PantherInsider Draft Blog

UPDATED: 8:00pm 4/17 -- The latest on the Carolina Panthers and the 2008 NFL draft. Find out what NFL Network's Mike Mayock said about the Panthers and Matt Ryan, plus who Chris Steuber has the Panthers taking and who is on the board in his latest mock draft.

8:00 pm 4/17

Scout.com's Chris Steuber has the Panthers taking Derrick Harvey with the #13 pick in his latest mock draft.

Still on the board is Vandy's Chris Williams and Pitt's Jeff Otah. I think the Panthers would be hard pressed to pass up either of them for Harvey.

It's not that Harvey isn't a great athlete -- but that they already have Tyler Brayton, Stanley McClover and Charles Johnson competing to be the DE that lines up opposite of Juluis Peppers. Will the Panthers give up on Johnson so soon? I don't think so.

3:30 pm 4/17

Mike Mayock of NFL Network held a conference call today and spoke about a number of things. Of importance to us in Panther land was the idea of where he sees the team going and how special he thinks Matt Ryan is.

A reporter asked if he thought the Panthers would trade up to get Ryan, specifically with New England.

"That would be where they'd have to go," Said Mayock. "He's not going to get past Baltimore. We all know Bill Belichick's drafting history, he'd probably love to move down."

"So the answer is Matt Ryan would make a lot of sense in Carolina if they're willing to pay the price to move up. Carolina has some very pressing immediate needs, you know. You're talking about offensive tackles, you're talking about running backs, that defensive line, I think they generated 23 total sacks last year which was next to last in the League."

"So the question is, for Marty Hurney and that organization, does the possibility of getting a franchise quarterback this year outweigh the more pressing needs we have of getting some everyday players right now. And, you know, that's an organizational call that I can't make."

The reporter pressed on, asking if he though it made sense to trade up to get Ryan.

"I'm a big believer in the franchise quarterback," said Mayock. "I think most people -- to answer your question, yes. To me, it makes sense because if you get a chance to get a kid that can play eight to ten years at what could be a Pro Bowl level, if Peyton Manning was out there, you'd say, yeah, heck yeah. And I think this kid, because of his intangibles, is that kind of a quarterback. "

Earlier in the call, Mayock spoke a bit about how highly he regards Matt Ryan.

"I told everybody for about a year now and I think it solidifies it (Ryan being the top Quarterback), could he go in my mind anywhere from 1 to 8 and the logical place, if it's not Miami, I think Atlanta is the most logical place at 3," said Mayock. "Kansas City has looked at him heavily at 5, the Jets at 6, worst-case scenario, which could be the best case for Matt ironically, to be are the Baltimore Ravens at 8. I don't think he gets that with the Ravens. I think they're closer to being a good team and they've invested some high level Draft picks the last couple years in their offensive line."

"Knowing Matt pretty well, what he brings to the table, I'd love to see him go to Baltimore."

The reporter asked why he'd love to see Ryan go to Baltimore.

"Well, he's the kind of kid, and people don't -- I don't throw this name out there lightly, but he reminds me from an emotional toughness mindset of Peyton Manning," Mayock said. "And when Peyton Manning came out of Tennessee, I had done seven or eight of his games for CBS, I watched tape with Peyton Manning, I knew how tough he was emotionally. Matt is the same kid. If he gets beaten up a little bit as a rookie, it's just going to make him better. Peyton Manning went 3-13 as a rookie and 13-3 his second year. I think Matt is the kind of kid that can take a beating, learn from it and continue to move on."

"Having said all of those things, Baltimore is a better football team and had a down year last year. I think they're closer to being good. Their defense isn't bad, although dazing a little bit. And he's got a chance to grow with a team that's going to be pretty good in three or four years."

One reporter asked how Ryan went from virtually nobody to a top pick in the 2008 draft.

"Well, you know what, I kind of -- I look at that, and I'll give you a couple points," said Mayock. "Number one is when I watched tape last July of the top quarterbacks in the country, it wasn't even close. Matt was the best senior quarterback. Everybody who talked about Brian Brohm in my opinion, it wasn't even close"

"So I knew what the kid was and part of the reason that he didn't have a bigger name nationally or with the National Football League is that he played, as you know, his entire junior year with a broken foot which Boston College kept quiet."

"And, you know, he's a different kid as a senior with an ability to move around, slide in the pocket and make plays."

"Then, secondly, the year before that, they had started Quentin Porter ahead of him when I think they were doing that to show some allegiance for a kid that stayed for a fifth year. Then they replaced Matt half way through that year. "

"So I think there are a couple reasons why he wasn't on the national radar. But as I said earlier, sooner or later you find the right level. The NFL gets involved, starts studying all this tape, and Matt is clearly the best quarterback. "

Sound off in our forums.

