By Cody Strahm @CodyJStrahm on May 5, 2014
The Carolina Panthers need the 2014 NFL Draft more than most teams. Gaping holes along the offensive line and at receiver have raised serious doubts about the team's ability to defend its NFC South title in 2014. See who the Panthers nab in this final seven-round mock draft, which was conducted on First-pick.com's mock draft simulator.
The Panthers may have the weakest wide receiver corps in the league. They actually, somehow, might be worse off along the offensive line, but USC's Marqise Lee was far and away a superior prospect when compared to any of the tackles available. Lee has the explosiveness and route-running expertise to emerge as a legitimate No. 1 receiver in Carolina.
Ideally, the Panthers would be able to pick up a franchise left tackle in the first round, especially considering it's a much deeper class at receiver than tackle. But the board dictated patience at tackle and aggressiveness at receiver. Despite an underwhelming final season in Knoxville, Antonio Richardson has potential at either tackle spot.
The Panthers double down at receiver in this mock, which isn't a bad idea considering they lost Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn Jr. in free agency. Matthews is a polarizing prospect, but it's hard to find much downside to swooping him up near the end of the second day. He's a tough possession type with a high ceiling and floor.
The Panthers also double down at tackle with Michigan's Michael Schofiled. Although Schofield could potentially step in at right tackle for the Panthers, he's suited for a move inside to guard as well, which is incidentally also a pressing need for the club.
With Captain Munnerlyn's departure in free agency, the Panthers are a bit thin at cornerback. Liberty's Walk Aikens, a small-school prospect with impressive size and press coverage effectiveness, could help bolster the position.
Some pundits consider Minnesota's Brock Vereen, brother of Patriots running back Shane Vereen, a third-round pick. Needless to say, I was surprised to see him still available in the sixth round. Vereen's speed and, subsequently, his range make him a high-upside pick this late in the draft.
Boseko Lokombo of Oregon possesses the athleticism to strengthen Carolina's depth at linebacker while also potentially becoming a standout on special teams.
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