2018 Panthers mock draft round-up: Could USC's Hurst stay in the - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

2018 Panthers mock draft round-up: Could USC's Hurst stay in the Carolinas?

South Carolina's Hayden Hurst runs drills during South Carolina's NFL football pro day workout Tuesday, March 20, 2018, in Columbia, S.C (AP Photo/Richard Shiro) South Carolina's Hayden Hurst runs drills during South Carolina's NFL football pro day workout Tuesday, March 20, 2018, in Columbia, S.C (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
CHARLOTTE, NC (WIS) -

The Carolina Panthers are gearing up for the 2018 NFL Draft, scheduled to start on Thursday, and the consensus is all over the place as to which position and which player the Panthers are going to go. 

We scoured the internet to try and make sense on how the Panthers attack the draft and below are our results:

Will Brinson of CBS Sports has the Panthers going offensive line:

24. Carolina Panthers

Will Hernandez, G, UTEP: The Panthers are hard to peg with Marty Hurney back in the building. I could see them going either Derrius Guice or D.J. Moore here as well.  

David Newton with ESPN claims the Panthers will target a quarterback late:

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers will draft a quarterback

Which is something they haven't done since selecting Cam Newton with the first overall pick of 2011. It won't be in the first three rounds; it might not be in the first five. But expect the Panthers to take a chance on somebody to develop as a potential future replacement for the 28-year-old Newton. They have only two other quarterbacks on the roster -- Garrett Gilbert and Taylor Heinicke -- the latter of whom was claimed off waivers from the Texans. Claiming Heinicke lessens the sense of urgency to draft a quarterback, but the former undrafted player out of Old Dominion still is a project.

Peter King's MMQB Mock Draft predicts a big-time WR joining the Panthers after Kelvin Benjamin was traded last season:

24. CAROLINA—CALVIN RIDLEY, WR, ALABAMA

There aren’t many national championship-caliber wideouts in an era of plummeting production of first-round receivers in the draft that show the potential of Ridley. Alabama’s not a bombs-away offense, and in his three seasons there, Ridley caught 89, 72 and 63 balls. But he’s not a great deep threat, which is why he’s still hanging around here at 24. Still, the Panthers’ need at the position is huge, and Ridley’s slide past mid-round is a gift for Cam Newton.

Vinnie Iyer with SportingNews also sees Hernandez as the pick at No. 24, but believe WR and CB should be considered as well:

24. Carolina Panthers: Will Hernandez, G, UTEP

Hernandez has had a late push up the draft board, and the Panthers could usehis services after losing left guard Andrew Norwell in free agency. Cornerback and wide receiver will be considerations, too, but this is an easy pick in the event Moore, Ridley and Jackson are all gone.

John Harris with the Washington Post is the first to go with a secondary player, but won't be the last:

24. Carolina Panthers — Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
After losing guard Andrew Norwell to the Jaguars in the offseason, Will Hernandez would make a ton of sense with this pick, but the Panthers can find a guard in a deep interior line group in later rounds. Jackson has top 15 talent and the Panthers have a need at the cornerback position. Jackson becomes even more important for an NFC team that faces Julio Jones, Michael Thomas and Mike Evans six times a year.

NFL.com has several mock drafts up and running and the picks lean secondary but also feature USC TE Hurst:

PICK 24

Jaire Alexander - CB, Louisville

Injuries limited him in 2017, but when you watch him you see quickness, footwork, toughness, and intelligence. Had a tremendous NFL Scouting Combine workout, and showed all that he was fully healthy again. Panthers need a running mate for CB James Bradberry, and Alexander will be happy to return home to Charlotte. -- Charles Davis 3.0

PICK 24

Mike Hughes - CB, UCF

Hughes didn't test all that well at the NFL Scouting Combine, but he plays plenty fast and adds value in the return game. -- Daniel Jeremiah 3.0

PICK 24

Hayden Hurst - TE, South Carolina

With Greg Olsen inching closer to retirement, the Panthers could pick his eventual successor in Round 1. Hurst is a polished route runner with strong hands and big-time playmaking skills that set him apart from other prospects at his position. -- Bucky Brooks 4.0

USA Today's Panthers Wire goes secondary, but instead sees a dynamic safety that the Panthers should not miss:

No. 24: Justin Reid, S, Stanford

The play-making Reid would add a lot of versatility to Carolina’s secondary, as they look to get younger on the defensive back-end. The Panthers seem to have a lot of interest in Reid and jumping on him early to ensure they get him makes sense.

The Charlotte Observer's Jourdan Rodrigue also tabs Reid as the pick, saying that on top of the talent, the intangibles are too hard to pass up:

Round 1, No. 24: Justin Reid, S, Stanford

Stanford safety Justin Reid fills the most immediate need the Panthers currently have: A starting safety to replace Kurt Coleman.

I have written quite a bit about Reid, the versatile safety out of Stanford. He fills the top need on the roster after free agency and is both physically and mentally capable of being a Day-1 starter opposite Mike Adams. He checks the boxes for general manager Marty Hurney and head coach Ron Rivera: Immediate leadership, youth and speed.

It almost makes too much sense.

The Panthers have 15 players under contract in the secondary and only three of those players are 30 or older: Mike Adams, Captain Munnerlyn, and Colin Jones. Munnerlyn is the highest paid player in the secondary for 2018 at just shy of $4 million, according to Spotrac. The majority of the secondary players are either depth or developmental talent and the Panthers could easily use the draft to inject some starting talent where it could be questioned whether they have any. 

While these picks only cover the Panthers' first-round selection, several of the outlets also broke down the Panthers' draft picks throughout the subsequent days. The Panthers also have picks No. 55, No. 85, No. 88, No. 161, No. 197, No. 234, and No. 242. 

Copyright 2018 WIS. All rights reserved.

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