Round 1 (Pick 25)
Gettleman has made it clear that the team will draft best player available but unless someone falls in the Draft, D.J. Humphries should be the pick. At his pre-draft press conference, the Panthers’ GM said he believes there are four or five players in this class who can play left tackle. Humphries should be included in this group.
The organization has done their homework and due diligence with Humphries by attending his Pro Day as well as bringing him in for a private visit. Humphries, who played high school football in the Charlotte area, would love an opportunity to come play for his hometown team.
Round 2 (Pick 57)
A defensive tackle in the second round may be a bit of a surprise but once again Dave Gettleman is not afraid of making these types of picks. In his first Draft with the Panthers, he used his first two picks in 2013 on defensive tackle.
Those two picks worked out great as Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short have solidified the middle of that defensive line. However, the organization should start to think about finding replacements for Colin Cole and Dwan Edwards, who are two of the oldest players on the roster. Davis is the perfect answer to this problem who can be a disruptive force in the middle.
Round 3 (Pick 89)
Pick: Za’Darius Smith, DE (Kentucky)
The Panthers stay on the defensive line in the third round and select Za’Darius Smith out of the University of Kentucky. The defense lost Greg Hardy last year but did draft Kony Ealy in the second round a season ago, who finished his rookie year very strong.
Smith should compete for playing time almost immediate and as Dave-Te Thomas notes in his scouting report should be able to contribute both in the pass rush as well as the run game from the defensive end position.
Round 4 (Pick 124)
It is almost certain that the Panthers will be drafting a running back at some point in this Draft after they released franchise leading rusher DeAngelo Williams. Jonathan Stewart is still the lead back but there isn’t much depth behind him and with his injury history this should be a concern.
Javorius “Buck” Allen is the type of running back who can make all the runs, pick up the tough yards after contact and has shown good hands while at USC, according to Thomas’ scouting report. If Stewart stays healthy all 16 games, Allen should be able to contribute catching out of the backfield and carrying the ball 5-10 times a game.
Round 5 (Pick 161)
With the first of three fifth round picks, the Panthers go ahead and stay in-state selecting Duke wide receiver Jamison Crowder. What Crowder lacks in size (5-8, 185 pounds) he makes up for in speed and explosiveness.
The team did bring back Ted Ginn Jr. this offseason however this is not necessarily a long term answer to the slot position or as a return man. This is the areas Crowder excels in and should push Ginn for one of the starting return jobs as early as this season.
Round 5 (Pick 169)
The addition of Charles Tillman gives the Panthers some flexibility in taking a chance on Nick Marshall. The former Auburn Tiger quarterback is trying to make it in the NFL as a cornerback, a position he played to start his college career at the University of Georgia.
Marshall has the physical traits to play the position but will need to go to a situation and coaching staff that is willing to be patient with him. If the Panthers are willing to develop Marshall, he could be a key contributor to this secondary in a year or two.
Round 5 (Pick 174)
Pick: Shaq Mason, C (Georgia Tech)
The Panthers are pretty well set at the starting center position with Ryan Kalil. The issue is the fact that they don’t have much depth behind him. A player like Shaquille Mason would be great value at this point in the Draft. Similar to Marshall though, the Panthers would have to show a little bit of patience as he played guard in college and doesn’t have much experience at center.
Dave-Te Thomas talked about the transition to center in his scouting report and wrote, “As for a possible shift to center in the NFL, Mason has the thick, squat frame associated with the pivot position. He plays with a wide base and has a very strong lower body. His upper body strength is above average and he possesses an explosive initial punch to knock defenders back.”
Round 6 (Pick 200)
The Panthers used their first round pick on an offensive tackle and brought in two other offensive tackles this offseason (Michael Oher and Jonathan Martin). This shouldn’t stop them from selecting a player like Gibson, who should provide even more depth at the position.
Last year, this was lacking and the team eventually turned to Mike Remmers, who they picked up off the Rams’ practice squad about halfway through the season.
Round 7 (Pick 242)
Pick: Kyshoen Jarrett, SS (Virginia Tech)
Similar to Gibson, Jarrett has been my pick for the Panthers in previous mock drafts and I see no reason for that to change. The team brought in Kurt Coleman, who can play either safety position, but don’t necessarily have a long term answer to eventually replace Roman Harper.
Jarrett is a hard hitting safety who can play up close to the line of the scrimmage. If he is given a year or two to develop, he could become the player the team is looking for to pair up with Tre Boston.