The newest mock draft from SBNation.com is out and the two round collaboration sees the Panthers addressing core needs with two players, both of whom are on the smaller side.
Up to this point it's been popular to give Carolina a wide receiver or offensive tackle in the first round, but for this mock the Panthers get one of each.
28. Carolina Panthers - Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Drafting for need in the first round is often a bad move. For the Carolina Panthers, it's practically become a necessity. Fortunately for Carolina, the receiver position is loaded in the draft this year. Cooks may not be the biggest wideout, but he's a playmaker with good hands. He can stretch the field vertically but is just as good working crosses, slants and other short routes.
Cooks would definitely make the Panthers better, even some of his more staunch critics see that. The problem is whether he can be a player who can slot in to every offense or just those that can find ways to make him a feature. Comparing him to Steve Smith is far too prevalent and being tossed around way too liberally. He's not Smitty, not close -- but he's good in different ways.
Personally, I think a lot more highly of Zack Martin that this mock did (No.35). Especially given the Panthers gamble in the second round on a tackle. It's a hard pill to swallow not taking Martin in the first. Yes, basically both guys are reported to be guards in tackles clothing, but I see a lot of the same traits in Martin that Jordan Gross had.
60. Carolina Panthers - Joel Bitonio, OT/G, Nevada
If the Panthers can come out of the first two rounds of the draft with a starting wide receiver and offensive tackle, it should be considered a good draft. While some think Bitonio is more of a guard in the NFL, he's just good enough to stick on the outside.
Some people love him, I don't. There's appeal there for an athletic offensive tackle who could, potentially, maybe, with some luck, become a left tackle. Personally, I see a minus level Riley Reiff who projected to be a guard in the NFL, but has been shoehorned into playing tackle for the Lions where he's struggling.
There's a place for these tweener types, but not in the first two rounds and especially when your need at tackle is vast and you have future options at offensive guard.
Personally, with Troy Niklas still on the board it seems that getting a really great blocking tight end who can help the struggling tackles and catch passes would be more Dave Gettleman's speed than taking a risk on a guy who might be out of position.