After months of scouting and analyzing this year's draft class, it's almost time for the prospects to start coming off the board.
The Carolina Panthers have five picks at this point, as they don't have selections in the third and seventh rounds. If the right opportunity presented itself, David Gettleman would likely be willing to move back in order to stockpile picks.
Although Gettleman did his best to fill holes with limited financial resources, the Panthers still have numerous needs. Carolina could use improvements at defensive tackle, wide receiver, along the offensive line and at safety.
Most mock drafts from around the web have the Panthers targeting either a defensive tackle or wide receiver in the first round. Addressing one of those positions appears to make sense a week before the draft, but we are talking about one of the most unpredictable events in all of sports.
It will be up to the Panthers front office to get the maximum value with each pick, as the current roster has the potential to challenge the Atlanta Falcons for the divisional title if things break the right way.
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The Carolina Panthers need safety help in the worst way, as Charles Godfrey is the only serviceable safety on the roster.
When the Panthers are on the clock at the No. 14 slot, there is a solid chance that Kenny Vaccaro will be available and grade out as the top player on David Gettleman's board.
Vaccaro was a star on an otherwise disappointing Texas Longhorns defense, as the 6' and 214-pound safety proved to be one of the most versatile defenders in all of college football.
During his senior season in Austin, Vaccaro compiled 92 tackles, two interceptions and seven passes defense. His strong play earned him second-team All-Conference honors and carried him into the draft evaluation process with momentum.
While safeties aren't valued as highly as other positions, Vaccaro's ability to play well against the pass and run would make him a difference-maker from day one.
In the past, I have had the Panthers selecting Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson in this spot. While that could still happen, Gettleman may decide to address the interior of the defensive line later in the draft as the position is very deep this year.
After not addressing the wide receiver position in Round 1, Gettleman will certainly look to find a difference-maker in the passing game in Round 2.
With Cam Newton set to enter his third season, the Panthers front office must give him more weapons on the outside. If Carolina fails to improve Newton's options, it risks stunting his progression as a passer.
The Carolina Panthers' second-round pick will be the 44th overall selection, and many talented receivers are projected to still be on the board.
West Virginia product Stedman Bailey should be around when the Panthers are on the clock in Round 2 and would instantly improve Carolina's passing attack. Last season as a member of the Mountaineers, Bailey hauled in 114 receptions for 1,622 yards and 25 touchdowns.
While Bailey projects to be a slot receiver in the NFL due to his size, he has the potential to develop into more than that due to his ability to get separation.
It's difficult to get a good read on what offensive system would best fit Bailey's game, as West Virginia employed a heavily imbalanced attack that focused on airing the ball out.
The addition of Bailey would take pressure off Steve Smith, as Bailey will be a consistent option that opposing defenses will have to account for.
Yes, I know what you're thinking. The Carolina Panthers cannot afford to wait until the fourth round before addressing the interior of the defensive line.
Well, things don't always go according to plan. In this scenario, the Panthers would have already added two immediate difference-makers to their team while getting excellent value in each spot.
Once the fourth round rolls around, Gettleman should target Penn State defensive tackle Jordan Hill. At 6'1", 303 pounds, Hill was a very good run defender for the Nittany Lions during his final two years playing collegiate football.
Hill possesses a strong upper body and a good center of gravity, which allows him to maintain good position on rushing plays. He's the sort of player that will make everyone around him better against the run, which is exactly what the Panthers should be looking for.
Throughout the scouting process, Hill has been picked apart based upon his height and the stamina he displayed in college.
While each concern appears to be legitimate, the Panthers should take a risk on Hill in the fourth round. If it pays off, the run defense should improve in each of the next couple of seasons.
With the way this mock draft has played out, the Carolina Panthers aren't addressing the offensive line until the fifth round.
In this scenario, the Panthers are fortunate enough to pick up Alvin Bailey. At 6'3", 312 pounds, Bailey has the frame to succeed as a guard at the NFL level.
Surprisingly, Bailey chose to declare for the draft after his junior season at Arkansas. While most expected him to return to school in order to refine his technique, Bailey is counting on his ability to improve on the fly.
Bailey has the potential to develop into a dominant run blocker, which would make him a perfect fit in Carolina's current offensive system.
When an offensive lineman falls into the middle rounds, it's always for a reason. In Bailey's case, it's because his technique needs to be improved, which in turn could keep him from maintaining a long career.
That being said, if coached properly, Bailey could develop into a solid starter at right guard for the better part of a decade.
Brandon McGee failed to live up to the hype during his time at Miami, as he was wildly inconsistent throughout his senior season. That being said, he did gain valuable playing time, which should aid in his transition to the NFL game.
Fortunately for McGee, the draft doesn't happen right after the season, because he has improved his stock since playing his last college game.
After turning in good performances at both the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl, McGee is in better shape now than he was in December. That being said, it's impossible to completely forget what shows up on film.
While at Miami, McGee struggled at times with physical play downfield and was flagged for too many pass-interference calls.
At 5'11", 193 pounds, McGee has the size to play on the outside in the NFL but lacks to speed to move inside.
The Panthers did address the cornerback position in free agency but could use another talented young player in hopes of acquiring one that becomes a star.