The Panthers don't target specific positions to fill needs. They select the top player on their board. We don't have access to it, obviously, but we can speculate, and I think the best prospect available is Marshon Lattimore. I've seen Lattimore as high as No. 2 overall in some mock drafts - including Charlie's - so by that measure, he would be a steal at No. 8 overall.
Besides, it's not like Lattimore doesn't fill a need. The Panthers signed Captain Munnerlyn to join James Bradberry, but Munnerlyn is a slot corner. Carolina could use a better starter across from Bradberry.
Pick change; previously Derek Barnett, DE
Rd. 2, Pk. 8
Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee
Jonathan Stewart is still a quality runner, but he turns 30 this March, so Carolina might envision someone like Alvin Kamara as Cam Newton's backfield partner for the next 8-10 years.
Rd. 2, Pk. 32
Budda Baker, S, Washington
There are some quality safeties still remaining on the board, and the Panthers will take one if they stay true to their "best player available" policy.
Pick change; previously Justin Evans, S
Rd. 3, Pk. 34
Antonio Garcia, OT, Troy
The Panthers signed Matt Kalil, which was a dubious move, to say the least. Even if he pans out, they'll still need another offensive tackle.
Pick change; previously Jermaine Eluemunor, G
Rd. 4, Pk. 8
Mock is currently being worked on. Last updated 3 hour(s) 12 minute(s) ago
Rd. 5, Pk. 8
Mock is currently being worked on. Last updated 3 hour(s) 12 minute(s) ago
There was perhaps no other bigger disappointment in the NFL in 2016 than the Carolina Panthers. After a 15-1 season and Super Bowl appearance, the Panthers seemed primed for greatness lead by reigning MVP Cam Newton. Those hopes were dashed almost instantly, as the team’s season eventually sputtered to a 6-10 record. It's hard to place the blame on one particular issue; with Newton’s inaccuracy, flaccid run game, and below average play from one of the best defenses in the NFL all playing a contributing factor. Despite their flaws, head coach Ron Rivera and GM Dave Gettleman always respond to adversity, and 2017 should be no different. The Panthers boasted the league's top offense a year ago, but finished at a mediocre fifteenth this past season. While Jonathan Stewart is still a serviceable running back, the 30-year old veteran isn't going to be around forever, and it may be time for the Carolina front office to start planning for the long-term future at the running back position to help take some of the pressure off Cam Newton. At 6’1 and 235 pounds, LSU’s Leonard Fournette is the draft’s top running back prospect. A true generational talent, Fournette is the best college running back since Todd Gurley burst his way on to the scene. A consensus All-American, Fournette put together over 4,000 all purpose yards and 80 total touchdowns during his stay in Death Valley. Before he even took his first snap at LSU, Fournette was already drawing comparisons to Adrian Peterson and Herschel Walker. Fournette is the real deal, possessing a rare combination of power, strength and speed that will drive fear into the hearts of any NFL defender. Though injuries and wear and tear on his legs may cause concern for some scouts, the former Tiger is a can’t-miss prospect and will be an instant game-changer for this Panthers team, which is exactly what they need to get back on track in 2017.
The Panthers have to improve their offensive line, and I think they will spend heavily on it in free agency. That would allow Carolina to find its running back of the future and get a special talent in Cook to lead an improved rushing attack that could help reduce the pounding on Cam Newton. <br> <br>
In 2016, Cook averaged 6.0 yards per carry for 1,765 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also had 33 receptions for 488 yards. Cook (5-10, 210) is well-built and has the speed to slash through a defense; however, he has some strange ball-security issues. Cook also has some power to him, but he seems to use it selectively as he runs out of bounds often and is consistently looking to bounce runs to the outside. In the passing game, Cook is a tremendous receiver out of the backfield and will be a weapon there. He reminds me of a young Marshall Faulk. <br> <br>
Teams do have some off-the-field concerns about Cook and his character. He escaped some legal issues last year, but teams say that Cook has an entourage of gangbangers and they worry Cook drinks too much. Staying out of trouble is a concern that teams have.
With Jameis Winston in the NFL, Cook carried the Florida State offense in 2015. He averaged 7.4 yards per carry on his way to 1,691 yards and 19 touchdowns. The sophomore also had 24 receptions for 244 yards and a score. As a true freshman in 2014, Cook averaged 5.9 yards per carry for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns. He caught 22 passes for 203 yards, too.
