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  1. So, who will the Carolina Panthers select in the first round of the NFL draft? Last year I named Shaq Thompson as one of four first round possibilities. This year, I believe it comes down to these four players, and I will explain why.... First, I believe both Clemson defensive ends will be off the board by pick thirty. If either are still there for some strange reason, they are in play. Second, I believe any wide receiver prospects the Panthers would consider in the first will also be off the board. But again, if a guy like Baylor's Corey Coleman somehow drops to 30.... he is the BPA and would not be passed up. So who does that leave? Here are the four guys I feel could be available and fit the Gettleman mold. Two on defense, two on offense. Vernon Butler Defensive Tackle - Louisiana Tech 6'4 323lbs With a first round run made on receivers and defensive ends, Butler could possibly fall to 30, and if so may be far too enticing for Dave Gettleman to pass up. Afterall, big men allow you to compete, and Butler is a big big man. Butler's availability would truly put Gettleman's "Best Player Available" convictions to the test. Defensive tackle is not a pressing need for 2016, but could be seasons to come. It is unclear if the Panthers can afford to keep the KK Short / Star Lotulelei combo in tact long term. Additionally, the Carolina Panthers know that their pass rush must improve this season, and Butler would be one way to help that happen. Vernon Butler lined up next to KK Short on third and long would be an absolute nightmare for opposing offenses. The Panthers defensive ends would also benefit from such a pairing, reducing the likelihood of double teams. I like it. I like it alot. Emmanuel Ogbah Defensive End - Oklahoma St 6'4 273lbs Here is a case where the BPA could also be in a huge area of need, ala Kelvin Benjamin a couple of seasons ago. Ogbah has been mocked anywhere from early twenties to early second round, landing him squarely in the Panthers draft territory. The Panthers are in desperate need of a pass rush from the defensive ends this season. Ogbah would make an immediate impact, exactly what Dave Gettleman likes to see from a round one selection. Derrick Henry Running Back - Alabama 6'3 247lbs I don't recall a more controversial draft prospect than Derrick Henry. Some love the idea, others loath it. What I can tell you is that Henry would fit in very well on the Panthers offense. Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert are on the later end of their Panthers careers. The need is absolutely there for a bigger bodied runner, and you don't get any bigger bodied in a runningback than Derrick Henry. Recently, the Panthers have been unable to "impose their will" at times on short yardage situations. Often, they resort to incomplete passes or being stuffed at the line on 3rd or 4th and one. Derrick Henry could help remedy those ills. Hunter Henry Tight End - Arkansas 6'5 250lbs I have been preaching Hunter Henry for a while now. He is a first round talent that may not be taken in the first round. If not, I have a feeling a second round trade up could happen to grab him as the Panthers did for Devin Funchess. Still, there is a chance the Panthers do not risk losing him and pull the trigger at 30 where he would still be a good value. Henry would finally give the Panthers the personnel to have an intimidating two tight end package, something fans have missed since the Olsen - Shockey 2011 season. Sure would be nice to see that again, wouldn't it? So there you have it. One of the above players is your next Carolina Panthers first round draft pick. View full article
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