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Thursday, April 17, 2014
Analyzing Kiper Mock 4.0: Panthers

By David Newton

The Carolina Panthers have the 28th pick in the 2014 NFL draft after finishing last season with a 12-4 record. Their primary needs remain offensive tackle and wide receiver after free agency, with tackle holding a slight edge.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest mock draft is out on ESPN Insider today. He picks the top two rounds for each team, and his latest for the Panthers are players whose stock are on the rise.

In the first round, Kiper has Carolina taking Virginia tackle Morgan Moses. The Panthers have worked out the 6-foot-6, 314-pounder, but I'm not sold he's worth a first-round pick. Many have him at right tackle instead of left, which would mean the Panthers are convinced Byron Bell will be Jordan Gross' replacement on the left side.

I'm not.

I was more partial to Kiper's pick of Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio in his last mock draft. Kouandjio is considered a risk because of medical reports on his knees, but this reminds me more of last year when the Panthers were lucky enough to have defensive tackle Star Lotulelei fall to No. 14 because of sketchy medical reports.

It was a steal.

Kiper has dropped Kouandjio all the way to Cincinnati in the second round, No. 55 overall.

In the second round, Kiper has Carolina taking Oregon wide receiver Josh Huff at No. 60. This is a change from LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry in his last mock draft.

The Panthers worked out Landry and teammate Odell Beckham Jr. earlier this week in Baton Rouge, La. I could see them taking Landry if they're lucky enough to have him fall that far. But I'm going to stick with the Crimson Tide in consecutive rounds and say they go with wide receiver Kevin Norwood.

He has the size at 6-2, 198 that Carolina needs at that position. He comes from a ball-control offensive scheme similar to what offensive coordinator Mike Shula runs. He's an excellent blocker and does more with his skills than many rated above him.

Can you say underrated?

Consider Norwood is several inches taller than Huff (5-11) or Landry (6-0) and has posted a respectable 4.48 in the 40-yard dash. He's the kind of football player general manager Dave Gettleman would love.