After waiting longer than anyone in this mock draft, Jaxon from Cat Scratch Reader is up.
With the big QB Josh Freeman still on the board I’m sure my pick will not impress a certain very vocal section of my readers. Freeman leads the poll on my site seeking opinions on who to pick in this scenario. Yet I agree with John Fox; one bad, make that one terrible game by Jake Delhomme doesn’t negate all the big victories he has piloted for this franchise. I also think Delhomme represents the best chance for the Panthers to win in 2009 so I just cannot see spending our highest pick on a player who won’t see the field for at least one or two seasons. Also, though I love his size and athleticism, I’m not sold on Freeman being a can’t-miss prospect as his accuracy issues concern me.
Once I decided to pass on Freeman I moved to the defensive side of the ball, an easy call considering the Panther defense finished 18th in total defense and 20th against the run. With the release of CB Ken Lucas and the public promotion of Richard Marshall the Panthers are need of a nickel CB. The only problem is that the value CB’s at this pick like Alphonso Smith and Jarius Byrd slipped but didn’t slip far enough. I did briefly consider Macho Harris given I think he will be a great nickel corner I also think he might still be there in round 3. I then moved to the defensive line where I found DT’s Jarron Gilbert and Sen’Derrick Marks and DE Paul Kruger the highest rated remaining players.
When I started to compare Gilbert to Marks it quickly became no comparison at all. Gilbert has more upper and lower body strength, he’s taller and faster, more athletic and doesn’t carry the baggage Marks does. Kruger was a much tougher comparison as he has similar speed, athletic ability and game stats. Though I love Krugers’ reputation for hustle and knowledge of the game and the fact he served a two year Mormon mission, I in the end find Gilbert the more NFL-ready prospect.
Several things jumped out at me about Jarron Gilbert and no, I’m not referring to the You Tube video of him jumping out of a pool. First it was the fact he led the nation in tackles for loss with 20.5, indicating this kid has great burst off the line and can anticipate where the runner is going. I also love the 630 lb squat, the 37" vertical leap and the 28 reps on the bench. This guy is going to be hard to push around and keep out of the backfield. Top it off that at 288 lbs he also projects as a DE as well as a DT in a cover 2 system. That versatility will allow him to immediately work into the DL rotation regardless of the down. So whether Gilbert stays at his current weight and fills a role similar to former Panther Mike Rucker at DE or he puts on a little weight and becomes a penetrating force at DT I think Jarron Gilbert has what it takes to contribute to the Panthers defense immediately in 2009. Given the fact John Fox attended his Pro Day I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in Panther blue if he is still there at No. 59.
MTD thoughts: If the Panthers did decide against Freeman should he be available, this is a great pick. Gilbert has the chance to be a top difference maker at the next level.
Mocking the Draft's Top Five Remaining Prospects - QB Josh Freeman, RB Shonn Greene, CB Victor Harris, RB Javon Ringer, WR Derrick Williams