2012 NFL Draft: Possible Trade Partners for the Carolina Panthers

Anthony RizzutiSenior Analyst IIIApril 12, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 09:  Head coach Ron Rivera watches on during their game against the New Orleans Saints at Bank of America Stadium on October 9, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

When I tell you the Carolina Panthers can go a plethora of ways with the ninth pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, I'm not exaggerating. There are quite a few formidable prospects that'll be on the board by the time it's the Panthers' turn in the first round.

The usual names include Boston College's Luke Kuechly, LSU's Michael Brockers, Notre Dame's Michael Floyd and Memphis' Dontari Poe. We've even heard some late bloomers as the possible pick for Carolina, including Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox and North Carolina's Quinton Coples.

But despite the wide selection of talent that Marty Hurney and company have well within their reach, who says the Panthers have to stay put at No. 9?

Now that the new NFL CBA is in effect, the exchange of draft picks has become much easier. We've already seen a blockbuster move by the Washington Redskins to acquire the draft's second overall selection. 

Washington had a desperate need for a franchise quarterback and shipped away a heap of picks to the St. Louis Rams for it.

So why not the Panthers, given that they aren't as desperate as the Redskins?

But with possession of the ninth selection, the Carolina front office does have the power to utilize their draft position in a potential trade.

If so, here are a few possible trading partners for the Panthers.

Seattle Seahawks

Is Carolina's reported interest in Kuechly just a smokescreen for Seattle?
Is Carolina's reported interest in Kuechly just a smokescreen for Seattle?Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Out of all the potential partners, the Seattle Seahawks may very well be the most likely. Why?

Because after seeing starting inside linebacker David Hawthorne sign with New Orleans, the Seahawks have a gaping hole at the position. The absolute perfect fix for Pete Carroll's ailing defense would be the draft's top linebacker, Luke Kuechly.

What makes this trade a possibility is Carolina's evident interest in Kuechly. Multiple reports have indicated that the Panthers are considering taking the Boston College standout with the ninth overall selection.

Whether the Panthers' interest in the linebacker is real or just a smokescreen to fool teams like Seattle, the Seahawks must not like their chances of grabbing Kuechly if they remain at the No. 12 spot.

A potential trade would most likely see the ninth overall pick going to Seattle in exchange for the 12th overall selection and a third-round selection.

This would give the Panthers a third-rounder, something they traded away for Greg Olsen last offseason, as well as a shot at a handful of top prospects at the 12 spot. The Panthers would also be assured a shot at Brockers, Poe, Cox or Coples with the 12th overall pick.

Philadelphia Eagles

Despite throwing a $100 million contract at Michael Vick during the summer of 2011, the Philadelphia are quite interested in snagging Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill. They recently met and held a private workout for the draft's most interesting prospect prospect.

Tannehill will probably affect Carolina's first-round plans.
Tannehill will probably affect Carolina's first-round plans.Darren Carroll/Getty Images

But for this trade to be possible, Tannehill must slip by the Cleveland Browns at No. 4 and the Miami Dolphins at No. 8. As of now, that seems relatively unlikely given Miami's need for a franchise play-caller.

If this does happen, however, I'm sure the Eagles would be more than willing to put together an appealing package for Carolina's ninth overall selection. They are a team that does whatever it takes to get what they want.

If it's Tannehill they want, perhaps Philadelphia can devise a deal to send their first-rounder and few more picks to the Panthers for a shot at Tannehill.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs may be in the same spot as Philadelphia. They too have identified a need for a quarterback.

The motive behind a trade with Carolina would be to assure themselves of Tannehill if he drops out of the first eight selections. With the 11th pick, the Chiefs wouldn't have to worry about the Panthers or the Buffalo Bills taking Tannehill.

They would, however, have to worry about another team such as the Eagles swinging a deal with Carolina to jump them.

New England Patriots

Here's quite an interesting scenario. What about a swap with the New England Patriots?

Being that New England has expressed interest in trading up for a top defensive presence, perhaps they can call up the Carolina front office. A proposed deal would send New England's two first-rounders (No. 27 and No. 31) to Carolina for the ninth pick.

If the Panthers opt for that deal, the possibilities are just about endless. Carolina can trade back for two first-rounders and address their needs at the defensive tackle, wide receiver, cornerback and linebacker positions.

At the end of the first, the Panthers can grab a pair of very talented prospects. Some names that could be available at the 27th and 31st spots include Janoris Jenkins, Alshon Jeffery, Stephen Hill Devon Still, Stephon Gilmore and Jerel Worthy.

Minnesota Vikings

This is highly unlikely, but stick with me here. 

Over the past week, the Minnesota Vikings have made it known they are extremely willing to trade the third overall pick. It would, however, require the Panthers to give away quite the heap of draft selections for it.

Although a trade possibility for the pick is really intended for teams trying to grab Tannehill, the Panthers may want to use it for LSU's Morris Claiborne or USC's Matt Kalil.

The only roadblock behind such a deal would be the Panthers' willingness to give up presumably a boatload of selections for Claiborne or Kalil. You can imagine the Vikings will probably ask Carolina for their first-rounders in 2012 and 2013 as well as a few other future picks.