James Bradberry has played well thus far, but Carolina's defense hasn't been the same since losing Josh Norman. Having a true, No. 1 shutdown cornerback would help the Panthers get back to their dominant ways.
It would make sense for the Panthers to give up one of their second-rounders to move up for Leonard Fournette. He could be phenomenal for Carolina and would match up well against some of the undersized defensive lines in the NFC South. If the Panthers don't move up for Fournette, I could see them taking McCaffrey given his running ability, great football character, and what he would bring to their passing attack.
In 2016, McCaffrey averaged 6.3 yards per carry for 1,603 yards and 13 touchdowns. He totaled 37 receptions for 310 yards and three touchdowns through the air, too. McCaffrey also was a dangerous punt returner.
In my opinion, McCaffrey should have won the 2015 Heisman Trophy because he carried Stanford all season. McCaffrey was a home-run hitter and a threat to rip off a huge gain every time he touched the ball. McCaffrey has a tremendous burst to break into the open field with vision, cutting ability and elusiveness. In 2015, he averaged six yards per carry for 2,019 yards with eight touchdowns. As a receiver, he had 45 catches for 645 yards and five scores.
McCaffrey (5-11, 202) looks undersized, but he still should be a first or second-rounder. Teams love his work ethic and pushing his teammates to be better.
Rd. 2, Pk. 2
Demarcus Walker, DE/3-4OLB, Florida State
The Panthers grab an edge rusher to groom behind Julius Peppers.
In 2016, Walker totaled 68 tackles with those 16 sacks, 21.5 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles and two passes batted. He caught fire in the second half against Ole Miss to record 4.5 sacks and help lead Florida State to a huge comeback win over the Rebels.
The 6-foot-3, 280-pounder broke out in 2015 with 10.5 sacks, 15.5 tackles for a loss, five passes broken up and 58 tackles. He was a tough edge rusher for the Seminoles. Sources told me that they were projecting Walker to the second day of the 2016 NFL Draft prior to him announcing he would return for his senior year.
Rd. 2, Pk. 2
David Sharpe, OT, Florida
The Panthers could use a right tackle candidate considering the uncertain status for Michael Oher.
Sharpe was a solid left tackle for the Gators. He is a good run blocker and a better athlete with more quickness than one would think. Sharpe had a good first half against Tennessee's Derek Barnett before struggling in the second half.
For the NFL, Sharpe would probably be best as a guard or right tackle. As a sophomore in 2015, Sharpe saw action at both tackle positions. He was a good run blocker who flashed some pass-protection skills. Sharpe (6-6, 343) needs to improve his pass blocking for the NFL, but he has upside to develop. Sharpe needs to keep his weight in check and avoid lethargy.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech
The Panthers could use a tight end to pair with, and develop behind, Greg Olsen.
In 2016, Hodges totaled 48 catches for 691 yards with seven touchdowns. He improved as a junior and could be one of the real value picks in the deep 2017 tight end class. In 2015, Hodges recorded 40 receptions for 530 yards and six scores. He was a redshirt freshman sensation for the Hokies in 2014 and produced the best year ever in terms of receiving production by a freshman tight end at Virginia Tech. The 2014 season saw him haul in 45 catches for 526 yards and six touchdowns.
Hodges (6-6, 257) needs to improve his blocking for the NFL, but he could be a taller version of a Jordan Reed-type tight end, or and even a Mike Evans-type receiver on the outside.
Rd. 4, Pk. 4
Travin Dural, WR, LSU
The Panthers grab some wide receiver depth.
Sources say that Dural had early round potential before a torn hamstring injury. Perhaps he will recover his speed and suddenness after getting further from the injury. In 2016, Dural had 28 receptions for 280 yards with one touchdown. He totaled 28 receptions for 533 yards and three touchdowns in 2015, but also had two long touchdowns against Mississippi State called back on penalties. Even with inconsistent quarterback play in 2014, Dural was one of the SEC's breakout performers. He averaged 21 yards per catch with 37 receptions for 758 yards and seven touchdowns.
The 6-foot-1, 206-pounder plays larger than his size, yet has the quickness to make an impact downfield. Dural had the potential to produce more over his career, but LSU had awful quarterback play and kept the ball on the ground a lot.
Rd. 5, Pk. 5
Antony Auclair, TE, Laval
The Panthers grab some tight end depth to go behind Greg Olsen.
Rd. 6, Pk. 6
Kyle Kalis, G, Michigan
The Panthers could take some interior offensive line depth and have shown interest in Kalis.
Rd. 7, Pk. 7
Tanner Vallejo, ILB, Boise State
The Panthers hosted Vallejo and could use some linebacker depth.
Not going to lie it was hard to determine where the receivers would go since I was a little off on how high they went this past draft, but with better talent at key positions at the top I can see the sliding a bit this season. For the Panthers who continue to retool their offense around Cam Newton finding a true do it all receiver can be a nice pick up. Especially, with how Kelvin Benjamin has fallen out of favor with the coaching staff and Devin Funchess just being a down right disappointing pass catcher. I actually like the pick up of Curtis Samuel in the draft, but he figures to be a slot option. Kirk on the other hand can be an explosive play maker similar to OBJ up in New York. Combine that with Samuel and the threat of McCaffrey out of the backfield you actually have a modern day offense, instead of that ground and pound they had the past few seasons.
Last Weeks Selection: Mitch Hyatt OT Clemson
<i> 2017 NFL Mock Draft Pick (as of 2/20): Cam Robinson, OT </i>
The Panthers could use upgrades at right and left tackle. <br> <br>
Hyatt played well in 2016 and did his job to keep Deshaun Watson healthy. The 6-foot-5, 295-pounder had an impressive freshman season as the blind-side protector for Watson in 2015 as well. Not only did he help protect Watson, Hyatt did a nice job of opening holes for Wayne Gallman. Hyatt could use more strength for the NFL, but he is still a young player with time to develop. He also could be a candidate to move inside as a pro. <br> <br>
<u> <i> Pick change; previously Armani Watts, S </i> </u>
This team I think are being a tad bit overhyped by the media. The division is tough. I also do not think they did enough to protect Cam or enough on defense to slow down opponents passing game. This defensive line looks very shaky to me and needs some new talent to help out the back end.
Hubbard can easily become a starter on the edge over Mario Addison, Julius Peppers, and Charles Johnson. To me he is a similar talent to Bosa where he has high energy and a good pass rushing repertoire to get to the quarterback.
Carolina signed Matt Kalil, but he was a bust for Minnesota, so it is hard to bank on him turning things around for the Panthers. Michael Oher was released as well, so the Panthers could still be in the market for tackle help after this season. <br> <br>
Williams (6-6, 290) started at left tackle as a freshman and sophomore for the Longhorns. He was a steady pass protector and a consistent run blocker. Williams has good length, quickness and athleticism. It would be good to see him become stronger and show more heavy hands.