Representing the Carolina Panthers, citadelchief with the 40th pick in Arrowhead Pride's 2012 NFL mock draft...
The Panthers came into this draft with a number of holes to address. WR, DT, OLB, CB, OG, OT, DE, MLB, S, really there isn't a position besides QB and RB that they couldn't use a little help. Whether it be a lack of talent or injury problems, this Carolina team has concerns. However, Cam Newton did give them a great piece to build around on offense, and the addition of Melvin Ingram potentially does the same thing on defense.
Cam Newton gives the Panthers a big time scoring threat at any time and Steve Smith has been signed on a contract that will see him through the end of his career, so that limits the need for a WR. The Panthers O-line was middle of the pack, but with the natural progression of Newton and the younger O-linemen, the need isn't as great here either.
However, there are still some very pressing needs on the defensive side of the ball. In the 1st rd, the Panthers solidified their pass rush with that addition of Melvin Ingram. Now it's time to build up the run defense.
Thompson isn't as highly rated as Kendall Reyes, who is still on the board, but he has a better frame to serve as an anchoring DT which is what the Panthers really need at this point. Right now the Panthers have a ton of DTs that really don't offer much. Sione Fua and Ron Edwards are really their top 2 guys, and neither has shown they can be an anchor. Thompson will come in and relegate Edwards to a backup and mentor role. There won't be instant dividends, but it does provide a base for Ron Rivera to work with.
As with Ingram, Thompson also offers the potential to allow the Panthers to transition to the 3-4 defense that Rivera ran in San Diego. Nicknamed "Yams" for the size of his thighs, at 6-2, 314, Thompson has a frame that will allow him to add some weight, or he could move to the outside and play the 3-4 DE. It will certainly take coaching...but this is another reason why Thompson makes sense. He is very coachable and is just as impressive in the classroom as he is on the field, earning 2010 Academic Honor Roll.
Add to this his phenomenal strength. Thompson blew coaches and scouts away with his power:
Bench Press (single rep) - 450 lbs
Bench Press (225) - 36 reps (34 at Combine)
Squat - 615 lbs
Power Cleans - 370 lbs
Thompson is considered one of the more NFL-ready prospects of the draft, though he isn't considered to have much room for development. Teams often gameplanned away from Thompson, so he doesn't have the stats, but you can see how much attention he commands when you watch the game film.
There will be concerns this season with the Panthers having a very young defensive line. However, it's also going to be a low pressure situation. The fans, media, and even the front office understand that they are rebuilding and that it will take time. And, there is a lot of experience behind this line at the LB spots. Right now the Panthers have to be looking towards the future, and this is a good start on the defensive side of the ball.
Previously (with approval results)...
9. Carolina Panthers - South Carolina LB/DE Melvin Ingram (Forgot to do a poll)
40. Carolina Panthers - Clemson DT Brandon Thompson