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Cat Chronicles is a fan focused website dedicated to discussion concerning the Carolina Panthers. This is an opinion and entertainment site only, which is in no way affiliated with the Carolina Panthers, the NFL, or any sports player or organization. This site is by fans for fans, so please join in the discussionbecause without you football is just a kid's game.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Who Do You Pick As Your Tackle Of The Future?

Don't Mock the Draft, Decide It RD 2:

Well PantherNation, you have spoken and clearly said that we need an Offensive Tackle in Round Two after going with the dynamic Brandin Cooks in Round One.  Now we have to decide who we are going to trust to protect Cam for the next decade.  Below are five worthy candidates that will have a great chance of being available at Pick #60.  Take a careful look at each one and make your vote count.

1.      Billy Turner- At 6’6, 314 lbs., this two-time All-American started 56 out of 57 games in college and has already met with the Panthers.  In 2013, Turner started all 15 games at Left Tackle and gave up exactly zero sacks

2.    Cyrus Kouandjio At 6’7, 322 lbs., this massive man was First-Team All-American playing in the competitive SEC.  Interesting stat is that Cyrus opened holes for eight straight 100-yard games.  Rumors of issues with his knee are causing this First-Round talent to drop to Pick #60

3.    Jack Mewhort- At 6’6, 309 lbs., this All-American out of Ohio State is an intriguing prospect that has shown the ability to play all five positions along the offensive line.  This guy could potentially start at either Tackle or Guard spot for the Panthers on Day One

4.    Joel Bitonio- At 6’4, 302 lbs., this tough nosed Tackle out of Nevada plays with a nasty streak and finishes plays as well as any lineman in the draft.  He is able to play any position on the line which is invaluable on Sundays

5.     Seantrel Henderson- At 6’7, 331 lbs., this Hog Molly looks the part.  He is absolutely massive and shows above average athleticism.  Though off the field troubles and a back surgery makes Henderson a bit of a boom or bust proposition

Now that you know your options PantherNation, go vote and make your voice heard.  And follow me, @PanthersDrafter, on Twitter for ongoing discussions about the Panthers and the upcoming Draft.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Why did we pick Brandin Cooks?

PantherNation has spoken and Brandin Cooks is our choice for Pick #28 in the upcoming Draft on May 8.  The voting was close, and certainly some will stomp their feet wishing we picked their guy.  But all of PantherNation is smarter than anyone of us.  So let’s take a deeper look and see why PantherNation chose Cooks.  We all know that we were 29th in passing last year, and that we lost our deep threat and punt returner in Ted Ginn, Jr.  Oh yea, we also lost our #1 Receiver in Steve Smith.  Cooks would immediately fill all of these roles.  He would be the #1 Receiver by default and with his 4.33 speed, he would be the one to take the top off the defense along with being an explosive punt returner. Still not convinced? True, there are a lot of other good options at 28.  A lot of other players are explosive too.  So why this guy?  Here is why I like the pick:  Brandin Cooks loves both football and what it can mean to his family.  He lost his father when he was only six years old and that had a dramatic impact on him and his siblings. All of this motivates this young man to be the best.  Read this article by the Oregonian to get a better idea of where this kid comes from and why he will be successful.

This 2013 Biletnikoff Award Winner reminds me of a lot of Steve Smith and you can’t argue with a great nickname either. Check out this video to see why the name Mach 7 fits.

This guy will make you get you out of your chair and I’m proud of PantherNation for making this selection.

Now granted, we do have other needs including Offensive Linemen and help in the Secondary.  Thankfully this is a deep draft and there are other Picks left to make. I agree that the Panthers need to invest a high round draft choice in this game-changing playmaker like Brandin Cooks.  Now the next step in letting your voices be heard is to decide what position we select at Pick #60.  You choice PantherNation:  WR, OT, CB or Safety?  Vote today  

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Carolina Panthers' Backyard Ballers: Clemson's Left Tackle Brandon Thomas

This is the first of a series of articles, titled Backyard Ballers, which will spotlight draft prospects from the Carolinas.  As a fan focused site, we too love our hometown boys.  Let's cheer those backyard ballers and follow them in their transition from Carolina colleges to the pros.  We wish they call could become successful Panthers one day, but we know that is unrealistic.  Their path may not go through Charlotte, but they will always be Carolina ballers to us!

