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Thursday, April 24, 2014
Analyzing McShay mock: Panthers

By David Newton

The Carolina Panthers have the 28th pick of the May 8-10 NFL draft after finishing last season with a 12-4 record. General manager Dave Gettleman remains adamant he will take the best player available even though offensive tackle and wide receiver are huge needs.

The latest first-round picks by ESPN analyst Todd McShay are out on Insider Insider. You probably won't be surprised by his pick for Carolina, but you will be surprised by mine.

McShay went with the safe pick in Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin. At 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, he would be the big receiver the Panthers desperately need.

I'm tired of the safe picks after saying Carolina will take a tackle or wide receiver since this process began. I'm going under the theory that Gettleman has gone against the norm throughout most of free agency, releasing wide receiver Steve Smith and letting the team's next three receivers go to other teams.

Why not continue?

So I'm going with a cornerback, either Virginia Tech's Kyle Fuller, Ohio State's Bradley Roby or Texas Christian's Jason Verrett. What keeps getting overlooked because of the highly-publicized need at tackle and wide receiver is the need for a shutdown corner.

As I've written before, the biggest difference between the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks and Panthers last season was at cornerback. If Carolina can shore up the secondary to go with what arguably is the league's best front seven, the offense won't have to score a lot of points.

OK, so Gettleman likes building from the inside out with what he calls "hog mollies.''

But the Panthers haven't drafted a shutdown cornerback since Chris Gamble went with the 28th pick -- notice the similarity here? -- in the 2004 draft. It may be time.