2014 NFL mock draft: Could Taylor Lewan fall to Carolina?

Gregory Shamus

Two rounds, two huge needs filled.

On Apr. 21, 2013 we were waiting. The final days of hand-wringing leading up to the draft, knowing the Panthers would probably take a defensive tackle but having no clue who would be available at the 14th pick. Star Lotulelei seemed like a pipe dream, then it happened. So too the idea of landing a highly-graded offensive tackle at No.28 seems improbable this year, but as the draft draws closer it could be a reality.

SBNation.com released a new mock draft with just over two weeks until we hear the selections. The board breaks in a way that's very favorable for the Panthers and they capitalize, just like they did in 2013.

28. Carolina Panthers - Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Maybe it was his disappointing senior season, or maybe it's the list of off-the-field incidents he has been involved in, but it seems Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan has a chance to slide down draft boards a bit. The Panthers are a team desperate enough at offensive tackle to take a chance, though.

The off-field issues are a concern, but it's a case of talent vastly out-stripping those worries, especially at a critical position like left tackle.

Former NFL defensive end Stephen White took a deep look at Lewan for SBNation.com and he found instances where his aggressiveness didn't translate to results on the field.

At the end of the day, Taylor Lewan is a level below Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews, but he also isn't far behind them, still a likely first-rounder. He is a plug-and-play guy who will likely be ready to start from day one. I just don't think he will ever be an "elite" left tackle no matter how long he plays.

I can live without an elite talent if he's a solid starter, "solid" is what the Panthers need right now and is better than most of what they can hope for at No.28. Taking Lewan would be safe, reliable and fill a huge need -- factor in that he'd be the best player available at the spot and it seems like a home run.

The second round is where the Panthers found a true offensive weapon.

60. Carolina Panthers - Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana

If the Panthers don't leave the first two days of the draft with at least one wide receiver, they will have failed. Cody Latimer is the type of big, fast wide receiver that Cam Newton hasn't gotten a chance to work with yet in his career. It's long overdue.

Carolina has shown a lot of interest in Latimer and his weaknesses aren't so terrible that they can't be polished with a heaping help of Ricky Proehl. His size and athleticism alone make him worth a pick and the Panthers have met with him at least twice.

What do you think of this mock?

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