The Pro Football Writers of America held a mock draft Tuesday that shook out pretty well for the Panthers, at least if youre among those who believe they should take a defensive tackle with their first pick.
It was tempting to take Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro, considering the Panthers were set to pick Alabama safety Mark Barron last year before Tampa Bay snatched him two spots before the Panthers were on the clock.
But ultimately, the chance to grab a guy who was a top-three prospect not that long ago was too enticing.
The PFWA mock, which featured a trade (San Francisco and Chicago swapping first-round picks):
1. Kansas City: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
2. Jacksonville: Ziggy Ansah, DE, BYU
3. Oakland: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
4. Philadelphia: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
5. Detroit: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
6. Cleveland: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
7. Arizona: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
8. Buffalo: Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse
9. New York Jets: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
10. Tennessee: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
11. San Diego: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
12. Miami: D.J Hayden, CB, Houston
13. New York Jets: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
14. Carolina: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Rationale: Carolina is interested in trading down and getting one of its later-round picks back. But not if Lotuleleis still on the board when they pick. Panthers first-year GM Dave Gettleman spent 14 years with the Giants, who did pretty well beefing up their D-line seemingly every year in the draft.
Since cutting nose tackle Ron Edwards this offseason, Ron Rivera has talked about the need to find a space-eater up front to keep blockers off Luke Kuechly. Lotulelei does more than occupy blockers, however.
And the Panthers have experience drafting guys with heart issues/scares. They took Oklahoma DE Frank Alexander in the fourth round last year after Alexander was sent home from the combine when doctors thought they had found a hole in his heart. The Panthers checked into it, and it turned out to be a misdiagnosis.
15. New Orleans: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
16. St. Louis: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
17. Pittsburgh: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
18. Dallas: Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
19. New York Giants: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
20. San Francisco (from Chicago): Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
21. Cincinnati: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
22. St. Louis: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
23. Minnesota: Manti Teo, LB, Notre Dame
24. Indianapolis: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
25. Minnesota: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
26. Green Bay: Matt Elam, S, Florida
27. Houston: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
28. Denver: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
29. New England: Robert Woods, WR, USC
30. Atlanta: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
31. Chicago (from San Francisco): D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
32. Baltimore: Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International