Don’t let the 2016 NFL season fool you. This Carolina Panthers team still has a very solid defense and not to mention a former NFL MVP in Cam Newton. This team is a couple offensive pieces away from sitting atop the NFC South division with the chance to make another run at a super bowl title. The Christian McCaffrey first round pick would shock the majority of the NFL world but it wouldn’t shock me. Drafting McCaffrey would alleviate a ton of pressure off of Cam Newton because of the impact he would have in both the run and passing game. McCaffrey is a premier talent and he is worthy of a top 15 selection in the 2017 NFL draft class.
Round One (8): Christian McCaffrey RB, Stanford
- Not every Panthers fan is going to like this pick and that’s fine. However, you have to understand that McCaffrey is the ideal fit along side Cam Newton. McCaffrey would add a different flavor to the already multi-dimensional running scheme. Not only is McCaffrey an elite RB prospect, he will be a nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators when hes lined up out in the slot.
Round Two (40): Taylor Moton OT/OG, Western Michigan
- The Panthers overpaid for Matt Kalil and still have a pretty big hole on the right side. Moton has experience playing guard and tackle but profiles best as a right tackle who can eventually shift over to the left side. Moton is a high-floor offensive line prospect who can have an impact at multiple positions.
Round Two (64): Josh Reynolds WR, Texas A&M
- Josh Reynolds can really stretch the field vertically and this is something the Panthers definitely need with the Ted Ginn departure. Reynolds also has the size the Panthers seem to prioritize in their boundary receivers. Reynolds possesses an extremely large catch radius and uses it to his advantage in the red zone.
Round Three (98): Tedric Thompson S, Colorado
- Tedric Thompson can be a sub-package safety in his first year and then eventually develop into a full time starter. Thompson has some of the best ball skills in the entire class and has the range to handle cover 1 responsibilities.
Round Four (115): Carroll Phillips EDGE, Illinois
- The Panthers have a bunch of veteran pass rushers who could soon be on their way out. Carroll Phillips could rush the passer in a key sub-package role and eventually develop into a full time EDGE rusher somewhere down the road. Who better to learn from than Julius Peppers?
Round Five (152): Cole Hikutini TE, Louisville
- Cole Hikutini is not getting enough love in this very deep tight end class. Hikutini could be the perfect Greg Olsen understudy and still provide an impact in the red zone during his rookie year. Two-three years from now I see Hikutini starting in this league and providing a major impact in the passing game.
Round Six (192): Shaq Griffin CB, UCF
- Height/weight/speed corner who can provide an immediate impact on special teams as a gunner. Griffin has proven to be physical in press and that is something the Panther’s front office has seemed to prioritize over the past few draft classes. (Worley, Bradberry)
Round Seven (233): Chase Roullier IOL, Wyoming
- In the seventh round, I’m looking for a guy who can make the roster. What better way to make a NFL roster than being smart and versatile? The former Wyoming Cowboy has experience playing both guard positions and center. Roullier is also praised for his work ethic and leadership off the field.