The Carolina Panthers made the playoffs for a second consecutive season under Ron Rivera in 2014. Granted, they got there in significantly less impressive fashion than in 2013, when they were 12-4, but last year's 7-8-1 outfit overcame a fair amount of adversity to win the NFC South, then beat the Arizona Cardinals at home in the wild card round before eventually bowing out to conference champion Seattle.
Carolina has some work to do to improve enough to stay on top of the division, and that includes addressing their offensive line. That's precisely what lead blogger Jaxon from Cat Scratch Reader is doing with the No. 25 overall pick in our 2015 NFL mock draft.
25. Panthers: Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami
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Jaxon: The sudden retirement of Jordan Gross last offseason created a hole the Panthers were unable to fill in 2014, resulting in their struggles to protect Cam Newton’s blind side. Though the Panthers add a couple free agent tackles this offseason, none are a long-term solution. The Panthers simply must add some talent to the group via the draft, and Flowers would be a huge addition. Although Flowers has some flaws in his game, he has the size, strength and footwork to keep him at left tackle. He’s also just the type of mauler that would go a long way in helping the run game.
I was very tempted to select Dorial Green-Beckham, but I just couldn’t pick a guy I think the Panthers will pass on. Breshad Perriman is another receiver on the board that caused me pause. There are also a couple defensive tackles on the board that were hard to pass up: Jordan Phillips and Carl Davis. I’m actually hoping one of those players slip to No. 57 somehow (or Perriman). I also love Arik Armstead, but I’m afraid he’s better suited as a 3-4 end.
The Panthers should feel lucky to land a player like Flowers this late in the first round, which happens only because the draft is deep at tackle. Yet it’s not so deep to rely on player sliding to them in the second or third round. I think they hoped for that last year, but we saw how that worked out. I also wouldn’t count out the idea of selecting another tackle in the draft, maybe a mid-to-late-round sleeper, as that is how thin the Panthers are at the position.
Dan Kadar, SBNation.com: At this point, it’s hard to find a mock draft with the Panthers not taking an offensive tackle. There is arguably no bigger need for any team in all the NFL than the Panthers and an offensive tackle. Even though Flowers would be the seventh tackle taken, it’s a necessary choice. Of the tackles left, he’s the last high-level one on the board. Flowers is a gritty blocker who can maul defenders. He may not handle speed rushers the best, but he’s a starting-caliber player as a rookie.
Dan's top 5 players remaining
- 13. Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
- 17. Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma
- 19. Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA
- 20. Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon
- 24. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
All picks from this mock draft
- 1-25: Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami
- 2-57: (coming April 16)
Coming up next in our mock draft, at noon (ET): the No. 26 overall pick of the Baltimore Ravens, made by our friends over at Baltimore Beatdown.