The Carolina Panthers are an interesting team. They have done a good job all year competing, but it’s not showing up in the win column. They are clearly set at QB moving forward with Cam Newton, but have holes in a lot of other places (not running back) and could use overall depth everywhere, so mocking them is kind of the way I like to do things-Best player available. They do not have a third round pick this year, but have all of their other picks (I don’t think any extra’s in the 6th or 7th round either).
Right now the Panthers are picking second, I expect they’ll be picking closer to 6th when all is said and done, but for now we’ll go with second overall. To create value I used Walterfootball.com’s big board for the first four rounds.
1st round-Matt Kalil, T, USC
In my latest mock draft I put Justin Blackmon over Kalil here at #2 because I was thinking that with Gross and Otah they might be more interested in adding a wide receiver talent, even though Kalil is pretty clearly the best non-QB prospect in this class. While I read some Carolina Panthers blogs and discovered that there are many fans also think that they should go Kalil so perhaps it is the right way to go. Gross has some age (and in the games I’ve watched hasn’t played great anyway) and Otah has a history of straying injury free. I’m not sure how they’d work this situation out, but perhaps you just can’ tpass on a franchise LT to protect your franchise QB for the next 10 to 15 years.
2nd round-Dwight Jones, WR, UNC
Dwight Jones is a big bodied wr who would perfectly complement the smaller speedy Steve Smith. Jones is not just a slow moving possession WR though and can make plays down the field because of his ball skills. Jones, to me, is the last most likely option as a #1 WR moving forward (there are other guys who have the skill set to become #1 WR, but they are much more raw and are based more on upside). The Panthers might actually need more help on defense than offense, but Jones is good value and the Panthers want to set up Newton for the future to ensure he continues to improve into the franchise QB they know he can become. It’s hard to pass up a DT here though if Alamead Ta’amu, Devon Still (doubt it), or Brandon Thompson are available.
4th round: Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia
Boykin is a talented cornerback who happens to be ranked 97th on walterfootball.com’s big board so I scooped him up to add to the Panthers. Boykin is not only a good talent at the cornerback position, but he also has abilities as a return man. Now the Panthers can’t ask Boykin to jam wide receivers at the line of scrimmage, but if they want a guy who can mirror WR and dominate in the slot Boykin is a player they need to grab if he’s still available in the fourth round. The Panthers need to find someone who can make plays on the football, they have only two interceptions from the CB position on their roster, and only 7 total.
5th round: Trenton Robinson S, Michigan State
Other places have Robinson projected higher than the 4th or 5th round, but he’s undersized and is not a terrific athlete so this is more likely the value for him. He is Mockingthedraft’s 9th overall ranked free safety as well, our resident Michigan State expert and lead writer (Reggie) has also thinks he is a third day pick. Robinson may not be a dynamic player, but he does make some plays on the football. He has 8 interceptions the last two years. the Panthers need someone in the secondary who could make plays on the football.
6th Round: Dominique Hamilton, DL, Missouri Tigers
This might be slightly lower than Hamilton should go, but he’s not a great pass rusher and those kind of guys tend to fall in the draft. The Panthers added defensive tackles in the second and third round last year so I don’t think they’ll necessarily attack that position in the 2012 NFL Draft unless there is good value present (at the top of round two specifically). Here in the 6th round they get a guy who has enough ability to develop into a future starter at the position, which is a rarity for the 6th round. But like any 6th round pick Hamilton has his fair share of flaws, he’s not a great pass rusher, and he has an injury history, he also has lower production (5.5 tackles for loss through November 24th).
7th Round: Jeff Thomas, LB/FB Indiana Hoosiers
Thoams is by no means a great player, but he’s a hard working, smart, tough football player who has some versatility. He plays LB at Indiana, but has the build that could handle fullback, a position he’s played before. Thomas is also a glue guy who you add to your team and he brings an intensity to special teams. Right now the Panthers have Greg Olson listed at the top of their depth chart as their top Fullback, if they want a guy who can play a more traditional full back role, but also potentially be an emergency linebacker and be a guy who does well on special teams, Thomas is the guy. In the 7th round teams rarely find any sort of long term starters, but they can find special teams help.
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