Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
To gain a better idea of what the Carolina Panthers will do with their picks in the NFL draft, we will look something we will refer to as the team's "scouting patterns."
Scouting patterns are where the team has spent its time with prospects in pro days, private workouts and interviews. Combined with some rumors and speculation by the experts who spend their time covering the sport, we should able to have educated guesses at the likelihood of a player being selected by the Panthers.
4/23: The Panthers have revealed they will have a defensive focus in the upcoming draft.
Pro days team has attended
March 28: Cat Scratch Reader and NFL Draft Pro note that the Panthers were in attendance to see Fresno State Bulldogs wide receiver Devon Wylie's pro day.
March 21: The Sporting News reports the Panthers were present for Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright's pro day.
March 11: Arkansas News reports the Panthers attending Arkansas Razorbacks wide receiver Joe Adams' pro day.
March 9: ESPN reports that the Panthers (along with 31 other NFL organizations) were in attendance for Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon's pro day.
March 8: Cat Scratch Reader reports the Panthers attending Clemson defensive tackle Brandon Thompson's pro day.
March 8: Cat Scratch Reader notes that the Panthers were in attendance for Nebraska defensive tackle Jared Crick's pro day.
March 6: The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports the Panthers attended Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill's pro day.
Private workouts team has held
April 10: Cat Scratch Reader notes the Panthers scheduling private workouts with the following NFL draft prospects: Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones, Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, Arkansas receiver Joe Adams, Baylor receiver Kendall Wright, Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy, Midwestern State guard Amini Silatolu, Texas linebacker Keenan Robinson, LSU receiver Rueben Randle, Arkansas State safety Kelcie McCray, Memphis guard Ronald Leary, Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly, Montana defensive back Trumaine Johnson, West Virginia linebacker Bruce Irvin, Boise State safety George Iloka, North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples, and LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne.
April 3: Cat Scratch Reader reports the Panthers scheduled a private visit with Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon.
April 2: Baltimore Ravens reporter Aaron Wilson tweets Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd visited the Carolina Panthers.
March 8: Scout.com reports LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers visiting Carolina.
Other rumored Carolina Panthers prospects of interest
- Cat Scratch Reader reports the Panthers interviewed the following NFL draft prospects at the NFL scouting combine: Blackmon, Brockers, Floyd, Randle, Worthy, Wright, Wylie, Mohamad Sanu, Alameda Ta'mu and Marvin Jones.
- Bleacher Report's Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) tweets that "multiple people have told him the Panthers LOVE him (Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly)."
- Sports Illustrated's Don Banks has the Panthers selecting defensive tackle Fletcher Cox in version 5.0 of his mock draft. Banks had the Panthers selecting defensive tackle Dontari Poe in his version 4.0 mock.
- CBS Sports' Rob Rang has the Panthers selecting Poe.
- Pat Kirwan of CBS Sports has the Panthers selecting cornerback Stephon Gilmore out of South Carolina. Our homework we have done on this very slide would suggest Kirwan hasn't done his on the Panthers scouting habits.
- ESPN's Mel Kiper and Todd Mcshay each have the Panthers going with the Memphis product Poe due to qualities like his freakish athleticism and dominating presence.
- Senior NFL writer Pete Prisco of CBS Sports notes that the Panthers should look to find help at wide receiver, tight end and defensive line pass rush in the NFL draft.
- Pro Football Talk believes that positional areas of need for the Panthers are defensive tackle, defensive end, cornerback and wide receiver.
- FOX Sports' Peter Schrager used the Panthers' ninth overall selection to select Mississippi State defensive lineman Fletcher Cox.
- The Panthers general manager Marty Hurney tells Pro Football Talk the team will look to use the draft rather than free agency to shore up the receiving corps.
After some digestion of the surplus of data compiled above, it seems obvious the organization is looking at one area aside from the defense with its first-round selection in the upcoming NFL draft: the wide receiver position.
GM Marty Hurney recently gave us a glimpse of the organization's philosophy with the first-round pick in an interview with Pro Football Talk (listen around the 9:40 mark). Hurney said if there are two or three players who are close in value, you make the selection based on need. Hurney stated that if there is a perceived gap in talent, then you take the best player on the board.
The due diligence that the Panthers have done in spending a lot of time scouting receiver Justin Blackmon likely tells us they believe there is a realistic chance he falls to them at pick nine.
My personal belief is that Blackmon is gone by the Panthers' selection, leading to many players who are close in value on the Panthers draft board's availability. At that point, look for the Panthers to select a position of greatest need with their pick, and their biggest need is shoring up the defensive line with a tackle like Poe, Worthy or Cox.