I am excited to see so many more Panther fans reading up on potential draft picks and doing their own mocks. I do, however, want to reiterate there is not "wrong" mock draft. Some may be more informed or accurate to what reality will be, but there is not "wrong" opinion on the draft and how it does down.
First I want to look at out missing positions, then out signings, then potential draft moves and picks.
The way I see it out biggest missing "pieces" are as follows and not particularly in any important order.
Future CB play and stability.
Future RT, LT, RG play and stability
Future DT (x2) Play and stability
Future OLB stability
Future WR Play and Stability
Future SS/FS Play
Future Special Teams Playmaking
Future K Play and Stability
That leaves the following "set and stable" with playmakers
FS (well it's stable at least)
To address this Dave "The Don" Gettleman has signed/resigned players to contribute, fight for roster spots, and/or be bodies. I don't particularly feel these signings "fix" the spots as they are, 1) One year deals and 2) no names to really make you rush out and buy a news paper add to predict a SuperBowl.
Understand there is till time to add more bodies/competitors/play-makers but our cap continues to be stretched thinner and thinner. There is only so much wiggle room available to "The Don". Luckily after next year, if he continues the current course, Gettleman will have much more space to move around in FA, thus making the Draft more of a frosting for the cake he is cooking that is the Panthers Roster.
Also notice most of our needs are not only for today, but building for the "Future". I believe Don Gettleman see's some good parts here and rightfully so. I am going to assume he will use an approach of 30+ guys on short deals while any long term FA signing will be a young player and possibly one that is "one the rise" instead of the bandaid deal you create in giving a 28-29 yr old player a 5 year big contract. Future Building = Long Term Success.
So, moving into the draft we have identified our needs as follows.
Struck through listings are going to be assumed as "fixed for this year or very low priority (late round pick/UDFA).
So we will assume Don Gettleman wants to BPA the following positions
CB, WR, RG and DT.
Lets get to mocking such a draft. I won't include trades, but I do want to address them.
This is a year we can get exceptional benefit from trading back. The 2013 NFL draft appears to me to be really flat from Pick 1 to roughly the middle of the 2nd round. Not a huge difference talent.
IMO a trade like the Revis for Beason/Kalil trade would be ideal. We move back roughly 8-10 spots and add a 2nd and a 4th/5th round pick. This would not change our needs mind you, but would allow us to begin a process of stockpiling picks. I would even go so far as to say we could trade away the extra second for more pick next season. As next years draft will have some VERY VERY interesting names at the top. All this said, I dislike mocking trades, so I wont do it.
Now lets mock our 5 picks. (14-44-108-148-182)
Round 1) Lane Johnson OT (Oklahoma)
Now you are saying "WTF KURB We NEEDS CB/WR/RG/DT" and that is true. However picking a player like Johnson can in theory help RG. The Panthers have experiemented with Bell at RG and Gross, as much as we love him, is getting older by the second. Lane could absolutely follow the same career path as Gross, starting at RT then taking over after he packs on muscle and experience. There is a good chance Lane will be taken earlier as there appears to be a definite "Big 3" in the OT's so alternate picks would be one of the 4 "need" area's.
Round 2) Keenan Allen WR, Cal.
Allen was considered a top 15 pick this time last year. He was straight balling at Cal during his softmore season. Then 2 things happened, his QB poo the bed and Allen hurt his Ankle and his Knee. That said the kid played last season and I "think" he has checked out medically in most everything. He is big fast and still has upside.
Another good option for a pick would be Jessie Williams, and him falling is a chance for sure.
Round 4) Terry Hawthorne CB Illinois
"Who"...Yeah I feel ya. This pick might be strange to many of you, but it fits with how I think about the draft. After picks 1/2/3 I personally start thinking of the draft as a big crap shoot. Round 4/5/6/7 are about getting a guy that COULD become The Guy. Hawthorne is that type of player. He is known for being a team guy and a ballhawk. He needs some refinement and if he gets it could be an exceptional DB.
I like the HoneyBadger in this area (4th/5th) as well, but I'm crazy like that.
Round 5) Bennie Logan, DT LSU
He's big, he's fat, he has good upside. I like when I read things like "high motor" when it comes to be DT's. A guy like Logan is some solid coaching up from being a starter. He does appear to already have the strength and drive to be a decent NT.
Round 6) Some Guy, Some Where, Some Position
Honestly for this round and 7th round and UDFA, All are a wash. I'm looking to add bodies with high potential and/or guys that are busted up and are going to heal before training camp. College OT's that can play OG (think Carl Nicks), CB's too slow that can become safeties, WR's that are missing "something" but are athletic to no end. Those kinds of things.
Hope you enjoy.