It seems like every mock draft on the planet has the Panthers drafting Kevin Dodd. It's a pick that makes a ton of sense, as the Panthers may not have Charles Johnson beyond 2016. Dodd would be the best player available in this scenario.
*** OTHER 2016 NFL DRAFT POSSIBILITIES: ***
1. Laquon Treadwell, WR - Treadwell could fall because of his awful 4.64 40. If so, he won't drop past Carolina.
2. William Jackson, CB - Here's another spot for Jackson, as the Panthers desperately need a cornerback in the wake of Josh Norman's departure.
Pick change; previously Laquon Treadwell, WR
Rd. 2, Pk. 31
Su'a Cravens, OLB/S, USC
Per our Pro Day Results page, Tony Pauline reported that the Panthers have scary levels of interest in Su'a Cravens. I initially was confused, given that Carolina drafted a similar-type player last year in Shaq Thompson. However, Thompson is more linebacker, while Cravens is more of a safety, so it would make sense for the team to have two interchangeable linebacker-safety hybrids.
Rd. 3, Pk. 30
Harlan Miller, CB, SE Louisiana
The Panthers lost Josh Norman to the Redskins - go here for the Josh Norman signing grade - so they'll have to take a cornerback in the first two rounds of the draft.
Rd. 4, Pk. 31
D.J. White, CB, Georgia Tech
The Panthers were expected to draft a cornerback prior to Josh Norman's release. Thus, there's potential for them to select two corners in the first four or five rounds.
Rd. 5, Pk. 29
Willie Beavers, OT, Western Michigan
The Panthers could address their dire tackle situation much earlier than this, given how bad Michael Oher and Mike Remmers were in the Super Bowl.
I think Carolina will stick with addressing its offensive front even after losing Josh Norman. If the Panthers go with a cornerback in the first round, I think it would be Virginia Tech's Kendall Fuller. He's a great fit in their defense. However, obviously Carolina needs to improve the protection for Cam Newton. Here's an upgrade at right tackle.
Ifedi (6-5, 324) was a steady right tackle for the Aggies and is an athletic blocker with quickness. He has more strength and nastiness to him than other recent Aggies line prospects like Luke Joeckel, Jake Matthews and Cedric Ogbuehi. Some scouts think that Ifedi would be better off at guard in the NFL, but most teams are projecting him to right tackle. Ifedi has good feet and athleticism, but is inconsistent with his bending and can reach after some blockers. That lends him to being a better fit at right tackle rather than a candidate to play left tackle.
Rd. 2, Pk. 31
Su'a Cravens, OLB/S, USC
The Panthers could use a safety upgrade, and they have shown a lot of interest in Cravens.
In 2015, Cravens totaled 86 tackles, 15 for a loss, 5.5 sacks, six passes broken up, two forced fumbles and two interceptions. He recorded 68 tackles with 17 tackles for a loss, five sacks, three interceptions and nine passes broken up in 2014. Cravens was moved from safety to linebacker that season, but his best role in the NFL could come as a safety on run downs and a linebacker in passing situations. A good defensive coordinator could get a lot of out of Cravens.
The 6-foot-1, 226-pounder is physical, strong and quick. As a freshman, he totaled 52 tackles with four interceptions, one pass batted and a forced fumble. Cravens was named a Freshman All-American and a All-Pac-12 honorable mention.
Rd. 3, Pk. 30
Zack Sanchez, CB, Oklahoma
The Panthers grab some cornerback talent after moving on from Josh Norman.
In 2015, Sanchez totaled 45 tackles, seven interceptions and seven passes broken up. The junior has ball skills and can make big plays, but he can be a gambler, which led to a few games in 2015 during which he had some issues in coverage.
Sanchez was awful in 2013 as a freshman, and teams constantly picked on him for big plays, but he was vastly improved in 2014 for the Sooners. Sanchez was an all-conference pick that year and held up well when teams targeted him. He had 43 tackles with six interceptions and eight passes broken on the season. As a freshman, Sanchez picked off two passes and batted away 13. The 5-foot-10, 185-pounder could stand to fill out his frame. He's a nickel corner for the NFL.
Rd. 4, Pk. 31
Josh Ferguson, RB, Illinois
The Panthers grab some running back competition behind Jonathan Stewart.
Sources have said that Ferguson has impressed them as a fast running back who can contribute as a receiver and on special teams. Over 2014 and 2013, Ferguson averaged more than five yards per carry for over 700 yards. Each season, he caught 50 passes as well. Those 100 passes included six touchdowns.
Ferguson was banged up with a shoulder injury in 2015, but averaged 5.5 yards per carry for 708 yards and three touchdowns. He also recorded 38 receptions for 280 yards and two scores. Sources say that the 5-foot-9, 198-pounder could end up going as high as the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Carolina needs help on the offensive line, so a guy like Germain Ifedi could be the pick here. Having a big, strong, and fast quarterback like Cam Newton can mask some of those weaknesses on the offensive line though, so I think Carolina goes with a slight luxury pick in the form of Kevin Dodd. Charles Johnson is a stud, but Kony Ealy hasn’t exactly lit up the sack column in his first two seasons. Kevin Dodd will bolster the Carolina pass rush and could go much higher than this. I believe he just went at #12 in NFL networks Mock Draft live, so I believe Carolina takes the lesser need for better value/best player available. That’s what playoff teams do, they build their roster by taking good players instead of reaching for need, that’s how they got to be playoff teams in the first place. Dodd fills a need anyways, so this is a good pick for the Panthers.
