NFL mock draft, Carolina Panthers

A certain buzz is floating its way around the Carolina Panthers this off season. The front office started working to better the team as soon as the regular season was over. When asked about improving the offense, specifically adding another playmaker to complement Steve Smith, Head Coach Jon Fox commented that we may need to add more than one.

So far the Panther’s off season has been exciting. They let go of unproductive players, and added WR’s Muhsin Muhammad from the Bears and D.J. Hackett from the Seahawks, as well as RB LaBrandon Toefield from the Jacksonville Jaguars. In addition, the Panthers strengthened both offensive and defensive lines with several additions at guard and defensive tackle. What really makes this off season look promising so far though: the Panthers didn’t spend two million on David Carr.

These additions have brought in promising talent, but there are still holes that need to be filled on the Panthers roster. The Panthers will look to plug these holes through the upcoming NFL Draft on April 26th.

An NFL Draft is a difficult thing to predict, because team needs don’t always translate to the value for the pick on the board. If a team doesn’t like they’re position, they can try to package later round picks or players to move up in the draft. This goes vice versa as well as teams can look to gain additional draft picks by moving down in the draft.

The Panthers added an additional third round pick by trading DT Kris Jenkins to the NY Jets. Assuming no trades happen, here is what would be an ideal first five rounds for the Panthers:

var uslide_show_id = “d8079bac-9a83-4375-a434-7708667f98fb”;var slideshowwidth = “230”;var linktext = “”;Round 1:Ryan Clady, OT Boise StateThe Panthers most pressing need this year is at Offensive Tackle. Last year the line looked sluggish, and couldn’t open any running lanes for our backs. They also did a poor job protecting the QB. Clady is a perfect fit for the Panthers, a big, athletic mauler who would excel in a zone-blocking scheme

Round 2:Dre Moore, DT/DE MarylandOffseason departures Kris Jenkins and Kendal Moorhead left the Panthers with a lack of depth at Defensive line. Replacing these two is a must, and a dominate linemen that can play both positions makes sense.

Round 3a:Matt Forte, RB TulaneNFL running backs work in tandems. The panthers have a promising young back in Deangelo Williams, and a power-runner like Forte would compliment Williams’s quick, outside style. Forte ran for over 2,000 yards last season.

Round 3b:Tom Zbikowski, S Notre DameChris Harris is a legitimate starter at safety, but he needs help on the weak side and in run coverage. Zbikowski is a mean, hard-hitting safety who could contribute immediately on special teams and start at free safety if Terrence Holt flops.

Round 4:Marcus Harrison, DT ArkansasAgain adding depth along the D-line. Big body and a runstuffer, with some decent pass rush abilities as well.

Round 5:Owen Schmitt, FB West VirginiaBlocked for Steve Slaton, along with Forte would bring a new attitude to our running game. Mean blocker, and is nearly unstoppable at gaining 2-3 yards. Think Mike Alstott reincarnate.