The consolation prize for having a terrible year like the Panthers are having is the higher draft selection that is awarded. Win the division and you will be picking 21st or so. Finish 2nd-4th and you pick in the Top 10. I do contend that it is better to win the Division and take your chances. However, the point of this article is to look at who is out there for the Panthers to pick. I’m sure you all read my recent article on Three Hot Picks for the Panthers. Today I’m going to focus on the Top 5 Tackles in the Draft and where they look to be drafted. The first three are projected as Top 10 Picks:
1. Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M- This young man has everything except experience. He has played three different positions in his career and has played behind both Luke Joeckle and Jake Matthews. He has not had the best Sr. season, as he has been moved to RT. However, Ogbuehi has the ideal body for a starting LOT. He is 6’5, 305 lbs. He has long arms, quick feet and can swing his hips. He is an exceptional athlete and I’ve seen some very good tape on him, even in his Sr. season. Many say his move was not based on performance rather the need for another Tackle and the best option was to move an Interior lineman with LT feet out to LT, and move Cedric back to a position he played before. This allowed A&M to have only one person learning a new position rather than two. Whether that is true or not, Cedric has all the physical tools and a good demeanor. NFL teams will take a chance with elite athletes that have elite bodies. He may not be a Pro-Bowler his first year, but he will be for years to come. Mel-Projected Top 5 Pick
2. Brandon Scherff, Iowa- This young man is tough and will be an upgrade to any line. The problem is his body type projects that he most likely will move inside to Guard in the NFL. He kind of reminds me of Zack Martin in that he was a LT in College and has the body type to move inside. Look how Zack Martin has improved the Cowboy O-line. Brandon Scherff would do the same. Watch his tape and you like what you see except he is not exceptional at any one thing. He is not the best athlete, like say Andrus Peat is, but he is usually there making the right play. Powerful blocker that I think may play either Guard spots, or could do just fine at RT in the NFL and certainly would be an upgrade over either Byron Bell or Nate Chandler. But he would not be our answer at LT. Mel-Projected Top 10 Pick.
3. Andrus Peat, Stanford- Coming in at 6’7/315 lbs. Peat has an NFL body and I like how he is a top flight athlete too. Watch his tape against Notre Dame and you’ll see a player that plays with power and instinct. I like how when his opponent tries to speed rush him, he cuts them off with exceptional body control and bend. I also like that he’s played in a pro-style offense and he will only get better with more reps. He can get over extended and off balance at times and doesn’t have the fluidity that Ogbuehi has, but I do think he is the surest of the top 5 to start at LT in his first season. Would be a solid pick for the Panthers. Mel-Projected Top 10 Pick.
4. Cameron Erving, FSU- Good size at 6’5/309 lbs and plays for protects a QB with a similar skillset to Cam in Jameis Winston. Erving is a very good athlete and is smart too. Has also played Center. Has good waist flexibility and knee bend. He can get overly aggressive and lunge at times instead of letting the defender come to him. Good coaching and more reps will be needed, but Erving can definitely play at the next level. Most likely at RT but will get his chance at LT. Mel-projected late 1st, early 2nd Round
5. La’el Collins- This is a guy that I liked for over a year now and would most likely be a RT. If a RT for the Panthers, he’d start alongside former teammate, Trai Turner. While he has good size (6’5/315) and experience while playing in the SEC, the more I watch him, the more I’m concerned about him starting at Tackle. He tends to get knocked off balance too easily and will get beat by speed rushers. He would be an upgrade at RT, but he may also be a candidate to move inside to Guard. Mel-projected 2nd Round Pick
So Panther Nation, there are five top-flight Tackles that are anticipated to go in the first two rounds of the 2015 Draft. Any of them would upgrade our current O-line. However, none of them are without their concerns. I’d say Ogbuehi has the most upside, Scherff has the least downside, while Peat is the most likely to play LT for us. There are others out there too, like Spencer Drango, Ty Sambrailo and Erick Flowers, but the above five are ones that I think have the best shot of starting in 2015 for your Carolina Panthers. Follow me on Twitter, comment below and share your thoughts @PanthersDrafter.