Today is the day.
While mock drafts have been composed exhaustingly over the past few months, tonight marks the start of the 2014 NFL Draft. We’ve done our own mock draft on cover32 that projects the Carolina Panthers to trade out the 28th overall pick, but what are others saying? Several final mocks are out and here’s how they look.
Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller has the Panthers snagging OT Ja’Wuan James (Tennessee). James had been on the outside looking in of many first round projections but can sneak in if too many linemen are selected with earlier picks. Scouts say he can play well on either side of the line, a feature that could be key for the Panthers. If he’s the best tackle available, Dave Gettleman will have a tough choice between defensive back/tackle/wide receiver.
Elsewhere, CBS Sports went a very different route. Will Brinson projects the Panthers will take cornerback Jason Verrett (TCU). While strengthening the receiving corps and offensive line are imperative, the Panthers need big-time help in the secondary as well. Gettleman’s history of taking the best player available might mean good things for Verrett if a slew of receivers and linemen are gone by the 28th pick.
USA Today went back to the tackle formula. They have more faith than a lot of drafts that offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandijo will still be available 28 picks in and that might be the right choice for Gettleman. Despite injury concerns with a less than 100% knee and mediocre combine results, Kouandijo has some of the biggest upside outside of the inevitable top ten guys.
No matter what, it’s clear patience will be huge for the Panthers. Letterman might be set to come on by the time they pick but there will be some very solid talent still available. Will Dave Gettleman make one position a priority or simply take the best player available?
The 2014 NFL Draft begins tonight at 8 ET and can be seen on ESPN or NFL Network.