Drafttek.com has just updated their player ratings so I thought I would go check out what they have for their latest "Big Board" and their projections for the Carolina Panthers in the draft.
First, here's their top ten - for what it's worth - since several top teams (like the Rams) are shopping their high pick in this deep, deep draft:
2) St. Louis Rams - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
3) Jacksonville Jaguars - Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
4) Cleveland Browns - Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
5) Oakland Raiders - Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
6) Atlanta Falcons - Jake Matthews, OT, TAMU
7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State (??)
8) Minnesota Vikings - Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan St.
9) Buffalo Bills - Mike Evans, WR, TAMU
10) Detroit Lions - Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
Derek Carr going #7 overall is the shocker here, but again, it's that "QB premium" and whether it's Carr or Johnny Football only depends on what Tampa Bay's brass thinks their ceilings are. In my first mock draft done this season (on another website), I actually had Carr going to Minnesota at #8 overall before he became "fashionable" to project into the first round, let alone the top-ten. I think his arm strength is better than the three "top-tier" QBs - Manziel, Bortles, and Bridgewater all have good, not great, arms.
My own reasoning for taking Carr for Minnesota is the fact they'll be playing outdoors for the next two seasons while their new stadium is being built, and Carr's arm strength projects better for those conditions and he can throw into the biting wind without much issue....but we all know there's more to it than having a great arm.
I still think Manziel is a better choice to "win now" than is Bridgewater as Johnny Football's intangibles are head and shoulders above those of the other two. Can he hold on to the magic he showed while playing at Texas A&M?
We'll have to wait for all the pro days to come in, but Teddy's was LOUSY, raising a red flag on him. Since pro days are very controlled and scripted, the ball shouldn't really hit the ground unless a receiver simply drops the pass, but a number of Teddy's throws were just way off; others were behind the receiver. He'll have his chance at redemption in private workouts, but he hurt his value at his pro day. Stay tuned.
On to the matter at hand - DraftTek's simulation of the draft. I'm only posting the Carolina Panthers here but if you want to see the full deal, visit www.drafttek.com and see for yourself.
DraftTek Carolina Panthers 7-round mock draft:
1 (28) Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
Moses has good range and long arms with good power. He's versatile and has played both RT and LT with the ability to carry that to the NFL. He needs work on pursuit and angles lead-blocking and on outside runs and lacks great ability to redirect in tight spaces, so he's no guard. As a result, he could be susceptible to inside "swim" moves from speed rushers, but NFL coaching should shore up his technique issues. Projects as a day-one starter at LT for the Panthers. Huge kid who struggles keeping his weight down but more nimble than one might think.
Compares to Ryan Clady, Denver Broncos
2 (60) Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado
AT 6'0" and 175 lbs, he's very light for today's WRs and had some issues staying healthy in college so an NFL strength and conditioning program should greatly benefit this kid. He's a great athlete who runs right around a 4.4 in the 40, so the speed is there. He's also a very good route-runner and that, alone, will help him get open and be productive to a point from his first game. He's a natural hands-catcher with the pedigree (his dad was an NFL WR as well), and a great route-runner but that slight frame and durability issues are a concern. He missed all of 2012 with a torn ACL, but stayed healthy last year and his line was 79-1,280-10 in 2013. Averaged 42 yards per touchdown, and that is exactly what the Panthers need. Ironically he's an above-average run-blocker for a WR and if he can add some muscle to his frame he apparently fits the Panthers' offensive scheme quite well....although ideally suited as a slot receiver at the NFL level due to his build.
Compares to Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos
Jared is 6'1" and 195 lbs., so he has better size than Richardson, the previous pick, does. He's also a tad slower at 4.5 in the 40. He led the run-heavy Wisconsin Badgers the previous two seasons in receptions and was a former walk-on who worked his way to where he is now, speaking volumes about the kid's intangibles and work ethic. He's not a particularly gifted guy physically either in size or athletically but makes up for it with his cerebral approach to the game and could be a nice fit for the Panthers here with what he brings to the table. Without great speed, he makes up for it with some nice quickness and footwork in double-moves that have become so popular lately in the NFL. Has very soft hands and great field awareness but sometimes allows the ball to get into his body and breaks stride at times during the catch. What you don't get from him physically, he more than makes up for with preparation and instincts. In reality, had the same 40-time as Oregon's DeAnthony Thomas and is Wisconsin's all-time leader in receptions and hauled in quite a few passes that were highly contested. Also, note this: Out of the top 15 speedsters in the 40 at WR at the NFL combine the last 5 years, only one has a thousand-yard season....Julio Jones. Won the Burlesworth Trophy as the top player in the NCAA who began his career as a walk-on and has off-the-charts football IQ. Despite average size and below-average strength, he can play on the outside as he has great hand techniques to fight off press coverage, so he's got a unique skill set overall and would be an asset for any team to have. His likely-average "ceiling" - and history of concussions - keep him from climbing into the second round.
Compares to Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers
Interesting choice here, but if Star or Kawann go down, depth in the interior DL will become a concern and with all the passing, it's good to have a guy who can rotate in to keep the line from getting too gassed, so positionally, this pick makes sense. As for Sutton himself, he would be quite a "value" here and probably the "BPA" at this point in the draft. He's only 6'0" and 303 pounds, making him very stout, low, and able to use his LACK of height to his advantage in getting under taller NFL lineman's pad-levels. Also possesses a high football IQ and gets lateral very quickly to diagnose and blow up trick plays, screens, and misdirection runs. can probably play any position on the DL and would be a great, flexible asset in case of an injury anywhere on the D-line. Son of Mickey Sutton, a former NFL DB so the bloodlines are there here too. Probably won't be a huge star but a valuable contributor wherever he's needed for depth and and the rotation.
