If someone would have told me at the beginning of Week 3 that the Carolina Panthers would respond to their impressive 2-0 start by going 1-8-1 over the next 10 weeks of play, I probably would have called them crazy. Now here we stand at 3-8-1, winless since October 5. The answers were never on our roster, but Panthers' fans hope that no longer rings true come May 11th. Here’s a look into a 7 round mock draft that would help fix some of our biggest needs, and provide depth in some of our shallowest positions.
Round 1, Pick #8: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M (Ht. 6’5 Wt. 300)
With Brandon Scherff off the board and Andrus Peat staying in school, the Panthers spring for the best player available at their biggest position of need. Arguably one of the most gifted players in this year’s draft regardless of position, Ogbuehi is a potential star in the making. His length is remarkable and his power is nearly unmatched, I’m sure Johnny Manziel would testify. He sometimes plays a little to passive and lets pass rushers push him around; this should never happen to a player with his skill set and measurables. If the Panther’s staff puts a little mean streak in him, we could have Tyron Smith Jr. protecting Cam’s blindside.
Round 2, Pick #40: Anthony Harris, SS, Virginia (Ht. 6’1 Wt. 190)
Our safety play has been terrible. Harper and Decoud are both slow and ineffective. In a shallow safety class, Gettleman decides to amend for his off-season debacles by drafting the smooth, wiry, and quick defensive back out of Virginia. Once Harris puts a little weight on his frame, he will be a constant force in the box and has the ball hawking skills to consistently create turnovers (8 interceptions in 2013). Depending on whether Tre Boston ever pans out, the Panthers could have a pair of young aggressive safeties on their hands.
Round 3, Pick #72: Rashad Greene, WR, Florida State (Ht. 6’0 Wt. 180)
Jericho Cotchery is a set of solid hands and good leadership, but not much else. The purest route runner in this years draft falls into Kelvin Benjamin and Cam Newton’s hands in the third round. Greene has his height, weight, and speed concerns, but so did Keenan Allen. With the 72nd pick, the Panthers get a smooth player who could produce right off the bat, his familiarity with Benjamin would help on they field and off. Greene could join in with Cam and Benjamin’s already established friendship and thrive. With steady growth from the emerging Philly Brown, the Panthers receiving corp would have the three most important components: size, speed, and route running.
Round 4, Pick #104: Cam Thomas, CB, Western Kentucky (Ht. 6’1 Wt. 190)
The Panthers' decision to part ways with veteran corner Antoine Cason leaves the cornerback position young, inexperienced, and one or two injuries away from being a complete catastrophe. Personally being a fan of Josh Norman and Bene Benwikere, I believe the cornerback spot isn't as big of a need as the previously drafted positions above. Let's hope we hit on another small school corner on day two of the draft with the selection of Cam Thomas. Thomas is a near perfect sized corner with a knack for making plays in the run game. He has some technique issues, and sometimes floats around looking to make the big play (reminds me of Tre Boston).
Round 5, Pick #136: Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE, UCLA (Ht. 6’3 Wt. 270)
Owamagbe Odighizuwa (O-wamg’-be O-dig’-e-zu’-a) could be a draft day steal. If the NFL draft was based purely on potential, this guy would be taken day one. Odighizuwa falls to us in round 5 based on injury and effort concerns (two hip surgeries). Right now he would be more of a project based on the learning curve he’d encounter with the Panthers' 4-3 defense. This pick doesn't have to do much with the Hardy scenario because Odighizuwa is more comfortable playing on the right side. However, Charles Johnson isn't getting much younger or cheaper, so this pick makes sense in Round 5.
Round 6, Pick: #168 Jamon Brown, OT, Louisville (Ht. 6’5 Wt. 350)
With our future left tackle firmly planted, it would be wise to add someone that could grow along side of him and solidify our line. Brown has a very big body and incredible length, but his footwork is slow and not very pretty. His limited movement might make him better suited for guard at the next level. Our offensive line is pathetic, and the selection of this developmental talent would be a solid option in round 6.
Round 7, Pick: #200 Blake Bell, TE, Oklahoma (Ht. 6’6 Wt. 259)
Blake Bell, the former highly touted high school quarterback moved to the tight end position this past offseason, and has 13 receptions for 154 yards and 4 touchdowns. A very curious player, the aptly named “Belldozer” combined for 24 rushing touchdowns in his first two years of college ball. Nevertheless, a raw multi positional player with unteachable size and high upside is all you can ask for in the final round.
UDFA Target: Dallas Burroughs, WR/KR, Boise State (Ht. 5’9 Wt. 165)
Burroughs lacks a lot of things, but he makes up for them all with his insane speed. Burroughs has an unofficial 40 time of 4.28 seconds! As an UDFA, it would be wise to bring him in and give him a look at a return job. Lets be honest, Brenton Bersin doesn’t exactly strike fear into opposing special teams on a punt return.
By Grant Hughes
Follow Grant on Twitter @KenjonVander