My name is Brian Miller and I will be taking over as the Editor for CatCrave.com. My mission is simple, make this the best Carolina Panther site on the Internet. That won’t be easy because there are some very solid sites out there and we are but one of that fantastic group of fans. That does not mean we won’t try. As the season ticks down to it’s final conclusion and we close the book on this horrible season, we can countdown to two things that will shape and mold the Panthers of 2011 and beyond.
The hiring of a new head coach and the NFL draft. We will talk about Bill Cowher later. For now, let’s look at the draft. Here is our first mock draft of the season.
Here is a Mid-Season Mock Draft to go along with the changes being made with the roster. While the Dolphins still feel they will make the playoffs, it’s always fun to speculate to next April.
1. Carolina – Andrew Luck | QB | Stanford | 6’4” | 235
As of now, the Panthers hold a one game lead on owning the overall pick in Aprils’ draft. Is there any question that the team needs a franchise QB? Well, as “Luck” would have it, this years rookie QB pool boasts one of the most highly touted rookies since Phillip Rivers. Andrew Luck is as close to NFL ready as a rookie can be and seeing the progress made by St. Louis Rams rookie Sam Bradford this year, it’s easy to buy into the hype. Luck will have his up and down games but the truth is the Panthers could reverse this awful season with a simple change at the headmaster position on the field.
Luck is a no-brainer for the first overall pick, but the Panthers still have to play three remaining 2010 season games before the top spot is locked down for good. No team ever walks onto a field playing to lose and the Panthers will not do that. So a watchful eye on the Cincinnati Bengals will be kept as they are only one game better than we are.
2. Cincinnati – AJ Green | WR | Georgia | 6’4” | 208
The Bengals needs are more reaching than WR and a new QB wouldn’t be a bad idea. Carson Palmer has yet to get the job done this season with his aging duo of Terrell Owens and Ocho-Cinco. As the draft draws near there will be a lot of talk surrounding this pick and if in fact Cincy holds on to the number 2 spot, they very well may try and move it. A lot of this could be predicated on the future of the Bengals head coach as well. The team may ship him out in favor of someone new.
3. Detroit – Prince Amukamara | CB | Nebraska | 6’1” | 200
Detroit has some good things going on offense, and need to address the offensive line, but there isn’t anyone worth a top 10 pick. Amukamara will help improve the defense and give Detroit a solid #1 CB.
4. Denver –Robert Quinn | DE/OLB | North Carolina | 6’5” | 256
The Broncos have fired their HC, are struggling offensively and defensively, and have as many holes as the air in Mile High is thin. The team seems committed to Kyle Orton, for now, but I don’t think they take a QB here. What they really need is a bone crushing DE who can make plays and that is exactly what NC product Quinn can deliver. Too many injuries on the line for Denver decimated their season early. Keep an eye on Quinn, his ineligible status for 2010 could make teams shy away from early and he could drop.
5: Buffalo – Jake Locker | QB | Washington | 6’3” | 230
The Bills need defensive help and Quinn could be a pick here or Marcell Dareus out of Alabama, but they really need a QB as Ryan Fitzpatrick simply isn’t the answer long term. Another bottom feeding season for the Bills could put this team in a new market in 2012. Yes, it’s that bad. Locker may not be the number 2 QB in this years market but he could fit in with the Bills system a little better than Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett.
6. Dallas – Patrick Peterson | CB | LSU | 6’1” | 222
The Cowboys have an offense, Jason Garrett is coaching well enough to likely be retained as the next HC (Jerry Jones loves this guy) which leaves the defense as their problem child. Jones will try hard to move this pick and gain more selections on day 2. He very well may succeed. If not, the one position they really need is CB and if Peterson can make an impact as a rookie.
7. San Francisco – Ryan Mallet | QB | Arkansas | 6’7” | 238
Does anyone think that the 49′ers don’t have a QB problem? Another team on the verge of looking for a new HC. Mallet will be a reach but honestly, the 49′ers can’t really wait and what’s a reach if not Alex Smith?
8. Cleveland –Marcell Dareus | DE/DT | Alabama | 6’3” | 305
Cleveland is quietly putting a competitive team together, but they must improve on the defense and put pressure on the QB. In my opinion Quinn is the best player in this draft. He could still be the top pick, but since he was suspended for the year there will be character concerns. Cleveland will jump all over Quinn in this spot.
9: Minnesota Vikings | Daquan Bowers | DE | Clemson
10. San Diego – Johnathan Baldwin | WR | Pittsburgh | 6’5” | 225
11. Arizona – Ryan Kerrigan | DE/OLB | Purdue | 6’4” | 263
12. New England – Mark Ingram | RB | Alabama | 5’10” | 215
13. Jacksonville – Da’Quan Bowers | DE | Clemson | 6’4” | 280
14. St Louis – Michael Floyd | WR | ND | 6’3” | 220
15. Washington – Christian Ponder | QB | FSU | 6’3” | 218
16. Miami – Deunta Williams | FS | North Carolina | 6’1” | 205
17. Chicago – Anthony Costanzo | OT | Boston College | 6’7” | 295
18. Philadelphia – Ras-I Dowling | CB | Virginia | 6’2” | 200
19. Seattle – Aaron Williams | CB | Texas | 6’1” | 190
20. Tennessee – Travis Lewis | OLB | Oklahoma | 6’2” | 235
21. Green Bay – Ryan Williams | RB | Virginia Tech | 5’10” | 205
22. New Orleans – Adrian Clayborn | DE | Iowa | 6’3” | 282
23. Indianapolis – Allen Bailey | DL | Miami | 6’4” | 288
24. Houston – Julio Jones | WR | Alabama | 6’4” | 210
25. Pittsburgh – Joseph Barksdale | OT | LSU | 6’5” | 315
26. Baltimore – Derek Sherrod | OT | Mississippi State | 6’6” | 305
27. Tampa Bay – Bruce Carter | OLB | North Carolina | 6’3” | 230
28. Kansas City – Von Miller | DE/OLB | Texas A&M | 6’2” | 240
29. Atlanta – Jeremy Beal | DE | Oklahoma | 6’3” | 261
30: NY Jets – Akeem Ayers | DE/OLB | UCLA | 6’4” | 252
31. NY Giants – Nick Farley | DT | Auburn | 6’4” | 296
32. New England – Cameron Heyward | DE/OLB | 6’4” | 288
PLEASE NOTE: Most of these slots will change weekly. This draft was prepped prior to the week 14 regular season weekend.