Carolina Panthers Ultimate 2014 Draft Primer
A 12-4 season pigeonholed the Panthers into picking near the end of every round of the draft, starting at pick No. 28 in the first round. Sure, Carolina is set at quarterback and has one of the best defensive fronts in the NFL, but there are some gaping holes for general manager Dave Gettleman to fill.
The entire wide receiver depth chart from 2013 left via free agency, and the talent pool Gettleman brought in to replace last year’s crew isn’t as talented.
The Panthers are going to have to think about a wide receiver early in the draft.
Another position of need the Panthers must address early is offensive tackle. Jordan Gross, who anchored Carolina’s offensive line, retired in the offseason—as did a few others—crippling the depth along the offensive line.
To protect quarterback Cam Newton, the team is going to have to bolster its offensive line through the draft.
After those two huge holes, look for the Panthers to think about the defensive backfield.
Here’s what you need to know about the 2014 NFL draft and how the Panthers can set themselves up for another shot at the NFC South crown.
2014 Draft Picks
- Round 1, Pick 28 (28)
- Round 2, Pick 28 (60)
- Round 3, Pick 28 (92)
- Round 4, Pick 28 (128)
- Round 5, Pick 28 (168)
- Round 6, Pick 28 (204)
- Round 7, Pick 10 (225) (From Giants)—The Carolina Panthers obtained this pick when they sent linebacker Jon Beason to the New York Giants in October 2013.
Position-by-Position Big Board
Disclaimer: The big boards are based on players that fit the Panthers from a need and value perspective—i.e. the more players listed, the higher the team need.
Also, take into account the perceived value and projected selection position. Players listed are done so based on anticipated selection spot (read: Johnny Manziel might be the top quarterback taken, but the Panthers won’t be grabbing a passer that high, if at all).
1. Tajh Boyd (Clemson)
2. Logan Thomas (Virginia Tech)
3. Stephen Morris (Miami)
4. Garrett Gilbert (Southern Methodist)
1. Lache Seastrunk (Baylor)
2. Storm Johnson Central Florida)
3. Isaiah Crowell (Alabama State)
1. Odell Beckham Jr. (LSU)
2. Brandin Cooks (Oregon State)
3. Marqise Lee (USC)
4. Cody Latimer (Indiana)
5. Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt)
1. Blake Annen (Cincinnati)
2. Xavier Grimble (USC)
3. Asa Watson (North Carolina State)
1. Cyrus Kouandijo (Alabama)
2. Morgan Moses (Virginia)
3. Jack Mewhort (Ohio State)
4. Antonio Richardson (Tennessee)
5. Cameron Fleming (Stanford)
1. Gabe Jackson (Mississippi State)
2. Dakota Dozier (Furman)
3. Trai Turner LSU)
4. Brandon Thomas (Clemson)
5. Russell Bodine (North Carolina)
1. Marcus Martin (USC)
2. Weston Richburg (Colorado State)
3. Bryan Stork (Florida State)
4. Travis Swanson (Arkansas)
5. Gabe Ikard (Oklahoma)
1. Kony Ealy (Auburn)
2. Scott Crichton (Oregon State)
3. Telvon Smith (Florida State)
4. Jordan Tripp (Montana)
5. Adrian Hubbard (Alabama)
1. Kelcy Quarles (South Carolina)
2. Khyri Thornton (Southern Mississippi)
3. Zack Kerr (Deleware)
1. Chris Borland (Wisconsin)
2. Shayne Skov (Stanford)
3. Brock Coyle (Montana)
1. Jason Verrett (TCU)
2. Pierre Desir (Lindenwood)
3. Jaylen Watkins (Florida)
4. Bashaud Breeland (Clemson)
5. Ross Cockrell (Duke)
1. Dion Bailey (USC)
2. Marqueston Huff (Wyoming)
3. Kenny Ladler (Vanderbilt)
4. Jonathan Dowling (Western Kentucky)
1.Jimmie Ward (Northern Illinois)
2. Brock Vereen (Minnesota)
3. Dezmen Southward (Wisconsin)
4. Vinnie Sunseri (Alabama)
Round 1, Pick 28 (28): Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Needs: OT, WR, FS
The first thing fans in Carolina are going to have to do is learn how to say the name Cyrus Kouandjio.
His last name is pronounced KWAHN-jo, by the way.
Next, the fans will need to begin loving this behemoth (6’7”, 322 lbs) of an offensive tackle who was one of six semifinalists for the Outland Trophy last year.
Kouandjio not only has the mountainous size to set him apart from the pack, he’s a raw piece of clay who should only develop into a better NFL tackle as he learns and grows as a professional.
A gifted run-blocker who can also anchor in and stop the pass rush, Kouandjio uses awesome footwork to stay with assignments. He’s also a high-motor lineman with more quickness than speed.
Round 2, Pick 28 (60): Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
Needs: WR, FS, CB, OL
The Carolina Panthers are going to have to come away from this year’s draft with at least one wide receiver who can start from Week 1. The team should also grab a guy who can develop into a starter by midseason.
That’s a tall task for general manager Dave Gettleman. Luckily for him, this class of receivers is deep.
Former Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews will fit the need of a guy who can come in and play from Week 1. After catching 112 passes for 1,477 yards last season, Matthews became the all-time leading receiver (262 career catches for 3,759 career yards) in SEC history.
