Round 1: Mackensie Alexander CB – Clemson
While the previously mocked Emmanuel Ogbah may very well be the pick here in the first for the Panthers, we’re mixing it up this time around and going with a player that Carolina recently worked out and could certainly use in Mackensie Alexander.
The Clemson corner’s biggest knocks are for size and how little statistical production he has to his name, which happens when you essentially lock down one side of the field as he did last season. Alexander plays up to his competition and will battle it out with the best of them with tight lockdown coverage skills. He may experience early struggles adjusting to NFL receivers and could be long gone before the 30th pick, but if he is available, he’d be a steal.
Round 2: Shilique Calhoun DE – Michigan St.
The Panthers should absolutely spend a first or second round selection on a defensive end to groom and develop behind Charles Johnson in the coming year and a player who could use that time and wind up a stud is Michigan State’s Shilique Calhoun.
Calhoun is a big, long athletic force on the outside that has the speed and fluidity to make him an above average pass rushing prospect. He has the stats and resume that back up his play too as a three-year starter and two-time captain who racked up 26.5 sacks and 128 pressures in those three seasons. He tends to play inconsistently though, lacking speed and strength at crucial times. If he can correct those issues, as he would have time to do in Carolina, he would be a solid addition for the Panthers early on.
Round 3: Cyrus Jones CB – Alabama
This pick, or player rather, might never change. Cyrus Jones is exactly the kind of player that the Panthers would love to have and he fills arguably the most glaring hole on the roster as a nickel corner.
Jones may be small but he isn’t afraid to duke it out with the best of them. He’s quick and covers solid ground in the slot to set himself up to make plays. He’s a hard worker who with the right coaching, as the Panthers have, could wind up a valuable asset on that defense.
Round 4: Joe Haeg OT – North Dakota St.
Joe Haeg is another repeat from last week although this time around he gets a bump up to the fourth round.
Haeg is an athletic tackle who has a solid set of skills to work with. He shows nice agility and quickness against speed rushers and uses his length solidly to that degree as well. While he’s somewhat of a project, the Panthers wouldn’t need him right away and could let him develop his already promising talent into their future at left tackle.
Round 5: Javon Hargrave DT – South Carolina St.
The Panthers have already added one backup option to the defensive tackle position but that likely won’t stop Dave Gettleman from adding as many of his beloved “hog mollies” as he can in this one meaning a pick like Javon Hargrave makes sense here.
Hargrave is a quick, athletic pass rusher on the interior. He uses his strength and high motor to make plays and bully his way to the quarterback. Hargrave dominated his competition, albeit in the FCS and although he’s raw and may need time to adjust to a much higher level of play, he looks to be well worth a mid to late round pick.
Round 7: K.J. Maye WR – Minnesota
Wide receiver is not a glaring, pressing or even small need for Carolina. While some think they could benefit from spending another early pick on a wideout, and while it certainly couldn’t hurt, they’d be better suited to go that direction in the late rounds with a player like K.J. Maye.
The Minnesota product is a top sleeper receiver in this draft who isn’t getting much attention at all. He’s a workhorse who despite his small size (5’8”) plays big and makes plays. He has elite quickness which helps him break in his routes, particularly from the slot, and will go up and fight for the ball. His size being the only real knock, Maye would be an absolute steal for the Panthers.