Carolina Panthers' Day 2 2014 NFL Draft Primer
The Carolina Panthers waited patiently for their turn to pick and selected Kelvin Benjamin with the 28th overall pick. It is possible many Panthers fans were shocked to see who was the team's first pick, but it was an essential pickup nonetheless. With the first round in the rear-view mirror, it is time to focus on what Carolina faces over the next two days.
General manager Dave Gettleman has a way of keeping Carolina fans on their collective toes, and much of the same should be in store when Rounds 2-3 get underway Friday night.
The Panthers still have a lot of needs to address, and the talent pool is still deep. It would not be shocking to see Carolina pick up two more bonafide starters.
Just like the Day 1 primer, this one is very similar and discusses the same topics. Of course, this version has taken into consideration the first round and how the next two rounds will play out. Sit back, relax and let's get an idea of what Friday evening will bring to Carolina.
Day 1 Recap and Analysis
Round 1 was surprising for Carolina. Yes, the need for a wide receiver was great, but considering that the protection of Cam Newton was important, it seemed only logical the first pick would have been an offensive tackle. As noted from the previous slide, the depth of the offensive tackle position is deep enough to warrant holding off until the next two rounds.
Benjamin brings a lot of positives to the offense. He brings some negative stuff, too, but Carolina has a good group of coaches who should be able to get him up to speed. Newton needs someone to grow with, and Benjamin is the type of receiver who can not only grow with the young, talented quarterback but help the Panthers be successful over the next few seasons.
It's unlikely the Panthers are done drafting receivers. For those keeping score, this writer would have you believe Carolina will draft three of them in this draft. Benjamin provides a good start. His size alone will attract the focus of many secondaries, but it is likely the Panthers will give him a strong supporting cast to go along with the current group already on the roster.
Updated Needs for Carolina
Much like the first primer, the needs are still the same. However, Carolina has addressed one vital area and could add onto it in the later rounds. Here are the updated needs based on the results of the first round.
Offensive Tackle: There is still a need to protect Newton. Finding that outside protection shouldn't be too hard, and the depth of the position should earn Carolina a quality offensive tackle who is able to start from Day 1. Whether or not a prospective tackle can play on the left side shouldn't be relevant, but it would be a plus.
Cornerback: This position becomes more crucial because the rival New Orleans Saints drafted Brandin Cooks, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Mike Evans. Both players have the potential to have huge rookie campaigns, and if the Panthers cannot get their secondary shored up for 2014, both meetings could prove to be big days for both rookies. There is still a chance Carolina cashes in on a solid defensive back in either the second or third round.
Wide Receiver: Does Gettleman go back-to-back with receivers? As the saying goes, you can never have too much of a good thing. Carolina has a crowded group of receivers on the roster, and the addition of Benjamin crowds it more. However, the Panthers should be looking for the best and allow the young talent of the draft to compete with the current group of young receivers on the roster. If anything, the competition in training camp should breed excellence.
For the same reasons mentioned in the first primer, keep an eye out on the following positions: offensive guard, tight end and outside linebacker. There is always the possibility Gettleman throws another curveball and catches everyone off guard.
Top Day 2 Targets
Based on the needs presented in the previous slide, the focus for the next two rounds should be on players at offensive tackle and cornerback. It is likely Carolina pursues an offensive tackle next, and there will be plenty to choose from. If that happens, expect the third round to shift to the defense and a cornerback to be taken.
Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee: Antonio Richardson could be an idea choice here. He has the size to be a good anchor and can be hard for defenders to move. His scouting report suggests he may have a difficult time learning the playbook, but Carolina found a way to simplify it for Newton, so that weakness shouldn't be an issue.
Joel Bitonio, OT, Nevada: Joel Bitonio is able to play left tackle, but based on his scouting report, he may not have the size for the position and could be better utilized on the inside at offensive guard. Given the needs of the Panthers, it is safe to assume he could play either position but could be started on the outside.
Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia: Morgan Moses was expected to be the Panthers' first pick this year in many mock drafts. That wasn't the case, but he could still find his way to Carolina with the depth of the offensive tackles graded ahead of him. If this turns out to be the case, it becomes a win-win for the Carolina front office.
Keith McGill, CB, Utah: A top performer in the combine's vertical jump and broad jump, Keith McGill could become available to Carolina if he is on the board in the second round. His size makes him a formidable opponent to the receivers he's matched up against. He could benefit from being more physical as the competition he will encounter at the pro level will test him often.
Bashaud Breeland, CB, Clemson: Bashaud Breeland is the type of defensive back that will help stop the run. He is very aggressive and doesn't quit on the pursuit. Breeland could stand to work on his tackling technique as the Panthers cannot afford to have a defensive back missing tackles.