The Panthers made a huge mistake not upgrading their offensive tackles last offseason. This offseason, Carolina has to get at least one tackle upgrade to protect Cam Newton. <br> <br>
Robinson (6-6, 310) has played well in 2016 overall, consistently opening holes in the ground game and showing improved technique in pass protection. He shut down Arkansas' Deatrich Wise Jr., and there was only one ugly play where Ole Miss' Marquis Haynes bull rushed Robinson. Against Tennessee, Derek Barnett beat Robinson for a strip-sack and some other pressures. Robinson had some wins as well, but it showed that Robinson isn't an elite, "top of the draft," shutdown left tackle prospect. He had a better game against Myles Garrett, keeping the Aggies' superstar from recording a sack. Robinson looks quicker and more athletic this season than in past years. Sources say that Robinson lost 10-15 pounds over last offseason and that it paid off. <br> <br>
Robinson was a freshman sensation for the Crimson Tide in 2014 and started every game at left tackle after arriving at Alabama. He was the leader on an offensive line that allowed only 16 sacks in 2014. It didn't go as well in 2015 as Robinson allowed pressure and sacks on the quarterback, especially early in the year. He was better down the stretch, however, and it isn't all that surprising that he seems to have taken his play to another level in 2016. <br> <br>
For the NFL, Robinson could be best in the long run at right tackle. If he plays left tackle, he could be above-average. Some sources have compared him to the Buccaneers' Donovan Smith. Robinson provides an impact as a run blocker and has the potential to be a reliable pass protector. On a different note, he was able to skate on an arrest over the offseason before the 2016 season for possession of pot and an illegal gun. <br> <br>
In a draft flush with edge rushers, Thomas' pro-ready game stands out. He is not only quick enough to beat blockers off the snap, he is powerful, showing the grown-man strength, advanced hand technique and high-revving motor to make plays even when initially contained. Further, Thomas possesses many of the intangibles that project well to the challenges of life as a professional athlete, including the intelligence, maturity and even worldliness (he lived in Australia for five years) that should help ease his transition to the NFL.
Given his size, the greatest question regarding Thomas might be his fit. Smaller than most defensive tackles and lacking the burst and bend scouts generally prefer off the edge, Thomas is not exactly a traditional defensive lineman. He is powerful enough to handle two-gap responsibilities, however, and possesses the quickness to penetrate, projecting as a difference-maker almost regardless of scheme.
2016 First Round Pick: Vernon Butler, Louisiana Tech (30)
2016 Offense Rankings: Total (19) Pass (21) Rush (10)
2016 Defense Rankings: Total (21) Pass (29) Rush (6)
2017 Projected Salary Cap Space: $46,568,741
(1) Stewart ($6.25 M)
(2) Soliai ($2.5 M)
GM: Dave Gettleman
Head Coach: Ron Rivera
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Shula
Defensive Coordinator: Steve Wilks
Offensive Scheme: Erhardt-Perkins
Defensive Scheme: 4-3
Needs: (1) OT, (2) 43DE, (3) CB, (4) RB, (5) S
LEO: (1) Barnett (2) Webster
NT: (1) Lotulelei (2) Alecxih
DT: (1) Butler (2) Love
DE: (1) Horton (2) Ealy
NFL.com Grade: 6.21 ESPN Grade: 91
NFL Comparison: Nick Perry
Measurables: H: 6'3 W: 268 40: 4.75
The defensive line talent seen in the Southeastern Conference makes it difficult to make an all-conference squad. Barnett made the honor roll three times in three years. The Nashville native was the first freshman ever to start on the line for Tennessee in 2014, making 20.5 tackles for loss (which led the SEC) and 10 sacks on the year. Barnett led the Vols with 10 more sacks in 2015, earning a spot on the Associated Press All-Bowl Team with eight tackles and a sack versus Northwestern in the Outback Bowl. In his junior year, Barnett was a first-team All-SEC pick and first-team All-American by multiple outlets with 18 tackles for loss and 12 sacks (which ranked sixth in the FBS).
Strong edge presence with NFL-caliber hand usage and play strength. Barnett is one of the most productive defensive linemen to come out of the SEC in quite some time despite lacking the length and twitch that teams usually look for off the edge. His awareness and play traits should keep him near the action and he has the talent to step into a starting base end spot right away. There could be coordinators who view him as an early down, outside backer in a 3-4 with the ability to put his hand in the ground on sub packages.
Always in lockstep with Garrett from a production standpoint, Barnett continues to improve his game and he’s produced like a top-five pick in his three-year career at Tennessee. This season, he has the No. 1 pass rush grade among Power-5 edge defenders at 92.4 as he’s adept at using his hands to shed blocks both as a rusher and in the run game.
It’s an SEC 1-2-3 at the top of this draft class, with Barnett pushing Myles Garrett close for the nation’s top edge defender in each of the past two seasons. His 62 total pressures, including 12 sacks and 18 hits, from the defensive end position give him a pass-rushing productivity rating of 14.9, good for the sixth-best mark at the position in college this year, while he has been a solid run defender in each of the past three seasons too.
Barnett has been one of the best players in college football since he touched the field his talent has been significantly been over looked as his co-draftee Garrett has garnered most of the hype.
Barnett could defiantly help the Panthers pass rush as their ends have some age and they have some players that may be lost to Free Agency.