Not Another Mock Draft!

Just like NAPC! is not your average predictions column, NAMD! is not either. In this, I shall be reviewing five possible Out of Nowhere first round picks for Carolina. However, I am doing this with one caveat – those picks have to make at least some semblance of sense. I may be a harebrained prognosticator, but I am NOT taking Mason Crosby in the first round.

Out of Nowhere – Not Another Mock Draft!

"Out of nowhere

without a sign

never knowing what I would find

out of a dream

into my life."

Just like NAPC! is not your average predictions column, NAMD! is not either. In this, I shall be reviewing five possible Out of Nowhere first round picks for Carolina. However, I am doing this with one caveat – those picks have to make at least some semblance of sense. I may be a harebrained prognosticator, but I am NOT taking Mason Crosby in the first round.

In my opinion, there are five legit out-of-nowhere picks for Carolina in the first round, and they will be discussed in detail in five different mocks. Since I'm a nice guy, I'm also including full seven round mocks for Carolina. We will start with my fifth guy, counting down to number one. My fifth guy plays on the offensive line, and I'm talking at tackle. No, not Big Bad Levi Brown, but rather Joe Staley, the tackle from Central Michigan. He has been moving up draft charts and now most mocks have him going in the 20-25 range. In a recent mock draft I participated in, I moved down in the first and selected Staley. However, for the purposes of this mock, the point is to stay at 14th overall. Carolina is switching to a zone-blocking scheme, which would fit Joe Staley perfectly. Staley is a phenomenal athlete who would excel in that system. The pick would make sense as incumbent Travelle Wharton is coming off an ACL injury and does not fit in as an LT in a zone-blocking scheme. Here is the mock with the pick of Staley:

1. Joe Staley OT

This pick gives Carolina a very solid offensive line and a stud at left tackle that they have not had in years.

2. Eric Weddle S

Taking Weddle gives Carolina a solid safety prospect that could start this year, and takes care of the immediate need at safety.

3. Horatio Benedict Blades ILB

HB Blades is a solid inside linebacker who had a terrific career at Pittsburgh. He would fit in very well as a back up at ILB who could eventually become the starter.

4. Clark Harris TE

The last major need Carolina has in this mock is tight end, and this choice from Rutgers U is a great fit for Carolina's tight end hole.

5. Justin Hickman DE

Another choice here would be Yamon Figurs to return punts, but Carolina has a plan and decides to fill a need for depth at defensive end with this UCLA product.

6. Steve Breaston WR/RS

Breaston gives Carolina a good punt return threat and a possible third or fourth wide receiver in the mold of Dennis Northcutt, but with better hands.

7. Kareen Taylor FS

Fulfilling the desire to take a hometown player, Carolina selects former UNC standout safety Kareen Taylor, a ballhawk who repeatedly came through in the clutch.

There you have it, a near-perfect mock with the out-of-nowhere selection of Joe Staley in the first round. Now we will move on to my fourth choice, the surprise pick of Jarvis Moss, defensive end from Florida.

1. Jarvis Moss DE

Despite character issues, Carolina uses a surprise pick on a solid pass-rusher to replace the injured Mike Rucker.

2. Eric Weddle S

For the same reason as in the Staley mock, Carolina goes with Eric Weddle. Another possibility would be Sabby Piscitelli, a standout safety prospect himself.

3. HB Blades ILB

Again, another solid pick, fulfilling a need. Blades racked up 400+ tackles with Pitt.

4. Scott Chandler TE

Instead of taking Clark Harris, Carolina opts for an athletically gifted freakish tight end who is not about to block anyone, but quite ready to use his 6'7.5 inch frame to out-maneuver defensive backs and linebackers for the ball.

5. Courtney Brown CB

This intriguing, little heard of prospect is from Cal Poly, where he put up seven interceptions in his junior campaign. Expected to dominate his senior year, his INT totals dropped immensely. The reason? Teams targeted him a total of 9 times during the season. Yep, 9 times. That's how good he is. In addition, he managed to intercept two of those. Brown can also do well in run support.