11:00 am 4/17

Brad Thomas
PantherInsider.com

The Ravens have announced that Steve McNair is retiring, meaning that the likelihood that Matt Ryan could slip to #13 has gone from slim to none.

Is this a coincidence that only a day after Ryan visited the Ravens that McNair decided to announce his retirement?

If the Panthers REALLY want to get Ryan, they'll have to trade up to do so, without a shadow of a doubt.

9:45am 4/17
Brad Thomas
PantherInsider.com

Clark Judge from CBS Sportsline has chimed in with his view of the Panthers draft, stating that the team should take Derrick Harvey with their #13 overall pick to inject some energy into the defensive line.

" It's not just that Harvey is a marvelous pass rusher; it's that he could give this club what wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett could not a year ago -- a shot of adrenaline at a needy position."

I'm not sure I understand the comparison of Jarrett to Harvey. Jarrett was a BPA pick in the second round, Harvey would be a first round pick. Many people thought Jarrett should have stayed in school, including former Panther and USC Trojan Keyshawn Johnson. The Panthers drafted Jarrett based on his potential, seeing as he was one of the youngest players ever drafted.

SportingNews has the Panthers taking Harvey at #13 in their latest mock, and John Fox stated that he thought that Harvey would be gone by #13 in a recent interview. Is Harvey the guy if they stay at #13? Will he be there? Sound off in our forums.

10:00 pm 4/16
Brad Thomas
PantherInsider.com

The Hashmarks blog on ESPN posted something interesting regarding the Denver Broncos this evening, speculating that the Broncos are targeting RB Jonathan Stewart with the #12 pick -- click here.

If that is the case, who falls to #13?

Are you concerned about Steward going one spot ahead of the Panthers? Sound off in our forums - CLICK HERE.

8:00pm 4/16

War-Room Rumblings
By Rob Rang
Senior Analyst
NFLDraftScout.com

With the time between first-round picks cut from 15 to 10 minutes, many teams will look to work out potential deals before the draft even begins. With this draft class lacking an established top prospect, the combination has led to unprecedented pre-draft rumblings and smoke-screens by team decision-makers.

Among the interesting war-room rumblings with more than a week remaining until the draft:

--While insiders maintain the Dolphins have Jake Long as the highest-rated prospect in the draft, their grade on the All-American offensive tackle is only slightly higher than that of pass rushers Vernon Gholston and Chris Long. The Dolphins are so torn as to whom to select, they're essentially auctioning off the pick -- for the lowest contract.

Insiders tell me the initial offer sent to Jake Long's representatives was $10-15 million less than what the first and second picks of last year's draft (Oakland quarterback JaMarcus Russell and Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson) stand to earn with their rookie deals. Should one of the three be willing to sign for a significantly lower sum, the Dolphins could find themselves drafting a player who they don't necessarily have ranked at the top of their board.

--Several teams in the top 10 are looking to make a trade, but none more so than New England. Owners of the seventh overall pick due to their trade during last year's draft with the San Francisco 49ers, the Patriots aren't opposed to the idea of moving up to secure a unique pass rusher like Vernon Gholston. They may look to swing a deal with Kansas City at No. 5 to leapfrog ahead of the rival Jets.

A significant trade-down possibility also looms, as there is a lot of smoke coming out Dallas that Jerry Jones is willing to package his two first-round picks to move into the top 10. So who would the Cowboys be packaging the picks for -- since running back Darren McFadden is considered a lock to be among the first six players drafted? Sources wouldn't specify, but the Cowboys are thought to be quite high on the versatility of Troy cornerback Leodis McKelvin and Michigan state wide receiver Devin Thomas, prospects who also happen to be two of the elite kick returners in this draft.

--The team most likely to jump back into the late first round would appear to be the Atlanta Falcons. Thought to be considering Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan with the third overall pick, the Falcons are more likely to address their needs at quarterback with one of their three second-round picks. With Miami reportedly considering taking Chad Henne with the first pick of the second round, the Falcons may elect to jump ahead of the Dolphins to secure the strong-armed passer's services. If trading up, the San Diego Chargers, owners of one pick before the fifth round -- the 28th overall -- may be willing to trade out of the first round to add extra selections.

