The Carolina Panthers have found themselves sitting at a draft position to all but guarantee a day one starter. This has not happened in quite some time. As such, it is important to remember the BPA strategy now more than ever, and especially in round 1.
Panthers GM Dave Gettleman will not pass on a player with All Pro type potential to fill a need with inferior talent. It just won’t happen.
That said, here are the top 4 prospects that are likely to land in Carolina at pick 8.
Jonathan Allen – Defensive Tackle – Alabama
I have been saying this for over a month now. If somehow Jonathan Allen is still on the board at pick 8, he will be a Carolina Panthers. Yes, he is listed as a defensive tackle. But for the Panthers he would mainly play the five technique end position where he will instantly be named the starter.
There is some concern over Allen’s shoulders, which may allow him to fall as far as pick 8. This brings back fond memories of Star Lotulelei falling in Dave Gettleman’s lap in 2013.
In Allen, the Panthers would have a talented pass rusher, run stopper, and another versatile tool along the defensive line that can slide in when necessary. It won’t be popular with casual fans, but it would be one heck of a pickup for the Panthers.
Jamal Adams – Strong Safety – LSU
Quite simply Jamal Adams is everything the Carolina Panthers could ever hope for at strong safety. Smart, aggressive, and quick enough to cover at the line.
You really only need to look at the Atlanta Falcons offense with speedy outside runners to understand why Adams would be the perfect pick for the Carolina Panthers in 2017. Take away the edge against that offense and the job of the defensive line gets that much easier.
Bonus: Selecting Adams would allow Kurt Coleman to slide back into the free safety position where he probably needs to be anyways.
Leonard Fournette – Running Back – LSU
Fournette is the only running back on the Panthers radar at pick 8. Yes, FSU’s Dalvin Cook is a good prospect, but not top 10 talent. Again, Gettleman won’t reach to fill a need when a more talented player at his position in available.
Some have argued that Fournette is not a good fit for the Panthers offense, as many times runners are hit behind the line of scrimmage. This is flawed thinking. The goal of the team is not to draft a back that can elude defenders due to bad offensive line play. The goal is to have the best runner behind the best line possible. I suspect the Panthers will address both of these items this offseason in a major way.
Fournette not only would have instant impact in the run game, but also is the best pass blocking back in the draft. Protecting Cam Newton will also come into play here as the decision is made.
Solomon Thomas – Defensive End – Stanford
Thomas has almost the exact frame that Charles Johnson has excelled at times in the Panthers defensive system. What Thomas lacks in height, he makes up for in motor. After watching Kony Ealy’s inconsistent play for 3 seasons now, wouldn’t it be refreshing to see a young defensive end that is just as talented but also gives 100% on every play?
Thomas is not the best defensive end prospect in the draft, but the position is so important and expensive that it the added value of a 5th year option may tip the scales in his direction. Premier defensive ends in the NFL demand top dollar. Having one locked down for 5 years may be too high a value to pass up.