Now that the Panthers season has come to an end, it is now time to focus on two things: The Draft and Free Agency. Other writers are going to be writing on who is out there in Free Agency. This article takes a look at the Draft and what the Panthers can realistically expect at Pick #25. And what does this draft offers in terms of depth and strengths. This article is purely from a Panther fan’s perspective but offers good information for all fans that are interested in the draft. If you want to look at the top-rated talent and take a look at some film on them, you should check out Mel’s Top 64 here and take a look at these players for yourself.
Best Player Available vs Need
I do believe that 90% of a team’s selection should be driven by best player available, as opposed simply basing the pick on need. For example, I believe you don’t select an Offensive Tackle simply because you don’t want to see Byron Bell start for us next year. You notice I did say 90% and did not say 100% as I do believe common sense has to come into play. Moreover, If you have a quality player available at 25 and he plays a position of need, he will take priority over an even a slightly higher graded player at a position that isn’t a priority. For example, I would not select Benardrick McKinney over Kevin White even though I have him rated slightly higher. In this scenario, I’m taking the play-making WR over a top-notch MLB. See my point?
Quality of 2015 Draft
In my estimation, this Draft is solid but not great. Like last year, there is good depth at the WR position and offers moderate quality at the CB and OL positions. At 25, you can not have one guy targeted, rather you have to see who falls and take the best player that fills a need. At 25, the Panthers could potentially target talents (that if they were not injured) would not be available to us. This year, two that fall into that category are Todd Gurley, the elite RB out of Georgia and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, the All American CB out of Oregon. Though possible, I do not see either of these two being targeted in Round 1 but potentially in Rd 2.
Who The Panthers Will Target
I could see the Panthers targeting a LOT, ROT, FS, WR, and CB and in that order of priority. Here are some names to keep an eye on that play the above positions and could be there when the Panthers are on the clock:
Ronnie Stanley (LOT out of Notre Dame)- The best suited LOT prospect in the Draft. DraftTek says he will be available at 25, so as their Panthers Analyst, I take him every chance I can in their regularly released Mock Drafts. However, I doubt he is there. I have him rated as the seventh rated prospect.
La’el Collins (LOT out of LSU)- This is a very popular target for Panther fans. He has great size and an aggressive streak that is appealing. He also played with RG, Trai Turner. Here’s a warning though: Watch his tape and you find he has below average balance and gets knocked off his feet on a regular basis. I could see him playing ROT but would be weary to say he will start at LOT. I have him rated as my 40th rated prospect and would not take him at 25.
Cameron Erving (OT out of FSU)- This guy is one of my favorites. He is versatile and athletic. He actually could be Ryan Kalil’s back up while starting at RT and possibly even LT with time. That versatility is wildly underrated. I’d be happy with this pick.
Ereck Flowers (LOT out of Miami)- Here’s a guy that I”m a big fan of and could really shoot up draft boards after the Combine. 6’5/322 lbs. and very quick feet. Is a mauling run-blocker so would fit what the Panthers want to do most. Has some trouble with speed rushers but I would like him, even at 25.
Kurtis Drummond (Free Safety out of Michigan St.)- This would be a great pick at 25. Good size at 6’1 and had four INTs each of the last two years and is a three-year starter. Very fluid hips and would add good coverage skills to our DBs. I have him ranked 29th, watch him for your self.
Kevin White (WR out of West Virginia)- This would probably make me the most excited of any of these 10 players. This guy would be the play-maker that Cam needs. He runs flawless routes and has top-notch speed. IF he is there at 25, we have to take him.
DeVante Parker (WR out of Louisville)- At 6’3/209 and 4.4 40 with huge catching radius, would be a good fit in Carolina. Needs work on route running though. Is why I prefer White.
Trae Waynes (CB out of Michigan St.)- Very good size at 6’1 and runs 4.5 40s. Would be a great pick. Watch his film here.
What It All Means
This week (Jan. 15) is the deadline for players to declare themselves eligible for the draft. Above are eight players that I could see the Panthers drafting (10 if you include Gurley and Ifo). Though a lot can and will change between now and draft day. Come back and visit this site for all the Panthers draft-talk. But should the Panthers take any of the above 10 players, we will upgrade our team and should continue to improve.
If you want your voice heard, leave a comment below, I’ll answer all questions and thoughts. Also, if you want to write your opinions, make it good and let me know that you want to and I will even post your write up here on Cat Chronicles.