Could Panthers Go Cornerback Early in Draft?

The cornerback position is one the Carolina Panthers have tried to address this offseason. They added veteran cornerback Charles Tillman today. However, there best option may still be in the NFL Draft and the team has looked at a number of players at the position.

The Carolina Panthers have spent a lot of time on the cornerback position ahead of the NFL Draft. The team has scheduled visits or workouts with four cornerbacks and attended a Pro Days of another prospect. The quality of players in this group could indicate that the team is thinking about addressing the position earlier rather than later in the Draft, even with the recent signing of Charles Tillman.

 

Name

Scout.com Rank

Height

Weight

Connection

Trae Waynes

1

6-0

186

Workout

Quinten Rollins

2

5-11

195

Workout

Kevin Johnson

3

6-0

188

Workout

Byron Jones

6

6-1

199

Attended Pro Day

Ronald Darby

18

5-11

193

Private Visit

 

 

Trae Waynes is the clear cut number one prospect at the position as he has the size and speed to excel at cornerback. Unfortunately for the Panthers, he is the least likely of this group to still be on the board when it is their turn to draft at 25.

The team has a much better chance that at least three, if not all, of the next four on the chart are available when they are on the clock in the first round. FSU’s Ronald Darby looks to be a second round pick but may be selected before the team’s pick in that round.

The fact that the Panthers are looking at the caliber of prospect they are could be an indication they are prepared to use their first round pick on a cornerback.

The team has two promising cornerbacks at the position with the emergence of Josh Norman and Bene Benwikere a season ago. The problem is that in this era of the NFL, one that has seen offenses lean heavily on the pass, two cornerbacks is not enough.

In hopes of spreading the field, teams have started to use more three or four wide receiver sets and this means good defenses generally need at least three starting caliber cornerbacks to defend this. If the Panthers were able to add one of these players, they would have the personnel to match up with this style of offense.

It is also very clear that the front office is looking for a specific type of cornerback. All the prospects on this list are between 5-11 and 6-1 and weigh between 186 and 199. The team is looking for a big body cornerback who can matchup against the bigger wide receivers in the game. This would allow the team to move Benwikere inside to nickelback, a position he seems much better suited for.

The defense would then have the size at cornerback to match up with some of the bigger wide receivers in the division, like Tampa Bay BuccaneersMike Evans and Vincent Jackson, Atlanta FalconsJulio Jones and Roddy White and New Orleans SaintsMarques Colston.

So far this offseason, the Carolina Panthers front office has made it very difficult to get a gauge on exactly what they are thinking about doing with their first pick. They have shown interest in the top running back (Todd Gurley), the top pass rusher (Randy Gregory) in addition to a number of offensive tackles.

One reason to pin down what they are thinking is because they have been very effective in free agency addressing a number of needs. The moves made should allow GM Dave Gettleman to be fully committed to his draft philosophy of best player available. Which certainly could mean cornerback if one of these players happen to falls in the first round.


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