NFL mock draft 2014: Todd McShay offers two familiar names for Panthers

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay believes a WR or OT will be on the cards, but a divisional foe plays spoiler.

The Carolina Panthers have a tendency to surprise on draft day. This organization is perfectly happy to take the path less traveled but one predictable name keeps coming up in mock drafts -- Kelvin Benjamin.

Therefore, we shouldn't be too surprised that Todd McShay of ESPN has the Panthers taking (insider) the talented wide receiver who needs a little work at the next level.

Analysis: The Panthers need to solidify their offensive line, especially at the left tackle spot with Jordan Gross' retirement, so I think if Moses drops here he'd be the pick. But there isn't a great value at this point, and they need receiver help as well. We have a second-round grade on Benjamin, but he's tempting because of his size and catch radius. He wouldn't have to run too many routes early on to have an impact, as you could create plenty of mismatches for him. He'd be a great red-zone weapon for Cam Newton.

Essentially McShay is saying the Panthers reach either way. Morgan Moses of Virginia is selected one pick earlier by the New Orleans Saints and could be a prime target for a team in dire need of an offensive tackle. Some will decry either selection as "not BPA," but here's the funny thing -- "best player available" doesn't really exist.

We've had this discussion on CSR before, but "best player" is an off-handed statement that general managers use which has been twisted and subverted by fans to take on a life of its own. It assumes there's a single master list of players everyone is using for analysis and that a team should never take into account position or needs.

Talking about "BPA" is fun, watching it in action is how the Jaguars select a third round punter, for example. At their time of selection neither Cam Newton nor Luke Kuechly were the "BPA" on draft day, based on analyst projections.

So much time is spent (and wasted) looking over the minutia between two players at different positions that it ignores the fact that players are separated into tiers, rather than saying "Player A is an 88 out of 100 and Player B is a 76."

This is something former Bears general manager Jerry Angelo outlined for the National Football Post.

A typical grade on a player would have a two-digit number. That number reflects how the team projects the prospect will play when he gets into the league.

8.0 grade: Special player, will impact a game and dominate at his position
7.0 grade: A potential pro bowler, a player you win because of
6.5 grade: A solid rank and file starter you could win with
6.0 grade: A solid backup who could start, but limited
5.5 grade: A role player but not a starter. A specialist
5.0 grade: A talented player, but not draftable. Developmental

From there letter grades are assigned for character, durability and football IQ. A plus sign next to a grade indicates scheme fit. That's it. Technically there is a "9.0," but it is almost never (read, once every 20 years) used. Reports indicated that Andrew Luck received a 9.0 from some teams, but not the majority.

If you look at the 2013 class it's appropriate to use the term "best player" with Star Lotulelei. Almost assuredly he was one of the few players left with an 8.0 grade. Kawann Short may have been Gettleman's favorite, but there were probably a lot of other 6.5 graded players left on the board.

See how "BPA" is a fallacy? When you separate players into tiers you could have 5-10 guys with the same grade on talent, then need to decide based on need whether it's worth risking ignoring character issues etc.

Selecting at the back end of the first round means there might be one or two guys you have a 7.0 grade on, but bad medical ratings or 6.5 players who are clean. Those preaching "BPA" would have you select the more talented one, meet Jeff Otah 2.0.

That's where Carolina went wrong in 2008. They took the "BPA" in Otah, but fell in love with the talent so much they ignored the durability and character grades.

Essentially we have a situation where there will be a slew of 6.5 graded guys in the late first or early second, it's how the draft works. I'd wager that both Benjamin and Moses will wind up with a 6.5 grade -- from there it's all about working out the minutia. A team that completely ignores need is a foolish one, just as a team that always fills their holes is equally flawed.

Don't sleep on Moses or Benjamin coming this May, either one could very well wind up a Panther.

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