The Carolina Panthers almost always select Missouri Tigers defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson in 2013 NFL Mock Draft, and it does seem like the wisest choice on paper. My buddy Josh Sanchez over at the FanSided.com main page also had the Panthers taking Sheldon Richardson with the 14th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. You can view the full mock here.
As Sanchez notes, face-of-the-franchise Steve Smith has been pressing publicly for the Panthers to nab Richardson with their first-round choice. The Panthers have so many needs that going the best-available route is optimal, and Richardson most likely fits that bill. I would rather have him than the inconsistent Cordarrelle Patterson, and the only wide receiver I would want the Panthers to get is my top guy Keenan Allen (he is awesome).
The Panthers could also scoop up one of the two elite guards, add a cornerback, or draft Kenny Vaccaro at safety, and I would actually rather have Vaccaro (the consensus top safety) than reach for a corner. But the counterargument there is that this class is so deep at safety and not as deep at other positions.
This team’s biggest need has always been defensive tackle, and adding a supremely disruptive presence in the Mizzou product makes a lot of sense. He would immediately boost this team, but they might be better off taking Allen or Vaccaro (or a guard) and then hoping Jonathan Hankins falls to them in the second. Richardson is the safe pick to fill the DT void, but the Panthers have so many needs that they shouldn’t close their mind to just one need (no matter how vast it is). Besides, I love the Hankins fit, since the Panthers really need a top run-stopper in the middle of the defense- something the former Ohio State Buckeyes star provides.
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