Compares to Geno Atkins, DT, Cincinnati Bengals
5 (156) Billy Turner, OT, North Dakota State
Another very good value pick for the Panthers here. At 6'5" and 315 lbs, but most of his weight is in his upper body with legs that don't go with the muscular topside. Generates his power from long arms and strong torso, but that won't work as well against NFL defenders. Needs time to develop his lower body, but shows good agility and quickness with that nasty streak coaches love. Gets to the second level well to blow up guys there in run-blocking but could struggle against stronger defenders until he gets his "NFL legs" under him. Has a great motor. He has the athleticism and quick feet to be a successful LT in the NFL but needs to do better sinking those hips and needs to get his leverage right, but that's a coaching issue that should be resolved. Probably isn't a day-one LT starter, but would be the #3 OT on the team, possibly battling Byron Bell to start on the right side. Played both positions in college, starting on the right side and then playing 44 games on the left to end his college career. With further physical development and NFL coaching, this kid has a very high ceiling.
Compares to Terron Armstead, New Orleans Saints
6 (188) Prince Shembo, OLB, Notre Dame
A "hometown" kid from Charlotte, Shembo is 6'1-1/2" and 258. He's a tad short but otherwise physically a solid linebacker but the biggest story to this kid is the fact he was accused of sexual assault in 2010 against Lizzy Seeberg, a student at nearby Saint Mary’s College who later committed suicide. Shembo of course proclaims his innocence, but questions will probably always remain regarding whether or not the university protected Shembo before the poor girl died. Muddying the matter further is the fact his parent immigrated from the Congo in 1986, so it's unclear if cultural differences and his upbringing had anything to do with it or if he truly was innocent, but targeted by a troubled young woman seeking publicity. Still, it's never a good thing to have this hanging around you but in the 6th round, there isn't a huge amount of draft capital at stake here. She claimed "inappropriate touching" in his dorm room...but then one has to wonder why she was alone with him in his dorm room to begin with. Let's not speak ill of the dead and suffice it to say Shembo requires a lot more "due diligence" than most incoming rookies would.
Here's a link to more complete info on that story:
The drama aside, Shembo has decent speed (4.7) for an NFL LB but played as a 4-3 DE in college. Very powerful and muscular. His size projects him to the OLB position in the NFL and/or possible nickel DE. The best thing about him is he has a motor that will not quit. He's more of an inside run-defender with good pursuit skills, which would seem to project him on the strong side in the NFL. If that's the case, he'll add some needed depth behind Pro Bowl LB Thomas Davis but shouldn't push him for the starting job. He's not known to be a skilled pass-rusher but few 4-3 OLBs are asked to do so very often. He's consistently around the ball, however, and that usually means good things happen for the defense.
Compares to Melvin Ingram, San Diego Chargers
The 5'11" 190 lb Florida underclassman ran only a 4.6 40 at the Combine, so he lacks ideal speed for the position. He was slow at the Florida pro day but on a wet field, so there's really nothing to be learned there. The weather forced them inside to run barefooted on a rubber track. Talk about less than ideal conditions! He had a pretty good 10-yard split (1.58) at the Combine, so that's some consolation.
Lots of conflicting reports on this guy - some say he's fast and fluid but the consensus is that he has the ability you look for in a corner as his game tape does show a guy with good "football speed" that plays faster than his Combine results would have you think. Shows good hands and ability to stick with his guy, and that's the bottom line. Will Muschamp, his college coach, says in the end teams will go to the tape and see that he plays faster than he's timed. He isn't very strong and can be overmatched against the large, strong receivers in the NFC South so he's probably better suited as a nickel corner covering the slot. He's not a great tackler, but has shown ability to strip the ball after allowing the catch.
He also has experience returning kicks and as a gunner in the special teams arena which adds to his value but probably needs at least a year to develop before he sees the field much anywhere other than on special teams and probably dime packages at the NFL level. He should make a roster but will be buried in the depth chart for a while. Big boom-or-bust potential with the needle pointing a bit more towards "bust" at present, typical of a seventh-round pick. His stock has slid considerably in the last few months with scrutiny.
Compares to Kelvin Hayden, Chicago Bears
An interesting mix, to say the least. Offense-heavy at the top, which is predictable, but defense-heavy with the later picks, which was not so predictable. Perhaps it's a reflection of urgency and "best available player" with the tackle from Virginia going perhaps a tad higher than he might otherwise.
Keep in mind a couple of things. First, "mock drafts" rarely have more than one player correct, but are useful in getting familiar over time with a large part of the incoming rookie class, their strengths and weaknesses, and team needs. Secondly, the "player comparisons" I've offered are only valid as rough comparisons with the rookie's size and style of play and are NOT to be used as comparisons for career trajectories here.
I think this particular mock does a pretty good job of hitting positions of need early while helping with the depth on defense later on. There's a nice mix of a couple of very versatile players, some starting-quality rookies, and late-round fliers on kids with some upside and would be a nice haul overall for the team.
It's simply fodder for discussion so let's hear what you have to say! Comments welcome below!
Go Panthers and keep pounding!
Follow me on Twitter @Ken_Dye
UPDATE: CB Antoine Cason and the Panthers reportedly have "an agreement in place." Terrell Thomas is on the radar too, so CB may NOT be a draft priority by May.