There is certainly a lot that can change between now and then as players will have a chance to affect their draft status, both positively and negatively, at the NFL Combine and Pro Days. Over the next couple of months, we will be putting out mock drafts trying to predict who the Carolina Panthers may be picking in April. However, be sure to sign up to become an insider with PantherInsider.com and the Scout Network as all future mock drafts here will be for members only!
With the help of CBSSports.com’s projected rounds for prospects, these are the players the Panthers could draft with their first three picks.
Pick: La’el Collins, LT, LSU
At the early stages of the NFL Draft season, it seems the Panthers have a lot of interest in the left tackle from LSU. Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review reported that Collins said that former teammate and current Panther Trai Turner had told him coaches had asked a lot about the tackle.
This makes perfect sense for Carolina with Byron Bell being a free agent and there really being no options in free agents that look to be starter material. CBS Sports ranked Collins as the fourth best offensive tackle and the 14th overall prospect in this year’s draft. There is certainly a chance that Collins may be gone by the time he is on the clock. However if he is there at 25 when it is the Panthers turn, he should be the pick.
This pick is made with the assumption that DeAngelo Williams will not be a Carolina Panther in 2015. He is one of the best players in franchise history however he has a lot working against him this offseason with him getting up there in age, a substantial salary and lack of production in 2014.
If the Panthers do decide to release Williams, Coleman would be a perfect fit in the backfield with Jonathan Stewart. The prospect from Indiana ran for 2,036 yards and 15 touchdowns and did this on an offense with no other real weapons around him. Opposing defenses were focused on stopping Coleman and he continued to produce. Dane Bugler of NFLDraftScout.com describes Coleman as a mix between “Darren McFadden and DeMarco Murray”.
If the Panthers were able to get a player like Jamison Crowder in the third round, they should be running to the podium with this pick. The wide receiver out of Duke would address two huge needs the Panthers had from a season ago.
The first is the lack of speed at the wide receiver position outside of an inconsistent Philly Brown. The addition of Crowder in the slot would give the Panthers a big play threat with Kelvin Benjamin on the outside and Greg Olsen working the middle of the field. Crowder’s biggest impact, especially his rookie year, may come as the team’s returner. The Panthers struggled on special teams with Brenton Bersin returning kicks last year. The quickness and agility of Crowder would really help the Panthers get favorable field position.