Round 1: Emmanuel Ogbah DE – Oklahoma St.
One week later and not too much has changed in Carolina, including their projected first round pick being Emmanuel Ogbah. The Panthers brought back veteran Charles Johnson on a team friendly one-year deal but will likely still be eager to upgrade along the defensive line with some young talent.
Ogbah parlayed a stellar Combine performance into almost a guaranteed first round selection and the only matter to still figure out is where he lands. While he could go as early as the teens due to his potential and high upside, I think come draft time the Panthers could easily find him available at pick 30 and will likely have this flashy athletic pass rushing prospect high on their radar.
Round 2: Cyrus Jones CB – Alabama
Another repeat makes its way into the third edition of the Panthers’ Mock Draft, but this time Cyrus Jones finds himself as the Panthers second round selection. With so far no new developments in the secondary via free agency and Bene Benwikere to get a shot on the outside, nickel corner remains a top priority in Carolina and Jones fits that bill.
The Alabama product already saw his stock rising post-Combine and after his recent pro day he looks to be rising further. According to multiple reports, Jones was consistent with his testing numbers and was highly impressive in individual drills with his footwork, quickness and ball skills all on display for NFL teams. His size will knock him to a mid-round pick but with such a late second round selection, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Dave Gettleman and company snap the trap on Jones here.
Round 3: Shon Coleman OT – Auburn
The Panthers biggest three needs get addressed in the first three rounds as Shon Coleman is the projected selection here in round three. Michael Oher is obviously not the long term solution at left tackle and with young players Mike Remmers and Daryl Williams set to duke it out at right tackle, Carolina could look to develop a player behind Oher to eventually take over.
Coleman is a talented player with an impressive display of power and smarts for the position and after overcoming cancer, developed into a top SEC pass blocker. Unfortunately, the Auburn left tackle tore his MCL and required surgery after the 2015 season and has to miss his school’s pro day and other crucial workouts for teams. But in Carolina, this wouldn’t be an issue as he would have time to sit and get healthy behind Oher, and could eventually give the Panthers a franchise left tackle.
Round 4: Tyvis Powell S – Ohio St.
With Roman Harper being allowed to walk, right now it looks like it’ll be Tre Boston stepping into the starting safety spot next to Kurt Coleman. But it wouldn’t hurt for Carolina to add some more secondary depth at safety and they could easily grab themselves someone like Tyvis Powell in the middle rounds to satisfy that need.
Powell shows up in big moments as is evidenced by his collegiate career and is a speedy, rangy cover man who shows a wide array of impressive ball skills. He has good size for an NFL safety (6’3”/211lbs) and would be a solid upgrade in coverage for the Panthers defense which usually plays with five defensive backs. Powell needs work with his tackling and is not the type of safety who will be taking down running backs at the line of scrimmage. But paired with Coleman, he could be a welcomed addition in the Carolina secondary at a reasonable spot in the draft.
Round 5: Charles Tapper DE – Oklahoma
Gettleman can never have too many linemen and with the draft as deep as it is at both end and tackle, he’ll most definitely be double-dipping and here that selection is Oklahoma’s Charles Tapper.
Tapper has made some waves with an incredible 4.59 forty at the Combine but overall is an extremely raw prospect. He has power and flashes an impressive bull rush from time to time and is a hard tackler. But as mentioned he is very raw as he generally has no rushing moves and doesn’t play to his strengths very often. His build (6’3”/271lbs) and speed though is enough for there to be excitement and makes him potentially a worthwhile pick late in the draft.
Round 7: DeMarcus Ayers WR – Houston
Wide receiver is not a glaring need for the Panthers by any means this offseason. They’ll be adding their number one threat back (Kelvin Benjamin) to a solid crew of second and third options (Devin Funchess, Ted Ginn Jr.) which should make this an above-average group. But you can never have too many playmakers to give Cam Newton and adding a versatile threat like Demarcus Ayers would give the Carolina offense a weapon they’ve never had before.
Ayers is a gadget-type player who just needs the ball in his hands no matter where he’s lined up. He’s shown he can be productive in the slot, out wide, in the backfield and back on kicks. With his combination of speed and quickness, Ayers can fake out defenders once he’s in the open field and then leave them in his wake on the way to the end zone. His size (5’9”) is one of the biggest knocks and although his skills are exciting, they are very raw and will need to be developed much further if he hopes to be a contributor in the NFL. In the seventh round though, Carolina would be wise to snatch up a shifty playmaker to add to the offense and Ayers would do just that.