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PEMBROKE, NC 28372

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Email: pineneedle@uncp.edu 

NFL Draft Talk Volume XXXVIII

As the NFL draft draws closer and closer here are some questions that are circulating that pertain to prospects and their draft stock as well as their potential and projected impacts at the next level.
What would a perfect draft haul for the Carolina Panthers look like?
     The Panthers are coming off of a 7-9 season in which they got off to a hot start with a 6-2 record before dropping seven-straight games and finishing the year tied for third in the NFC South with the Atlanta Falcons. They have several needs on both sides of the ball with their top needs being along the offensive line and at pass rusher. Here’s what a perfect draft haul for the Panthers might look like barring any trades:
No.16 overall: DE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
     With franchise sack leader Julius Peppers’ retirement early this offseason, the team still needs to address their pass rush despite signing former first-round pick and Superbowl champion Bruce Irvin in free agency. Ferrell led the national champion Tigers in sacks with a career-high 11.5 in his senior season. While he doesn’t possess the ideal bend to dip underneath offensive tackles, he has a great get off, active hand usage, a nasty rip move, a relentless motor and a rare blend of size, speed, and power at 6-5 and 260 pounds. 
No.47 overall: OT Dalton Risner, K-State
     Even though they signed top free agent center Matt Paradis, Carolina still needs to address their offensive line so that they can better protect their franchise quarterback Cam Newton. He is coming off of an injury-riddled 2018 that saw him miss the final two games of the regular season due to a lingering shoulder injury. Risner played both center and right tackle for the Wildcats so his versatility to play inside and outside would help the Panthers on either edge or interior of their porous offensive line from a year ago.
No.77 overall: LB Josiah Tauaefa, UTSA
 
   The Panthers parted ways with franchise stalwart Thomas Davis this offseason as part of their youth movement on the defensive side of the ball leaving a hole at one of their linebacker positions. Tauaefa is a speedy sideline-to-sideline linebacker with excellent lateral quickness and plays with a violent downhill physicality that would fit in perfectly into the spot vacated by Davis and taking into account that the team didn’t address the position in free agency. 
No.100 overall: S Amani Hooker, Iowa
 
   The former Hawkeye plays at his best within 20 yards of the line of scrimmage as more of a box safety where he can snuff out and blow up screens, blitz off the edge on running and passing plays and disrupt plays across the middle. He also possesses great ball skills that he uses to pick off overthrows, tipped passes and make plays on the ball down the deep middle of the field. He’d form a dynamic safety duo with Eric Reid and all him to patrol the backend from his free safety spot.
No.115 overall: WR Jalen Hurd, Baylor
     He is a converted running back who transferred from Tennessee to Baylor for an opportunity to play wide receiver for his last year of eligibility. At 6-4 and 217 pounds, he would’ve been too tall and lean to play running back for most teams in the NFL if he had remained at that position. However, when he gets the ball in hands as a receiver it is almost as if his has muscle memory takes over and he reverts back to his days in the backfield. He runs through the defense in the second level like he’s still a running back and actually runs routes well despite only playing the position for a year.
     Hurd put up 1,155 yards from scrimmage in his senior season for the Bears with 946 coming as a receiver on 69 catches and 209 coming on 48 carries lined up in the backfield. He’d be a great addition to the Panthers offense since they lost their red zone threat receiver Devin Funchess in free agency and Newton could use another big bodied target in the passing game.
No.154 overall: OG Dru Samia, Oklahoma 
     He was a four-year starter for the Sooners at guard and blocked for the last to winners of the Heisman trophy in Baker Mayfield who went No.1 overall to the Cleveland Browns last year and Kyler Murray who is expected to go No.1 overall to the Arizona Cardinals this year. He is an athletic mauler in the run game and possesses the agility to get out in front of runners and pave the way into the second level of the defense.
No.187 overall: QB Tyree Jackson, Buffalo
     He may not still be here this late in the draft, but Jackson would be the perfect back up for Newton. The two have similar builds and playing styles, with the 6-7 former Buffalo quarterback actually being two inches taller than the No.1 overall pick of the 2011 draft. He ran a 4.59 in the 40-yard dash at the Combine which was the same time that Newton ran and fastest that any player that tall since 2006. If he is gone by this time they could go with another Auburn Alum like Newton and select Jarrett Stidham, who also fits their offense but isn't built the same as Jackson or Newton. 

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