6. Steve Breaston WR/RS

Still in need of a dynamic return man, Carolina looks to this young man out of Michigan to fill that spot.

7. Eddie Keele OT

Another little heard of prospect is Keele, an offensive tackle from Brigham Young University. He was a stud who gave up very few sacks and played multiple positions on the line. You have not heard of him because he tore his ACL early on in his senior campaign. However, he posted an extremely high bench press number at the combine and could be a great reserve offensive lineman in the NFL with the potential to become more. If you are not sold yet, this man also manhandled Matthias Kiwanuka.

Let us move on to my third choice, Robert Meachem, the receiver. Carolina does not have very many wide receivers right now, and of the ones they have, they need upgrades. Keary Colbert is non-existent and I expect him to not make the final roster. Keyshawn Johnson may retire, and even if he does not, he will likely play only one more year. Drew Carter is good, but is an inconsistent #3 wide out. Without further ado, here is what Carolina's draft may look like if Meachem is the selection at 14th.

1. Robert Meachem WR

This pick gives Carolina a good receiver to be the #2 behind Steve Smith in a season or two. If Keyshawn Johnson pulls a Willie Roaf during training camp and retires, Meachem would become a very wise choice. Meachem also makes Keary Colbert expendable.

2. Tanard Jackson CB/S

Jackson is a corner/safety prospect who was an in-depth scoutee by Carolina. He could fill the hole at safety and provide valuable depth at corner.

3. HB Blades ILB

Blades is my favorite linebacker in the draft, and if Carolina wants an ILB in the middle rounds, he is my guy. As such, again Carolina takes Blades here.

4. Yamon Figurs RS

Already filling the potential need at WR, Carolina takes the second-best return specialist prospect in this draft. Figurs has sub 4.3 speed in the 40-yard dash and would be a good pick.

5. Kevin Boss TE

Boss is another tight end who has great potential in the NFL. A potential third or fourth round selection, some tight ends will inevitably drop.

6. Justin Hickman DE

Again, Carolina continues its tradition of liking UCLA players and takes this defensive end for depth.

7. Brian Chacos OT

Taking a hometown player, Chacos is a former All-ACC tackle from UNC. He can play either left tackle or right tackle and is solid depth in the mold of a Todd Fordham type. His one upside over Keele is he is not recovering from a torn ACL.

Our next-to-last out-of-nowhere, but still legit, selection is cornerback Leon Hall from Michigan. Hall is the best corner in the draft, and it has been rumored he could switch to safety. Even if he does not, he would be excellent value at 14th overall and would allow Chris Gamble or Ken Lucas to be traded. In addition, the pick of Hall would allow Carolina to let Chris Gamble walk when his current rookie contract expires. Another offshoot of picking Hall would be that Carolina would have the deepest set of corners in the NFL. He is my second choice for an out-of-nowhere first round pick, and here's what I'd do in the rest of the draft were Carolina to start off that way:

1. Leon Hall CB

Surprising the pundits, Carolina selects this corner from Michigan to nail down any holes in the secondary. New secondary coach Tim Lewis may want to bring someone in, and Hall is the best ‘someone' to bring in. Hall also has the versatility to switch to safety if needed.

2. Anthony Gonzalez WR

Another shocker would be Anthony Gonzalez from the Ohio State University. Gonzalez is a great possession receiver with 4.3 speed. He compares to Wes Welker in the NFL and could be a remarkable #2 wideout. He also could return punts if needed.

3. Justin Durant ILB

Just to break up the monotony of the third round, I'll have Carolina take Darian Durant's younger brother, a stud linebacker from Hampton who perhaps fits the cover two scheme a little better than the base 4-3, but would still be valuable depth.

