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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.