At 6’3”, he’s a huge target who is an accomplished route-runner and can catch anything thrown in his direction. Matthews is also a student of the game who will work as hard off the field as he does on it.
That makes him a perfect fit for this Carolina offense.
Round 3, Pick 28 (92): Bashaud Breeland, CB, Clemson
Needs: FS, CB, OL
Prior to the 2013 season, one of the biggest question marks surrounding the Carolina Panthers was its defensive backfield. What was thought to be a liability turned into a group that gelled and helped the front seven turn Carolina’s defense into one of the most feared in the NFL.
Unfortunately for Carolina, there was some turnover in the secondary.
The Panthers lost safety Mike Mitchell and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings, respectively.
If Carolina is going to piece another defensive backfield together, it had better have some punch on the outside.
Former Clemson cornerback Bashaud Breeland can offer just that.
Breeland is both quick and fast and has shown he can cover the entire field. His great range is also evident in run support. Breeland isn’t afraid to step into the box and lay a hit on anyone.
@knoxbardeen Kid always had speed, agility, etc but struggles to cover WRs. Needs to work in his fundamentals.— David Hamilton (@DavidHamiltonTV) March 6, 2014
With a few tweaks to his technique, Breeland will show off just fine in the Panthers secondary.
Round 4, Pick 28 (128): Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford
Needs: FS, OG, OT, WR
The Carolina Panthers need a ton of help along the offensive line. After adding Cyrus Kouandjio in the first round, the team will select former Stanford offensive tackle Cameron Fleming.
Fleming is a beast of an offensive tackle, measuring 6’5” and tipping the scales at 323 pounds. He’s a superb run-blocker—and let’s face it, the Panthers are going to have to rely on the run in 2014—who can also win most battles against bull-rushing ends.
In addition to his size, Fleming is even smarter than he is big or strong. He graduated with a degree in aeronautics and astronautics and will use that big brain of his to help secure the Panthers’ greatest asset, quarterback Cam Newton.
Seeing as how Newton is nicknamed Superman, Fleming’s degree should come in handy.
Round 5, Pick 28 (168): Kenny Ladler, FS, Vanderbilt
Needs: FS, OG, WR
Before the Carolina secondary can return to a form similar to last season's, a number of working parts are going to have to be brought in, assembled and tested.
According to David Newton and Field Yates of ESPN.com, free safety Charles Godfrey just took a big pay cut after playing just two games last season and not really shining while he was on the field.
The Panthers also signed former Atlanta Falcons free safety Thomas DeCoud, but his 2013 season was forgettable too.
Kenny Ladler, formerly of Vanderbilt, can offer a third option to play safety next to second-year pro Robert Lester. Ladler moves well and can come down into the box when needed. He’s also an around-the-ball kind of free safety who can make plays on the football.
If given some time behind Godfrey and DeCoud, Ladler can ease his way into a position to eventually earn playing time.
Round 6, Pick 28 (204): John Brown, WR, Pittsburg State
Needs: OG, WR, OT, QB
The Carolina Panthers have already taken two offensive tackles, the team’s biggest area of need. Here in the sixth round, general manager Dave Gettleman will double up on his other biggest area of need: the wide receiver position.
Brown, formerly of Pittsburg State, caught 61 passes last season for 1,198 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also averaged 11.5 yards per punt return and 32.4 yards per kick return.
The Panthers currently have a depth chart full of No. 3 and 4 receivers. Brown isn’t ready to step in and be a No. 2 at the professional level, but he is fast enough (4.34 40-yard dash), shifty and can take the top off defenses if put into the proper situations on offense.
Round 7, Pick 10 (225): Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Needs: OG, OT, QB
After Tajh Boyd’s junior season at Clemson, he could have entered the draft and been a top-15 selection. He wasn’t ready to go pro and returned to Clemson for his senior season.
That decision cost Boyd millions of dollars.
Some experts watched Boyd at the Senior Bowl and hated what they saw, condemning him to a wasteland of undrafted quarterbacks.
Packers scout "based on what I'm seeing Tahj Boyd is not draftable"— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) January 20, 2014
But let’s not forget that Boyd had a crazy amount of success at Clemson.
Boyd finished his time at Clemson with 11,904 passing yards and 107 touchdown passes in 40 starts. He also kept the ball for himself to the tune of 1,165 rushing yards and 26 scores on the ground.
His combination of 133 touchdowns (rushing and passing) is an ACC record, as are his 107 passing touchdowns. Boyd also ranks first (or tied for first) in the Clemson record book in 18 categories.
Boyd’s style of play could be compared to Cam Newton’s, which would allow the team to slide Boyd in without terribly altering the playbook if Newton were to ever get injured.
Latest Draft Buzz
- Walter Football provides a healthy list of the players that spoke with, visited or worked out for the Carolina Panthers during the months leading up to the NFL draft.
- Kelvin Benjamin, Marqise Lee and Calvin Pryor are three players whom Jonathan Jones of The Charlotte Observer is reporting to be most frequently linked to Carolina.
- In late April, MMQB's Peter King mentioned Nevada offensive lineman Joel Bitonio as someone with whom head coach Ron Rivera was very impressed.
Combine information courtesy of NFL.com.