Round 1: Emmanuel Ogbah DE – Oklahoma St.
Considering the Panthers are now without veteran Jared Allen and longtime Panthers defensive star Charles Johnson who was just released, a defensive end to start opposite Kony Ealy will be needed and late in the first Emmanuel Ogbah may be the perfect choice.
Ogbah is a powerful and athletic pass rusher who has shown flashes of brilliance around the edge while also contributing against the run game. His combine numbers proved his athleticism as he saw his stock rise after running a 4.63 forty-yard dash and 4.5 shuttle time. He has proven himself to be a top tier pass rushing talent throughout his collegiate career at Oklahoma State and despite his inconsistencies and occasional laziness, Ogbah is a surefire first round talent at defensive end that would fit right in in Carolina.
Round 2: T.J. Green S – Clemson
The first edition of the Panthers Mock Draft saw a Clemson safety being taken in round one. Instead, one will be slotted to Carolina in round two; although this time around it’ll be the other Tigers’ safety in T.J. Green. With Jayron Kearse getting much of the early attention in draft circles, Green has quietly risen up draft boards everywhere and is now widely recognized as one of this class’ underrated defensive talents.
The Clemson product has great size for a safety in today’s NFL (6’2”/209lbs) and combines that with exciting speed which makes him both a blitzing fiend as well as a more than adequate coverage safety. He has just one year of starting experience and misses far too many tackles but with the right work and improvement, Green could become quite a threat at the back end of the Carolina defense.
Round 3: Cyrus Jones CB – Alabama
One of Carolina’s more discrete needs is for a nickel cornerback to play the slot with Josh Norman and Bene Benwikere likely to man the outside. And arguably the top player in the slot in this year’s draft, Cyrus Jones, may fall perfectly into the Panthers’ lap in the third.
As mentioned in the Combine Preview, Jones is a small but quick coverage cornerback who plays with a toughness and fearlessness to go up against anybody; a nice attitude to have heading into the NFL. And while the Alabama corner’s tight coverage can occasionally hamper his play against the run and lead him into trouble, his work ethic and potential should make him an instant target for Carolina to go after in order to secure a quality player at a position of need.
Round 4: Carl Nassib DE – Penn St.
With defensive line, and its depth in particular, now a huge need on the Panthers’ roster, don’t be surprised to see Dave Gettleman go after another to develop in the later round. And Penn State’s Carl Nassib could be an exciting project player to add in the middle rounds.
Nassib is an absolute workhorse with incredible size for the defensive end position (6’7”/277lbs) who truly earned the incredible final season he had. He’s smart and relentless, with solid burst around the edge and can use his hands and length to his advantage. His downside his is lack of overall athleticism and quickness and how he occasionally can get beaten down by powerful blockers leaving some major questions for his NFL future. Nassib’s upside though may mean he won’t be available in the fourth but there is a chance he is and one would have to think the Panthers would be quick to snatch him up if he is.
Round 5: Kyle Murphy OT – Stanford
Another player mentioned in the Combine Preview, Kyle Murphy would be a great selection to make in the middle rounds of this draft for Carolina to develop and turn into an eventual longtime starter on the offensive line.
Murphy is a natural at the tackle position with the awareness and feel to get into the correct spots and combine a strong punch with good patience. His transition from right to left tackle and the visual improvement of his pass protection is evidence of his potential to develop and makes him an intriguing prospect for the Panthers to look at on the second day of the draft.
Round 7: Byron Marshall RB/WR – Oregon
For the second time, Byron Marshall out of Oregon gets mocked to the Panthers here as the need for a player like him and his likely late round value make it a solid match between the player and the team.
Marshall’s abilities scream gadget player who will need to touch the ball in any way possible whether it’s out of the backfield or in the slot. His playmaking ability is enticing and his speed and quickness make him a valuable prospect that could easily be turned into a true weapon that would make this versatile Panthers’ offense even more dangerous.