As the Carolina Panthers prepare for their first round selection this Thursday evening, I would like to take a moment and address the thought that most are unwilling to accept. Yes, Carolina could very well choose a cornerback with the eighth pick of the draft. And you know what? It would be a great move.
Common consensus among national draft types is that the Panthers are happy with the results from last year and won’t be drafting a corner this year. I asked Carolina Panthers GM Dave Gettleman last week if that was indeed the case.
“Last year we draft Vernon Butler and we are sitting there with KK and Star.” Gettleman said. “We draft Shaq, we are sitting there with TD, Luke, AJ.”
“They’re the best guy at that spot? Come on down” he added. Clearly Gettleman does not shy away from drafting a position that isn’t really a need. In fact, as he pointed out, he has done it the past two years.
Now, stick with me here. Last year was a total catastrophe in terms of cornerback play for the Panthers. The embarrassment of the game in Atlanta alone probably gives defensive coordinator Steve Wilks night terrors to this day. There was a lesson there, and it was a real one. You cannot have too many good young corners when you play Matt Ryan and Drew Brees twice a year.
Fast forward to today. The Carolina Panthers are likely in a position to draft a legitimate shut down corner. Paired with James Bradberry, a stud rookie would give Carolina a starting secondary that could rival the Denver Broncos with Daryl Worley more than capable of stepping in when needed. This would be the strongest group of corners we have ever seen in Carolina. Tell me, is that not worth the 8th overall pick in the draft?
Sources close to the situation tell me the Carolina Panthers think highly of both Ohio State corners. Both Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley are possibilities for the Panthers at pick 8, and still in play if they choose to trade down. Lattimore is a speedy upstart with big potential, but Conley may actually be the better fit for the Panthers as he has better ability to press larger receivers (think Julio Jones).
Is drafting a corner a lock for the Panthers? Certainly not. But it is just as likely as running back, defensive end, or tight end in round one if Fournette, Adams, or Thomas are not available.