Brandon Thomas, Clemson LT. 

We've all heard of Clemson University's Sammy Watkins of course. He's considered the top prospect in the entire nation at wide receiver and in a class replete with talent at the position. He and in-state rival Jadeveon Clowney get all the (non-quarterback) press, and frankly it's unusual for the state of South Carolina to have so much attention on multiple kids heading into the draft.

With so much attention on Watkins, Clemson's offensive guard Brandon Thomas has largely escaped the spotlight and that's exactly why I wanted to do a little digging to see what I could find out about him so I could relay that info to you, our loyal readers.

Also, since the Carolina Panthers are in need of an offensive lineman - or three - there remains a very good possibility that they could write down Thomas' name on a draft card in May, so let's take a look, shall we?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Don't Mock the Draft, Decide It - Phase II. You pick the Receiver

PantherNation has overwhelmingly spoken as to what position you want to see chosen at #28.  That is phase one of the “Don’t Mock The Draft, Decide It…” series by my friends here at Carolina Cat Chronicles.  Now, for phase two, we need to check out five candidates that could be the next Panther star to make memories with Cam Newton.  Below (and in no particular order) are the five that I believe will be there at Pick #28 and a little about why they could be the one.  You decide:

1.      Odell Beckham Jr.- As the Panthers Analyst for, I get more requests for OBJ than anyone else.  This dynamic WR out of LSU is a playmaker with exceptionally large hands and a knack for the big play that would look good in Panther Blue.

2.    Brandin Cooks- Also known as Mach 7, this Biletnikoff Award-Winner looks a lot like #89 to me and would be a shot in the arm to our 29th ranked offense.

3.    Jordan Matthews- At 6’3, 206 lbs., this First Team All-American out of Vanderbilt played against top competition every week and excelled. Jordan may very well be the most pro ready receiver of the group. Very low bust potential.

4.    Allen Robinson- Another big option for Cam.  This All-American out of Penn State set the school’s receptions record with 77 last year.  He is fundamentally sound and makes things look easy.

5.     Devante Adams- This Two-time All-American out of Fresno State is also a big target at 6’2 210 lbs.  An amazing stat for Devante is that he caught a TD in 22 out of the 26 games he played in.

RD 1: Panther Fans on the Clock

Make your voice heard throughout this process; don’t forget to vote.  And you can follow me on twitter @PantherDrafter for ongoing draft discussions.  And as always, Keep Pounding.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Carolina Panthers: Trading Experience for Hope

The Carolina Panthers aren’t known for making a whole lot of noise in the off season. Being the second youngest team in the NFL, they tend to just sit back and prepare for the draft. That’s exactly what was expected in the 2014 off-season, but what Panther fan’s got was the complete opposite.

Carolina ended the 2013/14 season with a winning record and a trip to the playoffs, where they were embarrassed on their home turf against the San Francisco 49ers. It’s a tough loss that will haunt the team and fans forever.
On the bright side, the Panthers finally had a solid foundation to build an excellent football team. However, due to egos, politics, and money, the Panthers successfully got rid of half of their starters, including the man who brought passion and fire to the offense, Steve Smith. Nobody will ever know the truth about what happened behind closed doors, but from a fan’s perspective, it looks as though the Panthers are giving up already on next season. With the export of players exceeding the amount of players imported, the Panthers need to really do their homework and make every pick in the 2014 NFL draft count. The Panthers need to focus on the later round picks to try and sniff out the talent that might be flying under the radar, such as a Michael Campanaro from Wake Forest. 

