2012 NFL Draft: Carolina's Options for a Second-Round Draft Pick

Nader Ktait@@NaderKtaitCorrespondent IIApril 27, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: Carolina's Options for a Second-Round Draft Pick

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    Luke Kuechly became the Carolina Panthers first-round pick in the 2012 NFL draft.

    Now that the Panthers' first round is over, it’s time to take a deep breath and then turn our attention to the second round. The Panthers have the eighth pick in the second round, and there are a lot of good choices that will be there then.

    To note, the second round is particularly important for the Panthers because they have no pick in the third round. The Panthers traded their third-round pick to the Chicago Bears when they acquired Greg Olsen.

    Creating a list of potential candidates should be fairly easy task in comparison to generating a complete mock draft. For instance, if you create a complete mock draft and predict the Panthers will go with a defensive tackle in the second round and the Panthers choose one in the first, then your predictions might be way off. 

    There’s also no guarantee that a team won’t trade its pick during a particular round.

    All these variables and complex situational circumstances make it really difficult to make successful predictions. That’s probably why mock drafts are so much fun to make, and I give a lot of credit to all those who are making them.

    I’ve prepared a list of possible draft prospects for the second round, based on popularity and, more importantly, areas that the Panthers will look to improve in.

Wide Receivers

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    Potential Option:

    Alshon Jeffery (South Carolina)

    When we think about receivers for Carolina, we immediately think of Steve Smith, and rightfully so.  Brandon LaFell and David Gettis will compete for the second receiver slot next season.

    Gettis, however, is coming back from a torn ACL and there’s no guarantee that he will be as productive as he was in the 2010 season. LaFell, on the other hand, has shown a lot of promise in the last season.

    Drafting a receiver to compete with LaFell and Gettis could have its benefits. It’s also never a bad idea to have another potential third receiver, in case LaFell or Gettis doesn’t workout. Newton has shown a lot promise in his passing game and it would be nice to surround him with some worthy receivers.

    Alshon Jeffery is a potential candidate.  However, he’s been criticized for his work habits and how his “weight fluctuates.”  It would be nice if the critics were wrong about this guy.  With LaFell and Gettis competing for a second receiver position, the last thing Carolina needs is a guy who won’t try hard enough for the second or even the third receiver slot.

Defensive Back(s)

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    Potential Option(s):

    Janoris Jenkins (North Alabama)

    Trumaine Johnson (Montana)

    The Panthers secondary is definitely in need of some improvements.  The defensive back position had been a problem for Carolina in the last season. I could definitely see the Panthers drafting a defensive back to play on the other side of the field of Chris Gamble.

    Most likely, Dre Kirkpatrick will not be available for the Panthers when the pick in the second round so he's out of the question.  

    There’s been a lot of talk about Jenkins going in the first round but he’s had some personal issues that could discourage many teams from drafting him. He also doesn’t seem like the kind of player that Jerry Richardson would want in Charlotte, so I’d be surprised if the Panthers draft him.  Those of you might remember how fast Dwayne Jarrett was booted off the team when he got a DUI.

    Trumaine Johnson is another option.  Johnson is a lot taller than Jenkins (Johnson is 6”2’ and Jenkins is 5”10’).  Going with a taller defensive back might not be a bad idea, considering the amount of tall receivers like Vincent Jackson and Marques Colston that happen to play in the NFC South. The Panthers will need to cover these tall guys at least twice a year. It might be a good idea to draft a guy like Johnson.

Defensive Tackle

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    Potential Option:

    Devon Still, (Penn State)

    The Panthers run-defense will definitely need some improvements before next season, especially in the middle of the defensive line. The Panthers were ranked 25th in this area and will most likely try to find ways of improving it.

    Ron Rivera is interested in finding a player that could help the team immediately. I can't be sure that he'll find one in the second round, but he'll definitely try. Although they are both young and have a lot of potential, the Panthers may not be able to solely rely on Sione Fua and Terrell McClain if they expect improvement in this area.

    Devon Still has a lot of potential and could become a future starter for the Panthers defense.  He’s particularly fast for defensive lineman, running a 5.00 and 5.03 at the NFL combine.

    If he’s available and the Panthers are looking, I could definitely see them taking Still.

Other Positions

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    Defensive and Offensive Lineman:

    Antwan Applewhite was impressive last year and the Panthers just resigned him. However, the Panthers have struggled to find a replacement for Julius Peppers. But this should make a lot of sense, considering how hard it would be to find a guy just like Peppers.

    Nonetheless, they'll need to find someone that can compete for that position. Putting more pressure on the opposing quarterback will crucial if the Panthers expect to create more turnovers.

    The only other position that seems important enough for Carolina to draft is an offensive tackle. The Panthers will need to protect Newton even more in the next season.

    There have already been signs on them intending to when they signed fullback Mike Tolbert. Tolbert may have been signed to take away goal situations from Newton.

    The Panthers will also look to improve their running-game in the upcoming season. Double Trouble, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, were especially effective when Jeff Otah was at his best. But Otah has a lot of trouble with injuries so I could see the Panthers trying to find a replacement for him.

    Whether the Panthers pick up an offensive tackle in the second round or another round, is a good question.