A few days before the draft, some of the C3 writers agreed to a friendly bet that pinned each writer’s Panther mock draft choices against one another. After this experience, it is safe to say that predicting all nine Panther selections is a hard. Very hard. It did get off to a good start however, when I mocked Shaq Thompson to Carolina in round one. Here are the several reasons why I thought he’d be the choice at #25.
Reason One: The obvious
A few days prior to the draft, Shaq Thompson told reporters that he had heard more from the Panther’s organization than any other team. This was very telling to me, if a no bull crap organization like the Panthers shows interest in you, they are probably interested in you.
Reason Two: Versatility
Any defensive coordinator loves a guy that can perform in multiple areas. Thompson is a jack of all trades and will make Sean McDermott a happy man. He can play weak-side linebacker, giving the Panthers a three-headed monster behind the defensive line. You can move him to safety, where he’ll be a hard hitter and provides coverage skills that won’t make you bite your finger nails. He can also play running back in a pinch, he averaged 7.5 yards per carry at Washington. So it is very likely you’ll see him play both sides of the ball for the Panthers over his career.
Reason Three: He’s a safe pick
I think he is a safe pick, most analysts don’t. Many have said that the Panthers spent a first rounder on a guy without a position, I say they spent a first round pick on a guy with three positions. If he fails at linebacker he will get a shot at strong safety, if he fails at safety he will get a shot at running back. The odds are in his favor to succeed at one of these positions. Pete Prisco gave us a D for the pick, saying he didn’t understand why Carolina went defense with such a big need on the O-Line. Well Pete, you must not know what the phrase “reach” means.
Reason Four: The fans
With all these things running through my head, I figured the Panthers were going to draft Thompson. But I didn't know when they might do it, considering some analysts had him as a second or third round pick. That’s why the poll vote in the article “Panther Nation you are on the Clock: Part 2 Defense,” played such a integral roll in my decision. Shaq Thompson won the poll vote for which defensive player we should draft in the first round. If I can’t trust Panther Nation, who can I?
To some, this may sound like a delicate and tedious process, but in reality it’s just a pick by a guy who knows just a little bit about football. This can be evidenced by the fact all my other picks were major strikeouts. One thing I do know however, is that Shaq will be a great player, mainly because analysts hate the pick. It seems every time the analysts criticize a pick of ours (which occurs on a regular basis), they end up being great players. NFL Draft Scout Matt Miller has realized the trend (admitted that he’s been burned by the Panthers), and has given the Shaq pick an “A” grade. Maybe this time next year, the NFL talking heads will go the way Matt Miller has, and just marvel at Gettleman’s genius.
By Grant Hughes
Follow Grant on Twitter @KenjonVander