To DeSean Jackson or Not to Jackson? That is the Carolina Cat Chronicles Question

It’s been a rough offseason for Panther fans.  After a 12-4 finish, resulting in an NFC South Championship, fans’ excitement has been smothered by reality.  GM Dave Gettleman had warned that the Panthers were cap challenged and that righting the ship would not be easy or quick, the high of success caused fans to ignore the roster and contract difficulties facing Carolina.  Fans, however, felt the cooling shock of the first sobering dose when fan favorite, and thought to be untouchable franchise legend, Steve Smith fell victim to the business. Gettleman cut the lifetime Panther in the face of fan outrage without what appeared to be the slightest of remorse or emotion. Then fans saw Mike Mitchell sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ted Ginn, Jr. sign with the Arizona Cardinals, both instrumental in Carolina’s 2013 success.  

People had known it could happen. We should have known it probably would happen, but the drug of success had clouded our vision. The sobering continued as Captain Munnerlyn, a small guy hero to the a small guy franchise, inked a long-term deal in Minnesota. Fans were in such a state of desperation that they were clamoring for Gettleman to sign Brandon Lafell, longtime fan whipping boy, just to give the offense a semblance of stability.  The fact that fans were so disheartened by Lafell’s exit exemplifies their desperation.

Thursday, March 20, 2014 Carolina Panthers Mock 2.0

Hey sports fans! has just updated their player ratings so I thought I would go check out what they have for their latest "Big Board" and their projections for the Carolina Panthers in the draft.

First, here's their top ten - for what it's worth - since several top teams (like the Rams) are shopping their high pick in this deep, deep draft:

1) Houston Texans - Jadaveon Clowney, DE, USC
2) St. Louis Rams - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
3) Jacksonville Jaguars - Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
4) Cleveland Browns - Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
5) Oakland Raiders - Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
6) Atlanta Falcons - Jake Matthews, OT, TAMU
7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State (??)
8) Minnesota Vikings - Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan St.
9) Buffalo Bills - Mike Evans, WR, TAMU
10) Detroit Lions - Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Carolina Fans: Don't Mock the Draft, Decide It!

Panther Nation,

Do you want your voice to be heard when it comes to the draft? Are you worried Dave Gettleman has pulled a Tedd Ginn and dropped the ball? is giving you a chance to voice your opnion to Dave Gettleman and the Carolina Panthers!

General Manager David Gettleman has literally cleaned house of any productive WRs Carolina had on an already thin roster due to free agency, age, and/or salary cap issues. Take your pick, but it still remains a team that is totally bereft of talented targets at WR for Cam to throw to. Yes, sure handed Greg Olson remains, but he's a tight end that always wears his Sunday snowshoes.

The other concern is the retirement of Pro Bowl LT Jordan Gross and the continued issues of RT Byron Bell being an inept pass-blocker. While Bell is a class act and a good run-blocker, that's only half the game. Besides, Tim Tebow is a "class act" and where is HE now?

Prepping for the upcoming 2014 draft, C-cubed will conduct a series of polls for you, the fans, to voice your opinion concerning the position you want Carolina to draft in 2014. Using those results, we'll try to hone-in on some likely targets for that respective round.  So get ready, your fantasy draft just got real.  You'll pick the positions, and the players, and we will then grade that draft pick with an in depth draft profile and assessment.

Our current poll asks: which position we should draft in the first round? - OT, WR, or CB. When the results are in, we will next provide a list 5 players at that particular position that we feel have a decent chance of still being on the draft board when Carolina picks.  You'll then pick the player who the Carolina Panthers should draft.

What position will the Panthers draft 1st?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Steve Smith Tells Charlotte Observer Reporter His Article "Sucked"

He’s right, it sucks.  Cutting Steve Smith, the greatest Panther ever, sucks.  Oh wait, he was talking  Rick Bonnell’s article “Steve Smith release hearkens back to Bobcats’ Gerald Wallace trade?”  Well, that sucked too!

I don’t follow the NBA all that closely.  But reminiscent of Gerald Wallace?  Gerald Wallace...Gerald #$%#$%^ Wallace!

