com
BOTTOM LINE A big, physical, hammering run defender brings an enforcer mentality to the box and an intimidating, punishing presence to the back end. Is arguably the most violent hitter in this year's draft class and should make his presence felt readily in the pros.

These are the only two I think could be considered falling stars at #28. Jimmy Ward from N. Illinois is a good option for the Panthers as is Dion Bailey but both are probably 2nd round picks.

So I'm going to change the wording of poll since there are only two options. Hopefully it will make sense this time.

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