Carolina Panthers 2013 Mock Draft: Expect New GM to Draft for Defense

Al BruceContributor IApril 23, 2013

Carolina Panthers 2013 Mock Draft: Expect New GM to Draft for Defense

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    Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman is two days away from kicking off his inaugural draft at the helm of the Panthers' front office.

    Once Roger Goodell puts the Panthers on the clock, Gettleman will be tasked with addressing Carolina's needs at safety, defensive tackle, cornerback and wide receiver.

    The Panthers may be a couple of pieces away from being serious playoff contenders, but they only have five draft picks this year so Gettleman will have to make every pick count.

    With such limited resources, what position will Gettleman target in the first round? 

    Should Gettleman draft the best player available, or should he draft for need?

    Let's take a look at one scenario that could unfold for the Carolina Panthers this weekend in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Round 1, Pick 14: Sylvester Williams, DT, UNC

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    The Panthers decide to address their defensive line first in this case, and Dave Gettleman begins his tenure by pulling off a minor surprise. 

    After seeing Star Lotulelei and Sharrif Floyd go in the top ten, Carolina takes North Carolina defensive tackle Sylvester Williams ahead of Shelden Richardson and Kenny Vaccaro.

    Carolina has done its homework on Williams, and he's one of the more impressive defensive tackle prospects in this draft on film because he was such a disruptive force in Chapel Hill. It would behoove young defensive tackles to study Williams' textbook swim move.

    Williams gets the nod over Richardson here because of his size (6'3", 310 lbs.), power and explosive first step.

    Williams, Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson would form a fearsome trio along Carolina's defensive line.

Round 2, Pick 44: Phillip Thomas, S, Fresno State

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    After landing their defensive tackle in the first round, the Panthers turn to the secondary in Round 2. 

    Phillip Thomas isn't a household name in ACC country, but the 6'1", 208 pound Fresno State product has all of the physical tools you want in a safety.

    Thomas will come down in the box to greet a running back as eagerly as he will track the football in the air.  You rarely see ball-carriers fall forward after Thomas gets a clean lick on them.

    Thomas is also an alert blitzer who knows how to disguise his intentions when he's sent after the quarterback. 

    Thomas' physicality and swagger would provide a significant upgrade for Carolina at free or strong safety.

Round 4, Pick 108: Ryan Swope, WR, Texas A&M

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    The Panthers catch a break here as Ryan Swope falls to them in Round 4. Swope didn't tail off much in his production last season in Texas A&M's first year in the SEC.

    He can run by defensive backs with his speed, or get open with his superb route-running skills.

    Carolina needs to provide Cam Newton with as many weapons in the passing game as it can, and Swope would be an outstanding value in the fourth round because of his ability to create big plays with the ball in his hands.

Round 5, Pick 148: Sanders Commings, CB, Georgia

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    Carolina returns to the defensive backfield in Round 5 and selects Georgia cornerback Sanders Commings.

    Like former Panthers cornerback Chris Gamble, the 6'0", 216 pound Commings is bigger than most corners, but he still maintains top-end speed.

    He's an opportunistic defender who isn't afraid to battle wide receivers for the football.

    Commings held his own against NFL-caliber talent in his 35 starts at Georgia, and the Panthers would welcome his physical presence in the secondary to compete against Roddy White, Julio Jones, Vincent Jackson and Marques Colston in the NFC South.

Round 6, Pick 182: Chris Faulk, OT, LSU

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    Dave Gettleman puts the finishing touch on his first draft with the Panthers by adding some depth along Carolina's offensive line.

    LSU offensive tackle Chris Faulk probably would have been long gone by the sixth round if he hadn't torn his ACL early last season.

    At 6'6", 330 pounds, Faulk is an imposing run blocker who displays surprising lateral quickness in pass protection.

    He size would allow him to play right tackle in the NFL, but he's also athletic enough to play some left tackle as well.

    The big question is whether Faulk can recover from the ACL injury and get in shape for camp, but at this point in the draft he's great value for the Panthers.