Here we are on the eve of the 2012 NFL Draft and you can start to feel the excitement building up. The last of the mock drafts from all the big networks are already out and teams are starting to fill up their “war rooms” and finish up their evaluations of potential players. There are teams who are picking in the early part of 1st round that already know who their drafting, Indianapolis is a lock to take Andrew Luck, and the same can be said about Washington drafting Robert Griffin III. Then there are those teams at the end of the round who know who they would like to pick, but it all really comes down to availability. Then you have the Panthers who are somewhere in the middle of all that, as they hold the 9th overall selection in the 1st round.
The Panthers have three big needs they need to fill with this draft and two of those needs could be filled with their 1st round selection. Fletcher Cox (DT, Mississppi State) is the guy I would go after with that 9th overall pick, and if he is off the board when Carolina’s pick comes up, then I would draft Luke Kuechly (LB, Boston College). I highly doubt both of these guys will be taking in the first 8 picks, so we should have a shot one of them. However, if both men are gone then maybe Quinten Coples (DE, UNC) is the guy you take. But I’ll be fine with just about whatever Carolina decides…unless they decide to select Stephon Gilmore (CB, South Carolina). I think Gilmore is the most overrated player in this year’s draft and is nowhere near deserving of being a top 10 pick.
However, corner is definitely an area the Panthers need to address in this year draft, so no matter if they take a DT or LB in the first round, they have to draft a corner in the 2nd round. Maybe a guy like Janoris Jenkis (CB, North Alabama) will fall to us or Dre Kirkpatrick (CB, Alabama) might fall as well. If both guys are gone then I’d really love take Trumaine Johnson (CB, Montana). He’s tremendous size and speed, and could help out our defense immediately.
We don’t have a 3rd round pick, so in the 4th I think it would be a good idea to take a linebacker if we don’t draft Kuechly in the 1st. Keenan Robinson (LB) from Texas should still be available around then. But if we do take Kuechly then I would try to bolster our receiving corps a little bit with our 4th round pick and take a guy like Ryan Broyles (WR, Oklahoma). He’s a smaller, quick receiver, and could be the heir apparent to Steve Smith.
In the 5th, 6th, and 7th rounds I think we should just be looking to add depth to the offensive and defensive lines, as well as the linebacker position. However, we could use another safety who can give Sherrod Martin a legitimate battle for his job during training camp, so if a guy like Justin Bethel (S, Presbyterian) is still on the board in the later rounds then I would definitely pull the trigger and draft him. (if you want to see some of Justin’s freakish athletic ability, then watch this clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08RJgDJS8Dg)
This should definitely be an exciting draft as the Panthers try to fill some holes in the defense as they gear up to have a playoff caliber season. And if they are going to do that then they have to draft players at the Defensive Tackle, Linebacker, and Cornerback positions.