Now that the major hub-bub is over with and round one is over, the minor part of the hub-bub can officially begin.
The Carolina Panthers have the 44th overall pick of the draft and without a third-rounder they really need to double-dip for starters with their top two picks. David Gettleman addressed the void at DT by drafting Utah star Star Lotulelei. Right now, that looks like a gift. The next few seasons will confirm or deny that, but that’s how it goes. I think he’s a great pick and glad he fell that far.
As for round two tonight, the Panthers pick at 44th means 12th in the round, up 2 spots from their relative position at 14 in the first round.
The top ten in the second round should probably rule out either Tyler Eifert or Zach Ertz as TEs, but that’s not a major need for the Panthers unless they wanted to head to one of those double-TE passing offenses…no, not with that backfield, so that’s 2 fewer picks to worry about. Eddie Lacy? One fewer.
Toss in another couple of QBs and one Manti T’eo, that leaves 6 players to sift through.
One will probably be another offensive tackle – perhaps Menelik Watson of Florida State, so he’s probably gone.
Tom Russell, my colleague here at catcrave.com, has been saying Terron Armstead might still be around when the Panthers pick, and he would be a very interesting choice. Armstead is one of those small school kids like the Panthers’ second round pick LAST season, Amini Silatolu, and the jury is apparently still out on him from what I saw during the games last season. I just don’t know that a double-down on a similar type of unproven player is warranted up here, but I’m sure there’s a story there and that Gettleman’s done his due diligence.
If he seems worthy, he could possibly be around to plug into the right side. Physically, he’d be an instant upgrade over Byron Bell by a mile. It’s the whole culture shock to the NFL thing where there’s no step like serving 2 years at an SEC school to prove yourself in Triple-A before you’re actually called up.
The problem is that the next OT has a 3rd-round grade, and drafting is as much about value as it is about need if not more so.
The Panthers really need a guard to help with that running game and inside pass protection, and there’s a two-player cushion there as well. Kyle Long, from Oregon, and Larry Warford, from Kentucky are two guys that are the road-grading guys you want to have as guards, and one would really fit well into that troublesome RG spot.
Geoff Hangartner is a steady player and is best in a literal “sixth man” role – the first guy on the bench to come in and take care of a sudden need (injury) at either guard position or even center, as he did last year. A kid like Warford would inject a massively strong kid and run blocker to give that salary cap-eating backfield some room to earn that money.
As for WRs, We’ve got USC WR Robert Woods and California WR Keenan Allen. Allen’s the one I like, despite the fact he ran only a 4.7 at his Pro Day. He’s still not 100% coming off injury and with his leg injury, speed is the last thing to return everyone says. Besides, he wasn’t a burner when healthy – a 4.5 guy at best, but one who caught everything all over the place.
Lastly, a pair of free safeties to consider: D.J. Swearinger from South Carolina and Philip Thomas of Fresno. Thomas is rated slightly higher than Swearinger, but Swearinger could be one of those “local favorites” so either guy would be a nice upgrade on the back end of a decent pass rush.
Both guys run about a 4.6, with Thomas being a little under and Swearinger a little over but Swearinger is a little bit better overall athlete and I think probably is a little bit better pro NFL safety…but hopefully anyone in front of Carolina is wanting whoever Gettleman, Ron Rivera, and everyone else is not!