How Sunday's Game Impacts The Panthers Draft Position

There has been a lot of debate on Twitter recently and in the C3 Open Mic forum about whether it would be better for the Panthers to win this Sunday and go to the Playoffs (which would give them no better than the 21st Pick in the Draft) or for them to lose and receive the projected 8th Pick in the Draft.  This comment from a C3 Follower (and C3 FF Champion) sums up the side of those hoping for the high draft pick.

“I see it this way: the playoff game is the piece of chocolate that's been calling your name all day; eating it will satisfy you short term, but it means more work in the gym later on to keep the girlish figure. Conversely, the top ten draft pick (and the loss that leads to it) is that piece of celery that may not taste very good now (or be as satisfying as that yummy piece of chocolate), it's the best thing for you long term, like it or not. I won't like it, but I'd rather have the celery, er, draft pick right now. Think it's the best thing for the team.” - Susan

I’m going to lay out for you what the difference in those two picks have looked like over the past couple of years and you decide which you would prefer.  First, let’s take a look at the 2014 Draft and compare the drafts of the #8 selecting team (Cleveland Browns) and the #21 selecting team (Green Bay Packers).   I’m not going to try to say that picking 21st is better than picking 8th, but I am going to show that you can get good (or bad) players at both spots and the key is to draft well and regardless of draft order.

Let’s start with the Cleveland Browns’ draft from 2014.  Their first selection was CB Justin Gilbert at the #8 spot.  Our friends at has him rated as the 63rd best CB in the NFL.  Did you hear his name last Sunday when they played at BOA?  Probably not, as he only played 17 snaps, all while fourth round pick, Pierre Desir played very well.  And to compare Gilbert’s ranking, Stiki Wiki from Carolina is ranked 19th and Josh Norman comes in at 23rd.  Justin Gilbert will probably get better but he is struggling right now and some teammates are questioning his future. Speaking of question marks, the Browns also selected Johnny Football with the 22nd Pick in the First Round.  I’ll let you decide if he is off to a great start or not.  Not.

I will give it to the Browns in Round 2, however.  Joel Bitonio is one of the best picks in any round last year.  As a matter of fact, PFF has him rated as the second best Guard in the league. Not bad for the 40th Pick in the draft. The Browns also selected RB Terrance West and the previously mentioned Pierre Desir.  Overall, the Browns did have a solid draft class.

Now let’s compare that draft class to Green Bay’s (who picked 21st).  The best name in football was there selection:  Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.  He won the starting Safety position in Green Bay and I hear his name when watching the Packers play.  He does make plays, but I must point out that PFF has him as the 64th rated Safety in the NFL by PFF.  So neither team’s pick set the world on fire this year, but both have promising futures. The Packers other draftees have also made an impact.  Their selection in Round 2 was promising WR, Davante Adams.  They also picked up an impressive Center and a promising TE.  Check out this film review of their three Offensive Rookies.  

A quick look at the previous year’s Draft shows similar comparative results. In 2013, the 8th overall selection was Tavon Austin (83rd ranked WR) by the Rams, while the Bengals took TE Tyler Eifert (injured) with the 21st overall selection.  I would take Eifert over Austin.

So Panther fans, I’m not here to say that the eighth pick would not be awesome.  As a matter of fact, I would have more fun between now and draft day if that is the case and would probably be in higher demand. However, when you look at the difference, there really is not one.  It is more important to pick well and to take the best player available that fits your team's scheme.  When you reach and take a player just because you need a player at that position, you will pay for it.  The Panthers did better with Stiki Wiki in the sixth round than the Browns did with Gilbert in the first (at least for this year).  So for those wanting us to get the high pick more than beating our rival and making the playoffs, are you sure it is worth it?  I am not.

We at C3 have a series of the top 64 players coming out in this years draft.  We are revealing eight per day for eight days.  And most importantly, I'll be pointing out if each prospect fits our schemes and needs or not.  Be a part of the conversation.

Leave your comments below and let me know your thoughts.  And follow me on Twitter at @PanthersDrafter

Mel Mayock