--If the Falcons draft someone other than Ryan with the third pick, could it spark an Aaron Rodgers/Brady Quinn-like drop down the board for the BC passer? Some teams seem to think so. Three general managers mentioned Ryan as the likeliest "surprise faller" of 2008's first round. "He's a good player," one GM told me, "I'm just not sure he's a great player. Some of the teams we thought would jump all over him now we're hearing may not." Despite the hype, Ryan hasn't been a legitimate candidate for the first overall pick for weeks and may be growing out of favor in the Atlanta and Kansas City front offices, as well. Some suggest Baltimore, with the eighth pick, is the earliest Ryan may now go.

--One player who appears well on his way toward recovering his once falling stock is Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart. In visiting with several teams over the past two weeks, Stewart is reassuring clubs that his turf toe injury is healing as expected. Speculated by some as falling out of the first round, Stewart is now a possibility to make the top 15, and could leap back ahead of Illinois' Rashard Mendenhall as the second running back selected.

Meanwhile, LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey continues to be a hot topic because of lingering concerns about a 2006 stress fracture in his leg. Dorsey skipped the medical re-check in Indianapolis in early April, but one team said, "We checked him and our doctors believe he is healing well." Considered a top three pick, the perception on Dorsey's leg among teams with high selections will help shape the first hour of the draft.

Considered a late first-round prospect, Auburn defensive end Quentin Groves is also trying to steady his stock. He sent a letter to all 32 teams following heart surgery March 27 to treat his Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome. WPW is an abnormality in the heart's electrical system that can lead to rapid heartbeats if left untreated. Said a source from one team, "The procedure is effective. There is no concern."

--The news that Michigan wide receiver Mario Manningham and Kansas cornerback Aqib Talib admitted to testing positive for marijuana during their collegiate careers is certain to have a negative impact on their draft stocks. The question is just how much -- and is it the same for both players? Both are first-round caliber athletes, but some insiders would be stunned if either was selected that high. "I don't know how you could justify to your owner that you're taking one of those two," one source explained. "On the one hand (Manningham) you've got a guy who lied to your face. On the other, you have a guy (Talib) who's failed multiple tests."

Rob Rang is a Senior Analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, distributed by The Sports Xchange.

3:30 4/16/08

Brad Thomas
Publisher
PantherInsider.com

You can listen to the CarolinaSportsNet Podcast from last night HERE, where I spoke about the schedule, the draft, the quarterback situation and the offensive line.

The Charlotte Observer approached the prospect of the Panthers trading up to select Matt Ryan, a subject we've spoken about in our forums and on the Carolina Sports Net podcast a number of times. We were also the first to suggest that the Panthers were interested in a top-level running back when other sources wrote it off as nonsense. Those same sources now are talking about what we discussed months ago.

We've discussed at length the prospect of the Panthers drafting a quarterback high for the last several weeks, and the fact that they've had meetings with most of the major players that figure to be available in the first part of the draft fuels the speculation that the team is interested in investing a high pick in a franchise signal-caller. You can join in our discussion here and see why trading up for Matt Ryan makes sense for the Panthers.

Running back still remains a top need of the Panthers, who have former Memphis standout DeAngelo Williams waiting in the wings as the defacto starter after the team jettisoned the underachieving DeShaun Foster a few weeks ago. The Panthers signed former Jacksonville backup LaBrandon Toefield to add depth, but it's clear the team won't go into camp with him, Alex Haynes and oft-concussed Nick Goings as their running back corps. You can read why we think a running back will be a top target of the Panthers and why the offensive line isn't in as bad a shape as some think here.

Some suggest the Panthers would be better served by picking a defensive end like Clemson's Phillip Merling or Florida's Derrick Harvey. Based on intel we have here at PantherInsider, there is absolutely no reason to believe that DE Julius Peppers won't be back to form following a sub-par performance last season. Peppers and the team won't acknowledge it, but the superstar defensive end suffered from an illness last season that required a medical regimen which had many energy zapping side effects. Now that the illness is behind him, he should return to his regular enigmatic form. The team went out and signed Tyler Brayton, who can play DE or DT, and are still high on Stanley McClover and last year's third round pick Charles Johnson. It's a possibility that the Panthers take another end and even re-sign DE Mike Rucker to form a defensive line rotation much like the one the Giants employed last season – one where there are basically four defensive ends rushing the QB in passing situations.

We don't believe that the Panthers will draft an offensive lineman with the thirteenth pick overall because of the depth of the position in the draft and the likely opportunity that they will be able to get nearly equivalent talent in the second round. The Panthers' brass has stated on a number of occasions that they need to get playmakers on offense. With the availability of running backs such as Rashard Mendenhall and Jon Stewart in the first round, the Panthers would get better value drafting them and a tackle in the second rather than drafting a tackle and a lesser-talented running back in the second or third.

We've set up a thread to discuss this blog in our forums -- CLICK HERE.

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