Panthers 7-Round Mock Draft: Pre-Free Agency

One of the biggest things that can affect a team's draft strategy is what happens in free agency, which starts March 10. If the NFL Draft took place before free agency and that wasn't taken into account, this is what I believe the Panthers would do in the NFL Draft.

Round 1

Pick: T.J. Clemmings, OT (Pittsburgh)

Last Mock Draft Selection: Ereck Flowers, OT (Miami)

T.J. Clemmings is an interesting prospect. After switching from defensive end, he played only two years at right tackle at the collegiate level. He is certainly very raw in that regards but the case could be made that he has the most potential.

Due to the fact that he doesn't have a ton of experience at offensive tackle, he put together lackluster performances at the Senior Bowl and the Scouting Combine. Clemmings floor in the NFL is as a very good right tackle but his ceiling is as a premier left tackle in time.

In the last mock draft, I selected Ereck Flowers and the switch to Clemmings is due in large part to the fact that I don’t believe Flowers will be available when the Panthers are on the clock at pick 25.


Round 2

Pick: Xavier Cooper, DT (Washington)

Last Mock Draft Selection: Tevin Coleman, RB (Indiana)

Even though the Carolina Panthers re-signed Colin Cole and even though they drafted two defensive tackles only two years ago (Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short), this pick could fit into GM Dave Gettleman’s thought process of Best Player Available.

Defensive tackle Xavier Cooper had an excellent Scouting Combine and certainly helped his draft stock with a 4.86 40-yard dash and a 7.23 3-cone drill.’s Lance Zierlein wrote in his scouting report “his ability to win with his hands and be a disruptive pass rusher could offer him immediate value as a rotational defensive tackle with a shot to become a starter.”

The Panthers two starters at defensive tackle are young however Cole is 35 and if the team brings back Dwan Edwards, he is 34. They could afford to get younger at the position and a pass rusher like Cooper could be the right fit.


Round 3

Pick: Tyler Lockett, WR (KSU)

Last Mock Draft Selection: Jamison Crowder, WR (Duke)

This may be wishful thinking on my part but if Tyler Lockett is available when the Panthers are on the clock in the third round, I would think they would be running to the podium with this pick. Lockett impressed at the Combine and was a top performer in the 40-yard dash (4.40 sec), 20-yard shuttle (4.07 sec) and 60-yard shuttle (11.14 sec). The performance at the Combine to go along with the amount of production at Kansas State makes Lockett a very intriguing prospect and one who looks to have a bright future in the NFL.

Similar to Crowder, Lockett could help the Panthers both out of the slot and as a return man. However, Lockett had better numbers at the Combine and is a bigger body compared to Crowder. This is why Lockett is the pick here over Crowder.


Round 4

Pick: Javorius “Buck” Allen, RB (USC)

Last Mock Draft Selection: Austin Sheperd, OT (Alabama)

Now that DeAngelo Williams won’t be a member of the 2015 Carolina Panthers, the front office is in the market to find a running back to pair with Jonathan Stewart. The team finds that man in the fourth round with the selection of Buck Allen out of USC.

Allen was a workhorse for the USC Trojans last year with over 300 touches (276 rushing attempts and 41 receptions). More important than that he produced with those touches averaging over 5 yards a carry and over 11 yards per reception.


Round 5

Pick: Clayton Geathers, SS (UCF)

Last Mock Draft Selection: Jordan Hicks, OLB (Texas)

The Carolina Panthers found one half of their future safety tandem with the emergence of Tre Boston last season. He was paired up with veteran Roman Harper who unfortunately is getting up there in age and the question is how much does he have left in his career? The Panthers get his replacement here with the selection of Clayton Geathers.

Geathers put together a solid Combine and was a top performer at the safety position in Bench Press and Vertical Jump. However as Lance Zierlein writes in his scouting report, and I agree, he needs a “year or two of seasoning and development.” There may not be a better teacher in the NFL than Roman Harper who can help Geathers develop to take over the starting spot when Harper decides to call it a career.


Round 6

Pick: Alani Fua, OLB (BYU)

Last Mock Draft Selection: Damian Swann, CB (Georgia)

The Panthers love players who can get after the quarterback and that is exactly what Alani Fua can do from the outside linebacker position. In his last two seasons with BYU he totaled seven sacks but still has room to grow as a pass rusher. At 6’5” and 238 pounds, he could help this defense as a situational rusher and on special teams while he develops and learns the position.


Round 7

Pick: Damian Swann, CB (Georgia)

Last Mock Draft Selection: Shaquille Riddick, DE (West Virginia)

I had the Panthers taking Swann in the sixth round in my last mock draft but he is a player I think the Panthers can wait a round on and get much better value. In the last mock draft I wrote about Swann:

The 6’0”, 180 pound cornerback could be a solid fit at nickelback for the Panthers if they decide to keep Benwikere on the outside permanently in 2015.

If Swann is not able to stick as a cornerback for the Panthers, at the very least he would be a welcomed addition to the special team’s unit. Brugler wrote, “Experienced on special teams coverages, including time as a punt returner (averaged 4.6 yards per return at Georgia). Plays with a menacing motor and high-tempo effort after kickoff.”

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