NFL reporters Joseph Person and Jonathan Jones offer their projections for each of the Carolina Panthers’ five picks in this week’s NFL draft:
Round 1, Pick 14: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah: A lot of draftniks, including my colleague, don’t think Lotulelei will fall this far. But his heart issue at the combine scared off some teams, and he’s been available in the last two mocks I’ve done for ESPN and Pro Football Writers of America. The Panthers worked out Lotulelei in Utah; they’ll sprint the pick to Roger Goodell if he’s available at 14.
Round 2, Pick 44: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee: The Panthers get a big, fast receiver from Knoxville, just not the one everyone’s been talking about. The 6-foot-4 Hunter is taller than Cordarrelle Patterson and just as fast. And while Patterson is a raw prospect, Hunter arrives much more polished.
Round 4, Pick 108: Bacarri Rambo, S, Georgia: The last time the Panthers drafted a Georgia safety, it worked out pretty well (see Davis, Thomas). Rambo is both a ball-hawk and big hitter, but comes with baggage after missing four games last season for failing multiple drug tests.
Round 5, Pick 148: Chris Faulk, OT, LSU: Definitely a project, considering he left LSU early despite missing last season with a right knee injury. But he’s massive (6-5, 331) and at least somewhat athletic, with a basketball background.
Round 6, Pick 182: David Bass, DE, Missouri Western: Dave Gettleman’s former employer believed you can never have enough defensive lineman. Bass was the all-time sacks leader for the Division II school and looked good at the East-West Shrine Game.
Round 1, Pick 14: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri. I hate to go with the crowd, but it’s the only pick that makes sense. Utah DT Star Lotulelei shouldn’t still be there at No. 14, and I think either the Jets with picks No. 9 and 13 or St. Louis (via a trade up) will take West Virginia WR Tavon Austin. The DT class is deep, but it’s their biggest need so they should go after top talent.
Round 2, Pick 44: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee. Patterson may have the most raw talent in the draft, but that’s also the reason he could drop to No. 44. He won’t be an automatic starter, but he could be polished into the Panthers’ No. 1 receiver in a few years.
Round 4, Pick 108: Shamarko Thomas, S, Syracuse. The Panthers could go with a safety in the second round but there will be plenty of options that could still be available in the fourth. Thomas, though undersized, can get to the ball quickly with a 4.37 40-time.
Round 5, Pick 148: Jeff Baca, G, UCLA. Panthers GM Dave Gettleman considered the offensive line the third-deepest position in the draft, and his Carolina squad could use another guard to push Amini Silatolu entering his second season at guard.
Round 6, Pick 182: Terry Hawthorne, CB, Illinois. The Illini’s top cornerback ran a 4.31 40-yard dash and had four interceptions in the past two seasons at Illinois. The Panthers could use another play-making corner in their secondary.