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2018 NFL Draft: Carolina Panthers 7-round mock draft 1.0

Here’s my first of several 2018 mock drafts.

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl - Penn State v Washington Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

We have reached the home stretch of this year’s pre-draft cycle. While they didn’t make any splashes, the Panthers were active during free agency to address their needs.

As my colleague CanadianPanther notes, there are still needs on the roster. The Panthers find themselves with eight picks in the 2018 NFL Draft. Marty Hurney can go in a number of different directions to supplement this roster with young talent. I will produce a seven round mock every week up until the NFL Draft, but first some ground rules.

  • I will be referencing the consensus big board compiled by @gth29c. FanSpeak is a great resource, but it’s a bit unrealistic. The consensus big board compiles seven sources of material to create one ranking.
  • I will not select anyone ranked higher than where the Panthers are selecting, but I will overdraft. For example, the Panthers select at 24 in the first round. I could choose to select a player ranked 25 or lower, but I won’t choose a prospect ranked higher.
  • I will be selecting players the Panthers have shown a keen interest in throughout the process. The players who have visited Charlotte for a pre-draft visit, had a private workout on their college campus, or had a Panthers coach attend their pro day will carry more weight.
  • I will not be projecting trades for the first mock, but I may decide to change that for the future ones.

Round 1, pick 24 — James Daniels, OL, Iowa

After Billy Price’s unfortunate injury, James Daniels is my favorite center/guard prospect in this class. Ragnow is a solid option too, but Daniels is more fundamentally sound. He isn’t scheme dependent either. He moves well laterally that he can execute outside zone assignments. He’s a mauler in the run game, which correlates well to power and gap concepts.

My favorite part of Daniels is how well he uses his leverage to defeat hand movement.

Daniels (#78 center) looks like he’s beaten off the snap, but he recovers by extending his arms to prevent the defensive tackle to gain any momentum.

The Panthers didn’t make any large investments to replace Andrew Norwell. Daniels can immediately start at left guard. His future is at center and with 2018 being the final year Ryan Kalil is under contract, Daniels could move to his natural center position in 2019. Drafting Daniels would go a long way in giving Cam Newton clean pockets.

Round 2, pick 55 — Jessie Bates, S, Wake Forest

The Panthers have been showing a healthy amount of interest in Bates. They have already had him in for a pre draft visit, which would not count against the top 30 visits since Bates went to college in North Carolina.

The Panthers can not start an NFL season with Mike Adams and De’Norris Searcy as their starting safeties. They need to get younger and faster. Bates’ best role is at free safety playing single high or splitting half the field. He has ball skills, but he also allows his share of receivers to get behind him.

Bates makes an incredible play on the ball as the deep safety, but the receiver had deep leverage on him. Bates is a prospect that I’d be comfortable taking a chance on simply because it’s difficult to find natural free safeties after the second round. He has ball skills, athleticism, and diagnoses route concepts well.

Round 3, pick 85 — DaSean Hamilton, WR, Penn State

Wide Receiver coach Lance Taylor traveled to Hamilton’s pro day in Happy Valley. The combination of athleticism, route running, and ability in contested situations is why Hamilton is an appealing prospect. The Panthers have needed this type of player since Steve Smith was released in 2014.

Round 3, pick 88 — Chad Thomas, DE, Miami (FL)

Defensive Line coach Brady Hoke was at Thomas’ pro day in Miami. This is on top of Thomas taking a pre draft visit to Charlotte. I broke down Thomas’ game a couple weeks ago. He reminds me a lot of Charles Johnson. Carolina can’t continue to rely on 30+ year old edge rushers. They have to get younger.

Round 5, pick 152 — Dalton Schultz, TE, Stanford

Dalton Schultz met with the Panthers at the combine. After watching Schultz’s film, he is an ideal second tight end. The Panthers elected to allow Ed Dickson to walk in free agency, which currently makes Chris Manhertz the starting TE2. Schultz is a decent route runner, but he makes his mark as a blocker.

Round 6, pick 183 — Parry Nickerson, CB, Tulane

At this point in the draft, teams are searching for core special team contributors and players with upside. Nickerson is exactly that. Despite not possessing ideal size, Nickerson is a tough player and never shies away from a challenge. Ross Cockrell and James Bradberry is a passable cornerback pairing, but Nickerson could be a diamond in the rough.

Round 7, pick 208 — Logan Woodside, QB, Toledo

Quarterbacks coach Scott Turner was at Woodside’s pro day a few weeks ago. The Panthers have mentioned that they are searching for a young QB prospect to become the next Derek Anderson. Woodside has an intriguing skill set. He has good mechanics, solid athleticism, and produced well against G5 opponents.

Round 7, pick 216 — Chase Edmonds, RB, Fordham

Full disclosure: I have been an Edmonds fan since January. I will be stunned if he makes it this far, but based on how the board fell this pick made too much sense. The Panthers don’t have to replace Jonathan Stewart with a back with similar qualities. Ron Rivera mentioned at the combine that their next back could have a similar skill set to Christian McCaffrey.

Yes Edmonds played at a small school, but his 3 cone was elite. Furthermore, he brings a unique ability to pass protect, catch the ball, and run through contact. Sign me up.

What do you think of this mock, Panthers fans? Share your thoughts with us!