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Rough Draft: Carolina Panthers

It's not likely that Florida State University cornerback Xavier Rhodes will still be on the board when the Carolina Panthers pick at 14th overall.

It’s not likely that Florida State University cornerback Xavier Rhodes will still be on the board when the Carolina Panthers pick at 14th overall.

Everyone agrees: the Carolina Panthers’ most pressing needs are secondary and defensive tackle.

However, secondary far outpaces defensive tackle as an immediate need. Carolina already has two nice defensive ends, serviceable Dwan Edwards at tackle, and two Pro Bowlers and the 2012 Defensive Rookie of the Year filling out the linebacking corps. Unfortunately, they will be competing with plenty of other teams for secondary help in this pass-happy league.

Carolina only owns five picks in the 2013 NFL draft, so that means they will need to do their homework and be near perfect in their selections.

Early going

It’s highly unlikely that cornerback Xavier Rhodes (Florida State) will still be on the board at pick 14. Either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will snatch him at 13th overall (assuming they don’t finalize a trade for New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, which would likely cost them that pick), or the Jets will grab him. If Rhodes is somehow still there, he is the no-brainer for general manager Dave Gettleman.

Otherwise, he should do what most experts have projected: take Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson.

The wild card in this scenario might be Tennessee wide reciever Cordarrelle Patterson. Picking him would take some true gumption on the part of Gettleman, who has taken strides in free agency to bolster the receiving corps by bringing in Ted Ginn, Jr. and Domenik Hixon.

On the other hand, Gettleman came from the New York Giants, a team that seems to scout and produce very productive receivers at will. The Panthers currently have no one with a chance to take over the top receiver position when Steve Smith, who turns 34 next month, retires or slows down. Patterson has the skills, size, and moxie to be just that. His drawback is that he is unpolished, but that flaw is easily fixed with coaching. Moreover, he could learn much under the tutelage of Smitty, who had to perfect his route running, timing, and technique to compensate for his size disadvantage.

Midway

The next round will be the “Jo(h)n(a)than” Round. If the Panthers luck into Rhodes, their best option is Johnathan Hankins, defensive tackle from Ohio State. If they end up with anyone else they have to favor Mississippi State senior cornerback Johnthan Banks or strong safety Jonathan Cyprien (Florida International), enabling Charles Godfrey to return to the free safety spot, where he excelled in 2010.

Fifty-four picks later, strong safety J.J. Wilcox (Georgia Southern) and free safeties D.J. Swearinger (South Carolina) and T.J. McDonald (Southern California) could all remain on the board. However, I believe Carolina will look instead to the less highly touted Josh Evans (Florida), who is more physical without the troubling grabbing and pushing issues that invite penalties.

Gettleman would also score points with fans by drafting a replacement for free safety Haruki Nakamura, who has had a couple of very disappointing seasons, got famously burned by, well, everyone last year, and yet was shockingly retained in the offseason.

Late game

The last two picks will most certainly be of the “best player available” variety, populated by Louisiana State defensive tackle Bennie Logan, Georgia cornerback Sanders Commings, or Miami free safety Ray Ray Armstrong, who is flying under the radar after having been ineligible to play for the 2012 season.

Don’t discount the possibility that Carolina will call up Florida interior linebacker Jon Bostic in the fifth round, since both Thomas Davis and Jon Beason have had major injuries over the past three years.

Lastly, don’t be surprised if the Panthers trade away running back Jonathan Stewart (wow, is Jo(h)n(a)than really that popular of a name?) at some point on Day 2. They need more picks, and they restructured his contract to make it movable.

499 comments
Buhlitz
Buhlitz

its amazing how much Stafford has regressed since 2011.

redzonejones
redzonejones

any starters playing in any games that just started

Cam Of Steel
Cam Of Steel

That's the best the panthers have looked on offense....most of the second strings vs the steelers 2nd strings...moved the ball pretty well...

Buhlitz
Buhlitz

Stafford really shouldn't be our starting QB. Hill has looked like an elite QB the entire preseason. Stafford has looked like Sanchez (minus the buttfumbles)

Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

Lions are killin 'em. PRESEASON BABY!!!!

lol

Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

@Buhlitz These are plays that they are not used to. 

Different receivers in different slots. I'm not worried.

natesweet
natesweet moderator

@EvilDonkey-R.H.I.T. Not all the Lions. Stafford was blowing chunks profusely all over the field. Hill is killing it out there. 4/5 passing with 2 TD's

natesweet
natesweet moderator

@EvilDonkey-R.H.I.T. @Buhlitz Last regular season was still quite the regression from 2011. I'm not expecting him to look as bad as he has in the preseason but I am not close to expecting him to be like he was in 2011. I am kind of expecting him to look how he did last season.

Buhlitz
Buhlitz

@Natesweet @EvilDonkey-R.H.I.T. @Buhlitz 

the previous two preseasons (2011,2012) he had QBRs well over 100. This year his numbers are just terrible.

I'm worried. I don't care that its your 4th string receiver, they are wide open and he continues to overthrow the ball every time.

natesweet
natesweet moderator

@EvilDonkey-R.H.I.T. @Natesweet @Buhlitz I think it might be a slightly greater injury risk as well as slightly greater chance of a defender interfering with his motion.  Having the arm out to the side of your body any more than it needs to be should be avoided I think. Just seems overhand motion is more desirable for that reason.