Ross Cockrell, CB, Duke: Ross Cockrell is a smart corner who can recognize routes. His excellent leaping ability and quickness are undermined by his short arms and small hands. However, he could be a solid addition late in the third round.
What Are the Experts Saying?
David Newton of ESPN on Kelvin Benjamin (via Twitter):
"Benjamin will make Carolina forget about (Steve) Smith."
That could be the case, but it could be a work in progress. Carolina has a meeting in Week 4 with Smith's new team, the Baltimore Ravens, so it may be a while before fans are not missing the fiery receiver.
Todd McShay of ESPN (see video)
Much of what Todd McShay said in his video assessment of Benjamin is on par with what has been stated already. If he can limit the number of dropped passes and be the kind of receiver that made him a favorite target for Jameis Winston at Florida State, he should thrive in the Carolina offense.
Michael Irvin of NFL Network (via Joe Person of The State)
"One of the biggest steals of the draft."
That is high praise for someone who has a lot of flaws to his game. However, Michael Irvin has a point. Benjamin could become a late-first-round steal if he puts up huge numbers as a pro. He has the quarterback capable of throwing him the ball, and while he may not break out immediately, his potential should be showcased in each game this season.
5 Predictions for Day 2
1. Carolina will fill both of its remaining needs.
With two rounds to work with Friday, it's logical the Panthers will be able to shore up the remaining weak spots on the roster. That is not to say Gettleman won't target a linebacker or a tight end if he thinks the value is there. The best player available will emerge as the pick to Carolina.
2. The Panthers will stand pat at both draft positions.
Essentially, Carolina will not trade up or trade back. The latter is still a possibility, but unless some team makes Gettleman an offer he cannot refuse, he should be content to keep his Panthers where they are at in both rounds. If a trade-back scenario presents itself, look no further than the teams that traded away third-round picks.
3. Carolina's newest defensive back will hail from the region.
The Panthers need a cornerback, and there are plenty of goods ones out there still available. The prediction here is that he will have played his college ball in either North or South Carolina. The two obvious candidates are Breeland of Clemson and Cockrell of Duke. Either player will fill the need in the secondary and should make an immediate impact.
4. Gettleman won't shy away from bringing in an offensive guard.
Trai Turner (LSU) and David Yankey are both guards who graded out higher than Moses. That being said, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Panthers take one of the hulking offensive guards in the second round. The outside should be the priority, but on draft day, anything goes.
5. Fans will not be fond of one of the picks.
This probably goes without saying, but fans will not like one of the picks made Friday. The reason being is in their mind, another player was the better option. Granted, Benjamin was not embraced by everyone, but there will be those who will make up the majority of disgruntled fans not happy with either the second- or third-round selections.
Updated Carolina Panthers Mock Draft
Aside from a few minor changes, the updated mock for Rounds 2-7 remains the same.
Round 2 (60th Overall)
Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia: Carolina went another direction in getting Benjamin in the first round. It won't matter because Moses will be available to them in the second. The need here is two-fold: Start rebuilding the offensive line, and provide Newton with someone capable of protecting his blind side. Moses will be an asset in both pass protection and run-blocking.
Round 3 (92nd Overall)
Ross Cockrell, CB, Duke: Much like the prediction made in the previous slide, Cockrell will be the choice in the third round. The Panthers will have picked up their wide receiver and offensive tackle, leaving only the secondary to be addressed. Cockrell has the smarts to play well in the league, and if he fine-tunes his game, he should be a welcome addition.
Round 4 (128th Overall)
Anthony Steen, OG, Alabama: This pick is a big body that could add some depth to the interior of the offensive line. Anthony Steen should be able to go when camp opens and could compete for playing time with the current offensive guards on the Carolina roster.
Round 5 (168th Overall)
Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers: Another big receiver but one who is not as physical as he should be. However, if he is groomed properly, Brandon Coleman could turn out to be a decent receiver and maybe become one of the steals of the draft. Having two big receivers will provide Newton with inviting targets inside the red zone.
Round 6 (204th Overall)
Justin Britt, OT, Missouri: Justin Britt is a big lineman who could potentially move to the inside. The Panthers need as much help upfront as possible, and he could be the logical choice in the sixth round. Drafting a lineman who can move from one spot to another is better than changing the position of a defensive lineman because there are no more bodies available on the offensive side of the ball.
Round 7 (225th Overall Pick)
Jalen Saunders, WR, Oklahoma: The perfect complement to the tall and rangy Benjamin, Jalen Saunders has the speed to make plays underneath. Given the newest addition to Carolina, he could even challenge for deep balls as well.