4. John Wendling S

Needing a safety in case Hall does not switch over, Carolina takes Wendling. Wendling is very talented and could become a third round pick, but safeties drop every year. He is a freakishly fast athlete and has pure talent written all over him. Next to Mike Minter or Deke Cooper, he would fit in well.

5. Clark Harris TE

Again, Carolina takes the tight end from Rutgers to fill that need. Harris is a good prospect who is a decent blocker and receiver. He is versatile and would be a good fit alongside of Jeff King or Michael Gaines.

6. Justin Hickman DE

I know, I have a one-track mind when it comes to defensive end, but if Carolina doesn't acquire an extra second or third round pick, I can't see taking end before the fourth round unless someone drops. Hickman IS a solid prospect though, and would be good depth.

7. Geoff Pope CB/PR

Pope is a blazing fast corner taken to assist in the return game. A person I know recently turned me on to him as a possible return threat, and I would have to say I agree. This pick rounds out what seems to me to be a VERY solid draft, one I would not mind seeing come April 28th.

And here we go, the moment you've all been waiting for, my NUMBER ONE out-of-left field pick at 14th overall, outside linebacker from Florida State, Lawrence Timmons. Carolina has scouted Timmons intensely, raising the eyebrows of some in the media, as OLB is not considered a huge need for the Panthers. Carolina says to heck with it, and takes this star player anyway to solidify what has been a corps on the downside the past few seasons.

1. Lawrence Timmons OLB

Timmons was a star at FSU and gives Carolina a pair of extremely athletic OLBs in Thomas Davis and himself. Recently re-signed Na'il Diggs would either split time with Timmons or be relegated to a back-up role anyway, as he was disappointing last year.

2. Eric Weddle S

Weddle again fills the need at safety and becomes a possible Day One starter opposite Deke Cooper or Mike Minter.

3. Victor Abiamiri DE

I know what I said, but in the case of a Timmons selection, I would not take another LB in the first three picks. Here I would take this defense end from Notre Dame. Personally, I am not a huge Irish fan, but Abiamiri IS a good prospect and I would not be disappointed with this selection.

4. Dallas Baker WR

Member of the national champion Florida Gators football team, Baker is a good possession receiver who could fit in well in Carolina. Another possibility here is Courtney Taylor, WR, from Auburn.

5. Kevin Boss TE

In need of a tight end, Carolina seeks help from the Boss, and gets it. Mr. Boss is ready to come in and play, and only needs the opportunity.

6. Jon Abbate ILB

It seems clear that Carolina does not consider ILB the big need many think it is, and Abbate is very similar to HB Blades, but without as much upside. Abbate gives Carolina good depth, and it is a possibility that Timmons could move to the inside if desperate. Abbate also plays with incredibly intense heart, and my avid readers will remember that in Pandora's Box I criticized the Panthers' apparent lack of heart in this past season.

7. Steve Breaston WR/RS

Hey, I am allowed to stretch things a little, and it's conceivable for Breaston to drop this far. Breaston is considered a late-round pick who may go undrafted anyway. This draft fills every need for Carolina.

I'll wrap this article up with my personal selection of what I feel the best overall mock is out of these five, and that is either the fourth or the fifth mock. I like the way they allow Carolina to improve in different areas and also give enough depth at other spots. If asked to choose between the two, I'd probably choose the fifth, simply because Eric Weddle and Lawrence Timmons may have more of an overall impact than Leon Hall and Anthony Gonzalez would. Either way, I would be fine with either one.

Please note that these mocks were intended as ideas of what the draft may look like if Carolina takes a surprise in the first round instead of the expected Reggie Nelson or Greg Olsen.

And if you're wondering who sang that song I referenced at the beginning, it is a song called Out of Nowhere by Gloria Estafan.

I'd like to end with a rhetorical question: Now that I've written an article about out of left field picks, are these guys still qualified as out of left field picks?

~Robert "RingLeader" Gilbert~

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