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2018 NFL mock draft: James Washington can do wonders for the Panthers’ offense

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The Panthers are an up-and-down franchise, but the Oklahoma State wide receiver could help keep them in the playoffs.

NCAA Football: Tulsa at Oklahoma State Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Since 2012, the Carolina Panthers have been a yo-yo franchise. They’ll have a losing season then a winning season, then back to a losing season.

After going 6-10 in 2016, the Panthers bounced back in 2017 and finished 11-5 before losing in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs to New Orleans. After the season, highly regarded defensive coordinator Steve Wilks left to become the head coach in Arizona.

If the Panthers want to stop the yo-yoing, they’ll have to hit on some pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Playing the role of Panthers general manager Marty Hurney for us in the SB Nation NFL writers’ mock draft is Bradley Smith of Cat Scratch Reader.

24. Carolina Panthers: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

Smith: The Panthers had several options to choose from to fill their needs on both sides of the ball. Defensive backs Josh Jackson and Justin Reid were still available. So, too, were wide receivers Christian Kirk and D.J. Moore. I was tempted to take Reid here, but I picked Washington for two reasons. First, I believe Marty Hurney will use the No. 24 pick on a wide receiver. Second, Washington is the best fit for Norv Turner’s offense because he excels at getting vertical and has great ball skills. The Panthers have added some veteran depth already with the signing of Jarius Wright and their trade for Torrey Smith, but that’s not enough to makeover their biggest weakness from last season. Washington should be the final piece to improve Cam Newton’s wide receiver corps for 2018.

Analysis: This is an interesting choice. It’s true the Panthers need to find either a safety or a wide receiver in the first round of the draft. They’re arguably the team’s two biggest needs. My choice would have been Moore over Washington. There’s no disputing Washington is the better vertical route runner. However, Moore offers a more well-rounded game, and is the better route runner overall. The Panthers already brought in a vertical player in Torrey Smith as well. Still, either player should be able to put up big yards in Carolina.

Dan Kadar’s top five players remaining

  • 20. Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
  • 21. Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
  • 22. Will Hernandez, G, UTEP
  • 23. Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
  • 24. Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

Our next pick of the day is coming up at 11 a.m. ET with Jimmy Morris of Music City Miracles making the pick for the Tennessee Titans.

Poll

What grade do you give the pick of James Washington by the Carolina Panthers?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    A
    (79 votes)
  • 30%
    B
    (248 votes)
  • 35%
    C
    (289 votes)
  • 14%
    D
    (121 votes)
  • 10%
    F
    (85 votes)
822 votes total Vote Now