Round 1, Pick No. 16: Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma
Whether some Panthers fans want to admit it or not, this entire franchise still revolves around Cam Newton. Now, Cam's shoulder was messed up during the second half of last season, and that was evident by how poorly the team closed out the year. But Cam isn't going anywhere, so if you want him to stay as heathy as possible, you better help out that offensive line.
Taylor Moton is likely going to stay at left tackle, but the Panthers need a right tackle better than Daryl Williams. Ford's natural position is that right tackle spot, and he'd be a perfect power OT to compliment the Panthers' run game.
Round 2, Pick No. 47: Chris Lindstrom, iOL, Boston College
The Panthers needed a right tackle upgrade enough to use my first selection on the position and yet right tackle wasn't even the worst position on the offensive line for them last year. Greg Van Roten was not great last year as the left guard, earning just a 59.8 PFF grade for the season. It's a stretch to believe Lindstrom will be available this last in the second round, but if he is, I don't care if the first pick was already an offensive lineman, double up and don't let Cam die in the pocket -- or on the run since Lindstrom is an athletic interior lineman.
Round 3, Pick No. 78: JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford
Look, I like D.J. Moore, I like Curtis Samuel and we can even throw in Christian McCaffrey into that receiving weapons category. But the Panthers don't have that big, red zone, short yardage guy to get it done at the receiver position. No wide receiver in college football was more efficient and consistent when converting in the red zone and on short yardage than Arcega-Whiteside was in 2018. He is a missing piece this Panthers offense needs.
Round 3, Pick No. 101: Justin Hollins, EDGE, Oregon
I don't think the Bruce Irvin experiment will last much longer in Carolina, and because of that the Panthers could very well be using their first pick in the draft on an edge rusher. But I still think, in this mock draft, from the way the board fell, the three players I picked before this were the right choices. That said, if they can scoop up a guy like Hollins later on in Day 2, that would make those picks look even better.
Jalen Jelks was suppose to be Oregon's premiere pass rusher, but Hollins ended up out playing him in 2018. At 6-foot-6, 245 pounds, Hollins shows surprising flexibility, speed rush and bend for a man his size.
Round 4, Pick No. 116: Daniel Wise, iDL, Kansas
Dontari Poe isn't going anywhere this year, but he might next year. Depending on how he performs, the Panther can can cut him one year before his deal ends next offseason and take just a $3M cap hit while saving $10M. Now, if he plays well, great, not a problem. I'm just saying that the Panthers can put themselves in position to have the power to make some moves next offseason, if things don't go as planned.
Wise was a monster during East-West Shrine Week. He was taking on double teams, beating offensive lineman off the snap and was overall one of the best players there. I was very impressed. He would, at the very least, be a very solid rotational player in his first year.
Round 5, Pick No. 155: Sheldrick Redwine, S, Miami
The Panthers need a safety. They could probably afford to take one earlier than this, if they want to, but if they don't, picking up a coverage safety like Redwine would be the right move. Eric Reid is going to man the strong safety role, but a guy like Redwine, who is a converted corner, can help play the back end in coverage.
Round 6, Pick No. 189: Deshaun Davis, LB, Auburn
For the first time in a very long time, Thomas Davis will not be a part of the Carolina Panthers. They have Shaq Thompson still, which is why linebackers next to Luke Kuechly aren't more of a priority, but I do think they need some fresh blood. Davis, as a player and person, just seems like a player Ron Rivera and this Panthers team would love to get their hands on late. He's limited athletically, but he's a hard worker and is very smart for a linebacker. He'd fit in great in that LB room. His best fit in the NFL might be at the SAM linebacker position, and that's the position of greatest need in Carolina when it comes to their linebacker group.