2014 NFL mock draft: The Panthers best pick is no pick at all


There have been a thousand mock drafts up to this point, but this is my favorite.

Holding the No. 28 pick is a lot like having that post-Christmas gift card that's burning a hole in your pocket. Logic tells you to wait, hold onto it and see if there's a sale or something better down the road but the desire for immediate gratification normally makes you blow it on something you're not in love with. Waiting is the hardest part, but it's the smartest too.

Ryan Van Bibber of SBNation.com released a new mockdraft rife with plausible trades that make sense for a lot of teams -- including the Panthers.

28. Houston Texans (Trade with Carolina): Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois

The Panthers are in a tough spot in this draft. Ron Rivera got his team over the hump just in time for the roster to be decimated by free agency, age and cap constraints. A lack of draft picks this year makes Dave Gettleman and Rivera's job that much harder. Luring a team at the top of the second round into this spot would be a smart move in a draft as deep as this one. With the first pick in the second round, Carolina is bound to find a tackle or a receiver (Morgan Moses or Kelvin Benjamin?) that it so desperately needs.

For Houston, waiting until pick No. 33 might be too late to land a decent option among the second tier of quarterbacks in the draft. Bill O'Brien's past with Tom Brady has become an easy talking point, but there is something to it. Garoppolo's quick release is his most intriguing quality that he shares with Brady.

This move is absolutely fantastic when you have a deep draft and a cadre of players you like on the board. Lets paint the picture here: Odell Beckham Jr. is gone, so are the top cornerbacks and offensive tackles. The choice is between a few talented players the Panthers have worked out, or moving the pick in a highly-possible move that lands Houston a quarterback.

Initially one bristles at the idea of passing on Brandin Cooks, but dig a little deeper and it makes perfect sense. San Francisco traded up to land Beckham Jr, so their need at receiver is set. All that stands between the Panthers and landing a top player is teams who are already largely set at the position.

New England takes Cooks at No. 29, a small disappointment but no big deal. Then Joel Bitonio is selected at No. 32, again he's someone the Panthers are interested in but it's a small loss. This is where it's important to understand what Dave Gettleman said at his pre-draft press conference, namely there are 10 offensive tackles and wide receivers worthy of a first round selection, this is of vital importance.

If the draft plays out the way Van Bibber predicts then Carolina can still have their choice between Morgan Moses, Cody Latimer or Kelvin Benjamin at the No. 33 spot -- they simply get better value. It mitigates the idea of selecting one in the first round as a "reach," while allowing the shelves to be stocked down the road. One presumes a trade would net the Panthers at least an additional third round selection and a future pick. That could then be used to solidify another position of need or roll the dice on upside without much consequence.

Would it make Thursday a boring evening for Panthers fans? Yep, but sometimes the best pick is no pick at all. Just like keeping that gift card for a rainy day.

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