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2017 NFL mock draft: Carolina Panthers choose Zay Jones

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The writers’ mock draft finishes off with the productive East Carolina wide receiver.

NCAA Football: Connecticut at East Carolina James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Here we are at the conclusion of the 11th annual SB Nation NFL writers’ mock draft. Before we get to the pick, thanks for following along as we’ve worked through two rounds of the 2017 NFL draft. And big thanks to not only the writers and editors of SB Nation’s NFL team sites that make this whole thing possible, but also the copy editors who have to edit all these posts.

Bringing us home with the final pick is the Carolina Panthers and Cat Scratch Reader. This is the third pick in the first two rounds for Carolina. In this mock they’ve gotten tight end O.J. Howard and cornerback Tre’Davious White. If it were me, I’d be choosing between a running back and a wide receiver with speed.

However, it’s not up to me. It’s up to Jaxon of CSR, who is once again making the pick for the Panthers.

64. Carolina Panthers: Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina

Jaxon: The Panthers lost wide receivers Ted Ginn and Philly Brown in free agency, and so they have some depth issues at the position. Jones may not have Ginn’s speed, but he does have something the Panthers really need. He brings reliable hands the Panthers currently only get from tight end Greg Olsen. Honestly I’m surprised Jones is still available at No. 64. He’s a high-character, local kid with NFL pedigree, a Ron Rivera-type player who will plug right into the Panthers’ locker room spirit. I see Jones becoming an effective wide receiver who can run any route and make plays on a consistent basis.

My runner-up pick was running back Alvin Kamara. It was a very tough choice but I also see some fine running back prospects left on the board. I’m thinking they could grab one in the third.

I feel like that with tight end O.J. Howard in the first round and then cornerback Tre’Davious White in the second, I have added some playmakers to the Panthers roster. Two pairs of reliable hands for Cam Newton to throw to, plus a dynamic player to return kicks.

Analysis: As mentioned above, this pick for me would have been a speed wide receiver or a running back. Although I do like the pick of Jones, it would have been hard for me to pass on Kamara of Tennessee. For the same reasons the Panthers seem poised to take Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey of Stanford, they should be comfortable with a player like Kamara in the second round. He’s a good all-around back who is comfortable split out as a receiver.

Dan's top five players remaining

  • 26. Tim Williams, LB, Alabama
  • 41. Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee
  • 50. Curtis Samuel, RB/WR, Ohio State
  • 53. Ryan Anderson, LB, Alabama
  • 55. Raekwon McMillan, MLB, Ohio State

Panthers picks:

  • 1-8: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
  • 2-40: Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
  • 2-64: Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina

Since another pick doesn’t have to be teased in the mock draft, here are some final thoughts:

- It’s not really a surprise players like Tim Williams and Joe Mixon weren’t picked in this mock draft because of their off-field issues. I still anticipate both getting picked in the first two rounds this week.

- Every year in this mock draft, linebackers and running backs almost always end up being the best players available. It’s easy to devalue both positions. Players like Anderson and McMillan may not have a lot of value to some because they don’t get after the passer frequently.

- I thought the best drafts this year were from Baltimore (Mike Williams and Carl Lawson) and Indianapolis (Jonathan Allen and Sidney Jones).

Poll

What grade do you give the Panthers for picking Jones?

This poll is closed

  • 47%
    A
    (253 votes)
  • 32%
    B
    (175 votes)
  • 10%
    C
    (55 votes)
  • 3%
    D
    (16 votes)
  • 6%
    F
    (34 votes)
533 votes total Vote Now