Round 1: Derrick Henry RB – Alabama
What once seemed like a surprising selection for the Panthers now looks like a very legitimate option and one that looks likelier by the day. And that said selection is of Alabama running back Derrick Henry to Carolina at 30.
Henry is a physical monster. He’s go incredible size (6’3”/250lbs) for a running back and plays with the kind of power that comes with it. Surprisingly though he has just as good top speed with his 4.54 forty time that only further proved how insane of a talent he is. There are question of whether or not he can convert to the NFL and his draft projection is somewhat in flux, but with Jonathan Stewart aging and a chance to pair Henry with Cam Newton in the backfield, this may be too enticing of a move to pass on.
Round 2: Shilique Calhoun DE – Michigan St.
For the second week we’ve slated Shilique Calhoun to the Panthers in round two and, to me, it looks to be another pick that could wind up being a guarantee come draft day and the need for a defensive end prospect.
Calhoun is a long, lengthy athlete with production and leadership filling his resume and proving he has natural skill as a pass rusher. While he may lack some consistency with his skills, something that cannot happen in the NFL, Calhoun looks to be a top second round selection that Carolina could very easily wish to trade up for.
Round 3: Kendall Fuller CB – Virginia Tech
Even with Brandon Boykin signing with the team, the Panthers could still use some added cornerback depth to fill holes or step in should injury or inadequacy occur midseason, and Kendall Fuller looks like a solid candidate for that role in the third.
Fuller was hyped to be one of the top corners once he entered the draft early in his career but injuries have derailed that hope and now he finds himself in the second tier of players at the position. His quickness and coverage abilities that were on display early on in college are extremely enticing however and if he winds up slipping to the middle round, any team who snatches Fuller up would likely be getting a steal.
Round 4: Tyvis Powell S – Ohio St.
While they have Tre Boston slotted in at strong safety and Trenton Robinson in the fold as well, the Panthers should still look to secure another young safety prospect in a draft that is loaded with big, long, rangy athletes at the position like Tyvis Powell.
Powel has good height for a safety (6’3”) and possesses excellent ball skills that accompany his rang coverage abilities and his knack for showing up in big moments. The Panthers have lacked consistency in their pass coverage at safety and Powell would be an upgrade in that regard and a solid addition to work with in the middle rounds of the draft.
Round 5: Sheldon Day DT – Notre Dame
Dave Gettleman loves his trench residing “hog mollies” and in a draft deep at defensive tackle, and area of need for the Panthers behind their starting crew, expect him to grab one sometime during the draft and it may end up being Sheldon Day.
Day is a versatile defensive lineman which certainly suits a team like Carolina and has impressive quickness off the ball. He’s somewhat small and bulky but has decent athleticism to accompany that and can shed blocks in a hurry with his unique skillset. Day’s size is his biggest knock to this point as he can become easily erased or overwhelmed by double teams but he makes plays and his abilities will find him a place somewhere in the middle rounds and make him someone the Panthers should definitely keep an eye on.
Round 7: Brandon Shell OT – South Carolina
At this point in our mock, the offensive tackle need has yet to be addressed and if they make it this far without drafting one they may wind up passing all together. But one interesting prospect that they’ve had their eyes on and who has Carolina ties is Brandon Shell.
Shell is a raw prospect, but he has a resume that includes starting experience at both tackle spots and a relation to the famous Art Shell. He’s got the attributes of a starting NFL tackle but just doesn’t seem to connect those with the proper technique and skill much of the time. Fortunately for him though, his body type alone should get him drafted and if he has time to develop, as he would in Carolina, he could wind up being a solid left tackle and a seventh round steal.