Having the draft in May is super fun, isn't it? You get almost a full extra month of rumors hand-wringing and mock drafts to pass the time. Yeah, I hate it too. We can either keep complaining about it or just enjoy the ride. Personally, I might just do both.
Instead of mocking the full first round I'm concentrating on just Carolina's picks. Normally I'm not a fan of these kind of mocks without proper framing, because it allows the mocker to game the system. For this mock I used Fanspeak's ever popular model, which seems to have been updated and some of the kinks ironed out. There are less crazy scenarios now, which is a good thing if you're trying to project what will happen.
If you want to see how the full draft went down you can find it here -- but lets get to the picks, shall we?
First round, 28th overall: Marqise Lee, WR, USC
I know the idea of "smokescreen" is popular this time of year, but since Ron Rivera arrived in Carolina there's been very little -- well, none to be precise.
Working out the draft has been simple. Pay attention to the guys they're looking at the most, if it falls in line with BPA, do it. This is the case with Lee who has met with the Panthers on several occasions. There's a chance he could go earlier, sure, but the draft is a funny and fluid thing.
Selecting Lee is a slight gamble that a team thinks he can return to his 2012 form, but there's obviously a lot the Panthers like when they send Ricky Proehl to evaluate the receiver.
Second round, 60th overall: Ja'Wuan James, OT, Tennessee
This is a player we haven't discussed much but at 60 it's a great situation. It's important to understand what James is, rather that trying to make him something he isn't. I don't believe he will ever be a left tackle in the NFL despite his quick feet, but that's not a bad thing on a team in dire need of both.
Ja'Wuan James does everything well, nothing at an elite level. Which is to say he's reliable, that's important.
Third round, 92nd overall: Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
There's a chance he could go a lot earlier, or a chance he'll fall. It's impossible to know, that said if Latimer is available at No.92 the Panthers are SPRINTING to turn in the card. No smoke here, they like him -- heck, he could be the second or even first round pick depending on how the board breaks.
Fourth round, 128th overall: Pierre Desir, CB, Lindwood
This is the point where you start taking guys to fill out your roster and roll the dice on upside. Desir doesn't have any high level college experience, but has been almost perfect during the pre-draft process. He's big, strong and might have more potential than any CB in this draft -- or he could be a complete bust.
Carolina rolls the dice and hopes they can develop him.
Fifth round, 168th overall: DeVonta Freeman, RB, Florida State
There are scores of reasons why Freeman wont go in the first three rounds. He's largely untested thanks to being part of a committee, he doesn't have elite speed or great strength. That said, there are a lot of similarities to DeAngelo Williams in his game.
Freeman has great vision, knows how to hit gaps and is very elusive in the open field. In Carolina he wouldn't be asked to carry the ball 20-30 times per game, but he would be a nice rotational piece -- especially when you have two running backs with a propensity for missing games. Some think Kenjon Barner is the answer, but as a pure running back Freeman is better.
Sixth round, 204th overall: Seantrel Henderson, OT, Miami
Size like this shouldn't happen in the NFL. Henderson towers in at 6'7 and is well over 300 pounds. He's dealt with injuries through his college career and has some off-field problems, but it's the same kind of raw potential you want out of the back end in a class.
The Panthers let themselves down by not adding depth on the lines at the end of the draft. That needs to change now. While Henderson might never be a starter, he'll be a rotational piece -- that's nice to have.
Seventh round, 225th overall: Isiah Lewis, SS, Michigan State
Lewis doesn't have ideal size, but he's a smart run-stopping strong safety with upside. Nothing that bowls you over, but he adds something on special teams too -- a nice benefit for a team needing more help in that area.