Is the Gardner hype train gaining steam?
The Panthers potentially using their No. 6 overall draft pick on Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner may not sound as farfetched as I once thought.
Last week I was a little surprised when NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah sent Gardner to the Panthers. After investing their first rounder in South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn last season, I just don’t see the pick as a wise use of a first rounder, particularly with glaring needs at offensive line and quarterback.
But Jeremiah isn’t the only one who sees the Panthers taking a cornerback in the first round for the second straight year.
Bucky Brooks, NFL.com: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
This week NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks also sent Gardner to the Panthers at six. Here’s what Brooks had to say about his rationale:
Taking an offensive tackle could be the initial plan here, but in this scenario, the cornerback greatly outranks any OT left on the board. Gardner teams with last year’s first-round pick, Jaycee Horn, to give the Panthers a dynamic duo on the island.
In Brooks’ mock, Mississippi State’s Charles Cross went No. 5 to the Giants while N.C. State’s Ikem Ekwonu went No. 4 to the Jets. Last week we noted that ESPN’s Mel Kiper sent Cross to the Panthers in his Mock Draft 1.0.
The value pick rationale is always an intriguing one. If there’s a dude on the board who is much better at his job than other guys then that pick could be a massive boost to your franchise. In Brooks’ mock, that rationale plays out when Cross and Ekwonu are already off the board.
However, the Panthers will not draft a player again until the fourth round. They have no room for error in their first round selection and that’s another reason I’m hesitant on a cornerback.
Josh Edwards, CBS: Charles Cross, LT, Mississippi State
Over at CBS, writer Josh Edwards has the Panthers bolstering their offensive line by taking Mississippi State’s Cross, a popular pick over several recent mocks.
Here’s what CBS wrote about the pick:
Looking back five years from now, it would not surprise me if Cross was the best lineman to come out of this class. He is just a sophomore and has shown steady improvement. He is reverse Ikem Ekwonu in the sense that Cross is already good in pass protection but still needs some work on run blocking.
Very interesting commentary from Edwards. The Panthers didn’t struggle as much in their run game this season, mostly middling around the middle of the NFL rankings in rush yards per game. And that was mostly with rookie Chubba Hubbard carrying the ball. Their real achilles heel was in the pass game, which finished 29th in the NFL at 190 pass yards per game. It seems to make sense in nabbing a pass protector who can protect (whoever) for years to come.