Look, at this point we don’t have any choice as fans but to let this play out.  We’ve been reminded numerous times that Gettleman has a plan and that cutting Smith was necessary.  I’ve been opposed to this move from the beginning, but Gettleman has made the decision to move on and it is what it is.  

Let’s be real though, this isn’t like cutting a journeyman player like Gerald Wallace.  Sure the guy is talented, and I’m not trying to trash on him, but he’s no Steve Smith.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Right or Wrong, Gettleman has Gone Wild

The Yankee did it! Steve Smith’s agent reported yesterday that the organization was parting ways with the Panther legend. Today, the Carolina Panthers officially cut future hall of fame wide receiver Steve Smith.

For the last two weeks, Panther fans have stood in the social media fields ready to storm the Bastille if the Panthers cut Steve Smith. Fans have protested, pleaded, and threatened revolution. The pitchforks were out, and all eyes are now on the king’s manager Dave Gettleman. He did it though.  He cut the legend, and the organization still stands — in tumult, but it still stands.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Carolina Panthers Mock Draft v. 2.0 and 2.1

After Greg Hardy signed his franchise tender, keeping the most dangerous front-seven in the NFL intact for 2014, eyes are turning to the secondary and to the offensive side of the ball.

I'm showing you TWO drafts, and here are the URLs:

My hand-drafted Panthers draft:


Just to be clear, here are our "need" positions in order of need:

1 - left tackle
2 - wide receiver
3 - right tackle
4 - cornerback
5 - wide receiver (yeah, another one)
6 - guard, depending on Edmund Kugbila's status
7 - free safety

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Free Agency Reminds us the NFL is a Young Man's Game

Today is March 11th, 2014, and two major events are merging in a semi-perfect storm.

First, it's the opening of free agency in the NFL. Names will be flying off the list to new teams while others wait. It's only a little bit like draft day because here, it's the "rich" that get what they want, and sometimes what they hadn't bargained for good or bad, and not in reverse order of their finish in the standings.

Oh - the other major event is that it's my 47th birthday. For you fans, your present is the wonderment of the wire whisk churning up league rosters. Good luck trying to keep track of it, even when the season starts. It's hard enough for us who are actually playing close attention to keep up, so my gift to you fans today is chaos.
Welcome to my life!

Every season, the names change but the basics stay the same, pretty much. No, there's no Peyton Manning free agency tour. No "surprise" visits from GMs...Manning doesn't like surprises and, in fact, didn't bother to meet with Pete Carroll on his "surprise" plane trip and visit two years ago.

Really makes you wonder how history might be different if Manning had become a Seahawk. Would that have guaranteed a Broncos' victory last month? I know. Ouch!

The now not-so-new CBA is in its third year as incoming rookies all get paid based solely on their draft position and not the Sam Bradford-style megacontracts that made no sense at all to pay to kids often not old enough to legally drink, but supposedly could be trusted to actually TRY to work after being guaranteed an eight-figure income.

Talk about a recipe for disaster...

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Cat Chronicles: NFC Stout Episode

Tuesday (3/11) @10 PM

Cat Chronicles NFC Stout!

The crew will look into the NFC division at the close of the first day of NFL free agency to see what what the Panthers will have to do to repeat as NFC Champions.  We will talk Steve Smith's status and future in the NFL, Lovie Smith and the Bucs, Clowney and the Falcons, Graham and the Saints and much more related to free agency and the NFL draft.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Carolina Panthers: Think Twice Before Drafting a Wide Receiver

Panther fans know that it is always good to have a Newton on your team.  Carolina has Cam, ESPN has David, and Cat Chronicles has Patrick Newton.  Patrick is a diehard Panther fan and the newest member of the Cat Chronicles Crew.  Make sure to welcome Newton with a comment!

Carolina Panthers: Think Twice Before Drafting a Wide Receiver

With the NFL Combine already behind us, professional teams are starting to evaluate this upcoming draft class. They are trying to determine who will make the cut and benefit the team in the next season.