In a previous mock I wrote about how I wanted to mock a corner here and even mentioned Alexander by name, but I decided against it as I didn’t think he was worth the selection. Man have things changed. And I’m not talking about Alexander’s stock because that hasn’t changed much over the past few weeks; I’m talking of course of the whole Josh Norman shenanigans. Who knows if there’s anything behind the scenes we don’t know about that lead to his disfranchising and ultimately departure. What we do know is now a huge need just became an absolutely disastrous situation if an upgrade isn’t made. I’m not a believer in drafting solely for need (the best teams usually draft best player available or at least to the best of their abilities) and the Panthers are absolutely one of those top level franchises. However, this is different. The number one corner for Carolina right now is either Brandon Boykin who couldn’t even play in Pittsburgh’s abysmal secondary last season or Bene Benwikere (amazing name by the way) who is nowhere near anything special. Considering the only other real weakness on this team was safety it’s safe to say secondary help is a dire need these days in Carolina. Alexander isn’t the close-to-perfect prospect many originally may have thought right as the college football season ended, but he’s no slouch either. Blessed with the an amazing sense of arrogance and confidence (an amazing trait for a corner) and top notch quickness and man to man cover skills, this guy really looks the part while watching his tape. But, something is just missing. First, his size definitely holds him back a little bit as he’s just 5’10” 190 pounds. Second, the lack of production is really scary. He had ZERO interceptions in two years at Clemson and only 11 passes defended. Now, a lot of that truly has to do with teams just shying away from him entirely as he was all over the receivers he was covering, but even still it’s really alarming that his ball skills didn’t lead to at least ONE accidental interception or something. At the end of the first/early second round this guy is worth the risk. Carolina fills their dire need with a guy who can step in right away and hopefully make an impact.
It's a miracle that Cam Newton wasn't the most sacked QB in the NFL considering he had Michael Oher and some guy named Mike Remmers as his offensive tackles. They might be able to get away with another year with Oher, seeing as how Newton is elusive and skilled enough in the pocket to avoid most pass rushes, but Remmers must be upgraded. Spriggs is considered to be a very athletic OT that really impressed NFL scouts at the combine, in addition to his consistent game tape at Indiana. He should be able to start right away for Carolina.
This guy is an enigma. He’s a spectacular athlete, and even that might be selling him short, he’s got great size, and elite production over his career finishing his final season with a conference leading 13 sacks and the Big 12 Defensive Player of the year award. Yet something is still missing. The biggest knock in his game is definitely his motor. He tends to take plays off and not show maximum effort on every play which takes him out of the game at times, especially late in games. He also tends to play a little stiff and upright which is pretty strange given his fantastic athletic testing scores, which leads to believe maybe those scores are fluky which does not help his case. Still, his upside is too much to ignore. This type of mix of size and production don’t come along every day for the Super Bowl runner-up without too many needs (considered mocking a corner here but Mackensie Alexander is not worth the pick here as he continues to fall) so this pick just makes sense. Super Bowl superstar Kony Ealy is young and on the rise at one end spot but Charles Johnson struggled last year and signed only a one year deal so the other end spot remains a need in the near future. Ogbah can come in, learn, and hopefully improve his motor and conditioning behind Johnson and Ealy and then step up next year if need be. Teams can never have too many pass rushers either so adding depth is never an issue. Carolina tends to do some crazy wacky things on draft day (Linebacker was not considered a need last year as well as Shaq Thompson not being thought of as a prospect to be chosen as highly as he was) yet they almost always work out as Dave Gettlemen has done a masterful job at working this roster so this pick truly could be anything. However, defensive end is probably the second biggest hole on the roster behind corner so this seems like a pretty logical fit.
Jonathan Stewart always has been a tank. Last year he performed well on an offense that was mostly the "Cam Newton Show". The Panther averaged 142.6 yards on the ground a game. They also averaged the most amount of attempts a game. So a running back who knows about carrying the load and being a tank himself should be a no brainer for the reigning NFC Champs. Moreover Cam Newton averaged 40 of those 142 yards a game, without the dynamic reigning MVP Newton , the Panthers would have averaged 102 yards a game. That's good for 17th in the league in 2015. Henry is a bruiser who can give the shifty Whittaker and Stewart a breather in what will most likely be a running back by committee in Carolina this year.
Show/Hide Other Mocks with Derrick Henry Going to Panthers
Rd. 1, Pk. 30
Vernon Butler, DT/NT,
Part of the reason many mocks had the Panthers selecting Kevin Dodd was because their front office typically takes the best player available, and there wasn't an obvious spot for Kevin Dodd. It would've made sense to take Dodd here, but Vernon Butler is an even better choice. Butler could've easily been chosen a dozen picks ago. He's very athletic for a 320-pound defensive lineman and has drawn comparisons to Muhammad Wilkerson. Butler doesn't fit an obvious need right now, but the Panthers aren't concerned about that. Butler, however, figures to start in 2017 once Star Lotulelei moves on in free agency. In the meantime, Butler will add depth to an already-great front.