As you probably already know, the 2019 NFL Draft begins Thursday, April 25 at 8 p.m. ET. The Carolina Panthers, if they decide to stay put at pick No. 16, will be on the clock around 9:30-10:00 p.m. ET, where a franchise-shifting pick could be made.
I took a stab at predicting each of the Panthers draft picks using The Draft Network’s Mock Draft Simulator based on a combination of need, best player available, and Marty Hurney’s past tendencies.
Round 1, Pick No. 16: Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State
Who else was available: Greedy Williams, DK Metcalf, Jonah Williams, Devin Bush, Cody Ford
Montez Sweat is a freak of nature. The only thing keeping him out of the top ten at the moment is a heart condition that was discovered recently. According to Tom Pelissero, there has never been a known active NFL player to deal with the condition Sweat is reported to have. Some teams have completely removed him from their boards, while others are open to drafting Sweat and taking yearly precautions.
Let’s take it back to 2013, when a player by the name of Star Lotulelei had been hailed a top five prospect out of the University of Utah. That was, until a surprise heart condition had been revealed shortly before the draft. The condition scared enough teams off, and Lotulelei fell to the Panthers at No. 14. Star was an above average player for most of his time in Carolina, and his heart condition has never really been considered since. Anything sound similar?
This pick provides the Panthers with extreme athleticism off the edge to hopefully mold into a productive pass rusher down the road. Sweat isn’t very polished, and gives off some D.K. Metcalf vibes in regards to how he may be more of a combine crusher than a great football player. It’s a risky pick, but if the board falls this way and the Panthers are comfortable with his heart condition, there is some real potential value here.
Sweat was confirmed to have taken a private visit with the Panthers.
More on Sweat’s heart condition, and how it’s being viewed around the league, below:
Montez Sweat’s heart condition has been discussed extensively by NFL teams and their medical staffs. Yes, he’s been off some draft boards, but for other teams, it’d be a matter of taking precautions. @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/DuWdNgM2Tt— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 19, 2019
Round 2, Pick No. 47: Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware
Who else was available: Jeffery Simmons, Dexter Lawrence, Deebo Samuel, AJ Brown, Taylor Rapp
Nasir Adderley is the best safety in the 2019 NFL Draft. If he is still available at No. 47, the Panthers should run the card to the podium regardless of which offensive or defensive linemen may still be on the board. Adderley provides a ball-hawking, physical presence on the back end across from Eric Reid and would instantly upgrade this secondary.
"Is Delaware safety Nasir Adderley really a first-round worthy prospect?"— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) January 19, 2019
My Column: pic.twitter.com/EqxwLOMoq8
Round 3, Pick No. 77: Renell Wren, DT, Arizona State
Who else was available: Yodny Cajuste, David Edwards, Darrell Henderson, Will Grier, David Long
I know, I know. We still haven’t addressed the offensive line. A little frustrating, but to be expected under this front office. Here the Panthers add some beef to their interior line depth.
Renell Wren has a quick first step and provides explosive power when rushing up the middle. Drew Brees struggles the most when there is pressure up the middle. Hmm.
With Vernon Butler’s future up in the air, this pick becomes much more valuable down the road than it may be originally thought. Hey, at least Marty hasn’t reached for a backup quarterback yet...
Here is Wren plowing through a first round prospect at a senior bowl practice:
ASU DT Renell Wren vs. NCST OC Garrett Bradbury— Gavino Borquez (@GavinoBorquez) January 23, 2019
Wren’s sheer force from his bull rush is too much for Bradbury to get inside hand placement. pic.twitter.com/ZRrkWcN9vx
Round 3, Pick No. 100: Will Grier, QB, West Virginia
Who else was available: Joe Giles-Harris, Connor McGovern, Trayveon Williams, Dennis Daley, Miles Boykin
To be completely honest I’m not a huge fan of this move, but it really feels like its bound to happen. Let’s just hope Marty can contain his excitement and wait to pull the trigger on day three.
The Panthers have shown extreme interest here (according to Joseph Person) and seem to have dug themselves into a paranoia-induced state, forcing them to believe another team is waiting to snipe them in the second round for Grier.
The West Virginia product may end up a solid backup in this league, but is a solid backup worth a top 100 pick when you have other needs? Probably not.
Round 4, Pick No. 115: Dennis Daley, OT, South Carolina
Who else was available: Daylon Mack, Daniel Wise, Justice Hill, Mecole Hardman, Josh Oliver
Better late than never, as the Panthers bring in the local product from South Carolina. The Panthers have been able to turn some mid-round offensive line picks into gold (Trai Turner and Taylor Moton). Let’s hope they can keep that trend going. I will say, Daylon Mack out of Texas A&M was very tempting here.
Dennis Daley (LT 74 - South Carolina) w/good base and hand placement. Recognizes the blitz and does a good job by not crossing is set foot and his post foot. Puts some decent ability to transition laterally pic.twitter.com/MGRlJS4FmL— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) December 23, 2018
Round 5, Pick No. 154: Bryce Love, RB, Stanford
Who else was available: Jordan Scarlett, Elijah Holyfield, Sutton Smith, Myles Gaskin
Coach Rivera has made it clear that he wants to take some of the load off of Christian McCaffrey by finding someone with a similar skill set to spell him. This will help the Panthers to not show their hand to the defense based on their personnel while also giving CMC some well-deserved rest. Why not reunite the Stanford backfield with the addition of Bryce Love.
Love was a Heisman candidate during his Junior season in which he amassed 2,118 rushing yards. He surprisingly returned for his senior season and subsequently tore his ACL. In college, Love proved very talented at Stanford as a runner, but was not given many opportunities in the passing game. If the Panthers feel like they can turn him into a receiving threat, it may be worth taking a flier here.
If he's healthy, Bryce Love is going to be a steal in the draft. This run against Notre Dame (2018) exemplifies his ability to string moves together and explode through the second-level: pic.twitter.com/GCrghUvAFf— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) April 15, 2019
Round 6, Pick No. 187: Anthony Ratliff-Williams, WR, North Carolina
Who else was available: David Sills V, Travis Fulgham, Anthony Johnson, Gary Jennings Jr.
Ratliff-Williams carried a North Carolina offense plagued by horrendous quarterback play and a questionable scheme under since-fired head coach Larry Fedora. His strength lies in his speed and elusiveness as a return man, as you can see in the video below. The Panthers could use a strong upgrade in the return game, and Ratliff-Williams could be the guy to provide it for them.
UNC’s Anthony Ratliff-Williams takes the opening kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown. pic.twitter.com/iDmVjo4hLf— Ross Martin (@RossMartin_IC) November 10, 2017
7-round mock draft
1.16: Montez Sweat, Edge rusher
2.47: Nasir Adderley, Safety
3.77: Renell Wren, Defensive tackle
3.100: Will Grier, Quarterback
4.115: Dennis Daley, Offensive tackle
5.154: Bryce Love, Running back
6.187: Anthony Ratliff-Williams, Wide receiver
I can’t say I’m thrilled with how the board fell in the first round. Sweat has raw talent and ability, but I’m not sold this coaching staff would be able to get the most out of him. The availability of Adderley in the second round was shocking and forced me to pivot away from my strategy of addressing the offensive line early. I can’t stress enough how dumb it will be when the Panthers take a quarterback in the top 100, but if they do let’s hope its at pick No. 100. Either way, it’s time to sit back, relax, and watch some kids dreams get turned into reality.
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