The Carolina Panthers have several holes or concerns in their roster that need to be addressed. First, let's eliminate the positions that aren’t a concern.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Would the Panthers Be Dumb to Trade for Morris Claiborne?

Could the scouts have gotten it that wrong? Is Morris Claiborne really a bust?  If he were, it would be one of epic proportions--Weeden-esque even!   

The question looms in Dallas though, as the Cowboys may be testing the trade waters for the former #6 overall pick.  Magnate owner/GM Jerry Jones, who just two years ago described Claiborne as “an elite player by the judgment of our scouts and our coaches,” may accept a 3rd round pick for what to this point has been a disappointment.  
jerry jones

Claiborne was the sexy pick of the 2012 draft.  Cornerbacks were in high demand following Patrick Peterson’s rookie success, and Jerry Jones made the flashy move, dealing a 1st and 2nd round pick to the Rams to get him.

Claiborne seemed a sure bet. Draft experts and fan writers fawned over Claiborne’s ability.  He was thought to be NFL ready--a guy good enough to step in and lock down half the field from day one.  One writer described Claiborne as a “better coverage cornerback” than his former LSU teammate, Patrick Peterson, and as having a skillset that ensured his NFL success.  He had those things that just can’t be taught— speed, size, ball skills, instincts, and intangibles.

And then there was the Wonderlic. Claiborne's 4 out of 50 was the lowest test score recorded at the combine since running back Darren Davis in 2000. The score was so low that it near forced everyone to buy his story that he blew off the test.  Claiborne tried to downplay the episode, stating:

“They say it’s an IQ test. I came to the combine for football. I looked at the test, and wasn’t any questions about football. I didn’t see no point in the test. I’m not in school anymore. I didn’t complete it. I only finished 15 or 18 questions.”

Claiborne wasn't the only one who tried to marginalize the test's predictive value.  "Not to minimize his position," Kiper disclaimed," but this isn't a quarterback, this isn't a middle linebacker, this isn't a guy that needs to memorize a dozen reads. He needs to react."  I’m not sure just how indicative Claiborne’s Wonderlic score is of his foot intelligence or actual intelligence, but it is pretty dumb to think that the test have significance. It did cause a lot of people to point and stare anyway. 

The mental side of the game looks as if it has been a bigger hurdle than the Kiper, Jones, and especially Claiborne expected. Defensive back is typically one of the more difficult positions for guys to adjust to when they get to the pros.  Not only are cornerbacks matched against the most opponents most athletic player, when they get burned it stands out. Seahawk secondary coach, Paul Moyer, summarized the difficulties athletic corners often have transitioning to the NFL, stating:

"you can get away with using them. The guys who are gifted physically but maybe weren't great players in college and are a little slower learning - those guys struggle. They're the projects - the track guys who just have speed."

Add an endless string of injuries to the mix, (head, shoulder, wrist, and ankle...make sure you sing this to the head, shoulder, knees, and toes tune) and less than stellar play on the field, and you have a mighty expensive project on your hands.
Photo Credit:  The Boys are Back

Claiborne has underperformed at best to this point, and, at the least, just plain struggled in Monte Kiffin's Tampa 2 defense. Some have suggested that this system isn't suited for Claiborne's skill set, but after two difficult season even those excuses are running thin. Claiborne quickly lost his starting job midway through 2014 after being burned by San Diego Charger rookie wideout, Keenan Allen, who accumulated 80 yards in just 3 catches.

In fairness, Claiborne wasn't the only one who struggled in Dallas last season.  The Cowboys' defense ranked among the league's worst in every statistical category.  Everyone seemed to be a poor fit in Kiffin's old school defense.  

So, would it be dumb for the Carolina Panthers to trade the 92nd pick for   a guy that hasn’t shown a ton of promise yet? No. It wouldn’t be dumb, it would be high value trade that could just pay dividends for the Panthers.

Before we get into the logistics, let’s go ahead and get it out of the way...Don’t front like you didn’t want him bad in 2012! I’ll admit it. He was the guy I was hoping would somehow slip to the Panthers.  I knew it really wasn’t going to happen, but I wanted it to. I was secretly jealous of Cowboy fans experienced when their team made the big draft splash.

