Any number of scenarios could present themselves in an NFL draft where the Carolina Panthers select 28th in the first round. Here are five, and what to expect if they come to pass:
A run on quarterbacks: The hope among the Panthers’ decision-makers is for a run on quarterbacks in the first round. As Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr and maybe Zach Mettenberger or Jimmy Garoppolo fly off the board to quarterback-needy teams, the players the Panthers are interested in fall closer to 28th. Maybe then one of the receivers or tackles rated as first-rounders by Gettleman and his staff will be available.
A lack of quarterbacks: If quarterback-needy teams pass on them at the top of the draft, they’ll be looking to get into the bottom of the first round to pick one up, ensuring a fifth-year option down the road. If only one or two quarterbacks go by No. 28, Carolina’s phone should be lighting up with calls from teams in the top of the second round looking to trade up, and offering their second-round pick and a fourth- or fifth-rounder.
Addressing greatest need: The Panthers need a tackle, but Gettleman says he won’t reach. If a top-tier tackle isn’t there at 28, he will wait until later rounds to pick up someone to primarily play right tackle. The later it gets, the more likely that lineman will be a combo tackle/guard or guard/center.
Beware the one who falls: Every year there’s one guy who sits in the Radio City Music Hall green room longer than expected. Last year it was Sharrif Floyd, who was supposed to be a top-10 pick but went 23rd to the Vikings. He had an OK rookie season with 2.5 sacks and 19 tackles. If there’s a player who takes such a dramatic fall, don’t feel compelled to take him. There’s a reason teams are passing on him.
The blue goose: The Panthers want to keep their strengths, so don’t be surprised if a pass rusher goes to Carolina in the first two rounds. Despite defensive end or outside linebacker not being a big need, a player at either of those positions could be the best player available at No. 28 or 60.