The Kuechly selection was a phenomenal pick that demonstrated Hurney’s knack for great 1st round picks and his canny ability to evaluate linebacker talent. Admit it, few saw the Panthers going after a middle linebacker in the 1st round, however. Most of us at the time, myself included, thought Beason was going to be the Panther mainstay in the middle. Hindsight is 20/20 though, and we can all celebrate the Golden Boy, Luke Kuechly and be thankful we weren’t the 0nes that traded the 1st and 2nd for Claiborne.

There are four reasons that the Carolina Panthers should trade a 3rd round pick for Claiborne.

1.      Moyer’s comments above apply particularly well to Claiborne. He was much more of a project than Dallas had expected. He’s had a tough time acclimating to the pros after a college career where he relied more on athleticism than skill. He then landed on a dysfunctional team that needed him to be superstar from the get go. Now this isn’t really too much to expect from a 6th round pick that you just sacrificed 1st and 2nd round picks, but it clearly was a little more than Claiborne could handle. The stage may just have been a little too big for the rookie, and the team too dysfunctional to nourish the rookie’s development.

2.                The Mike Mitchell Model: Claiborne’s situation is slightly reminiscent of Mike Mitchell’s in Oakland. Both were athletically talented guys who still needed development While Mitchell was wasn’t the high profile, top-ten pick Claiborne was, he also found himself on a dysfunctional team that has nourished anything but development for the last decade.  

Carolina is a place where guys like Claiborne can thrive. Mitchell, who has now proven himself as a starter, was also deemed a bust prior to arriving in Carolina. The Panthers have the structure that guys like Mitchell and Claiborne can develop.  The coaching staff coaxes a lot out of a little, and that dominant front seven doesn’t leave the secondary on that proverbial island too often. If the corners do find themselves on that island, they don’t have to stay there too long when the Kraken and Charles Johnson are prowling.

3.                Great Value: A 3rd for the #6th overall, not bad! Given the Panthers needs at other positions, many don’t think they will look to address the secondary until the 3rd round anyway. Will there be a corner at #92 in this year’s draft that has the potential Claiborne does? It’s possible, but not likely.

Claiborne is scheduled to make about 4.35 million dollars this year.  Now assuming the Panthers would have to pick up his contract that would be a significant amount against the cap, and we all know the Panthers are “cap challenged.”  Claiborne only has two years left on his contract, so the bet wouldn’t be long term.  The Panthers could essentially land a top talent for 3rd round money.

4.                Wouldn’t have to be a superstar:  Even if Claiborne didn’t turn out to be the next Patrick Peterson, he has the tools to be serviceable. I know everyone loved how great Captain Munnerlyn played last year, but he is 5’8.  Can you really match this guy up against a big bodied, fast receiver?  Do you want to see Melvin White on that island against Julio Jones or Calvin Johnson (yes, we play Detroit next year)?  Would it be better to field a 3rd round draft pick, who will have a guaranteed learning curve?  Claiborne has the tools to be effective, particularly in man coverage.  He has the size and speed to get it done if supported by a strong defense.  He wouldn’t need to be a superstar, he would just need to contribute.  Carolina’s front seven may help him look like one though, they did it for Munnerlyn anyway.

It all comes back to the Wonderlic I guess in the end.  Did Claiborne get caught up in the hype and glamor of 2012 draft and simply blow off the Wonderlic test entirely, or is he functionally illiterate?  I’m not sure if it should qualify as a smart trade for the Panthers, but you would think it would have to be a least a 15 out of 50 type move.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Carolina Panthers Draft Gets More Complicated

Here is the first post from the newest member of the crew, writer Ken Dye has joined our ranks. Many of you may already be familiar with Ken's work, but for those of you who are not, you are in for a treat. Please show your support for Ken and comment on his first official piece as the newest writer.  

About a month ago, I wrote a post (on another website) about how difficult it would be to re-sign DE Greg Hardy with the then-current figures.

Since that day, the salary cap has been substantially raised - to $133 million. RB Jonathan Stewart's contract has been restructured so he doesn't count $18 million against it, and stalwart LT Jordan Gross has retired.

My, how the times are changin'.

Pre-Combine, I was looking at Penn State WR Allen Robinson as the most likely target for David Gettleman at 26th overall. A poor 40 yard dash time (4.6) has dampened the excitement over him a bit, although he showed his good vertical leap. That 40-time (extremely overrated) still carries some weight, however. It can be a bit of a measuring stick and this time it shows Robinson might face some difficulty running after the catch against the NFL's much quicker, faster guys. I think he'll succeed, but it appears his ceiling just got lowered considerably.

Indeed, in my Mock 1.0 (pre-combine, with editor of, Josh Adler), I had Robinson falling to the Panthers. Now it looks as if he might fall out of the first round and into the first half of the second at best, but there's still time for analysis. Not to mention the fact that there are always at least two pretty big surprises each year in the first round (Bruce Irvin to Seattle, anyone?) 
Now with the retirement of Jordan Gross, the offensive tackle position in Charlotte looks very similar to that of the Baltimore Ravens or even the Miami Dolphins. The Ravens are likely letting OT Eugene Monroe walk in free agency, and the 'fins punk'd themselves out of at least two offensive linemen in Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin.

Thankfully, there are several top LT-types and quite a deep class of RT/developmental LT types in this class that will probably be around at 26th without "reaching" much.

We know David Gettleman loves his "Hog Mollies," and Jordan's retirement (and Byron Bell's continued struggles) means the team will have to spend draft picks just to stand still. 

With Gettleman's history in mind and the fact that this is also a very deep WR class means he could, and very well might, just draft that big, slobbering tackle to protect The Franchise, Cam Newton, before looking for any shiny new toys for him on the outside in round two and beyond.

These days, I'm looking for the team to re-sign 26 yr old DE Greg Hardy and another young player in safety Mike Mitchell. Mitchell was my pre-season pick for "pleasant surprise of the year" last summer and I have to say I
Greg Hardythink that one worked out just as planned. He's a young, physical player with incredible athletic talents and evolved into an "enforcer" on the back end of the defense last year - something the Panthers otherwise lacked.

So what are the Panthers' biggest NEEDS?

First and foremost, I think they have to replace Jordan Gross. Depth along the entire offensive line is thin as it is and you MUST protect Cam's blind side. Top priority. I like the kid outta Tennessee, Antonio Richardson, and his upside potential. However, if Virginia's Morgan Moses slips this far, he could be the guy. Richardson seems to be rising up the board, slowly but surely.

We'll see.

I think that second round is where we'll look for a WR, if one is around with a high enough grade to take near the end of the second round. Perhaps Richardson is still around here. If so, I can see Gettleman going LT, RT and putting Byron Bell on the bench as the first reserve, or have one of the rookies take over that starting gig as he learns the NFL.

"Bookend" offensive tackles are coveted by all teams, and of course free agency will change the recipe, but Gettleman is a "best available" draft picker. 
Watch out, Branden Albert. 

Cornerback is yet another "need" area for Carolina. Since they released Chris Gamble before the 2013 season, nobody has really stepped up and made a case to say "I AM the #1 corner." The problem is that after the top two corners, there's quite a drop-off in talent and both should be long gone by #28. 

The Panthers could draft more than one guy at each of those three positions - OT, WR, and CB...although likely only 1 corner will be drafted. They have depth, just not a star there.

So how might a Panthers' mock draft look like? This won't be accurate I'm sure - too many things to happen between now and May 8th - but if the draft were held today?

1 (28) Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee

2 (60) Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida 

3 (92) Mike Davis, WR, Texas

4 (102) Billy Turner, OT, North Dakota St.

5 (156) Marcel Jensen, TE, Fresno St.

6 (188) Kadeem Edwards, OG, Tennessee State

7 (203) Ryan Grant, WR, Tulane