(Draft day has finally arrived, and in the hours leading up to the Panthers being on the clock at No. 24, Panthers.com writers Max Henson, Bryan Strickland and Bill Voth are each profiling a prospect Carolina could target with its first-round pick.)
Frank Ragnow would be a sneaky smart choice for now (see: left guard) – and for a future without longtime center Ryan Kalil.
But my best guess for who the Panthers will pick at No. 24 is cornerback Jaire Alexander.
Full disclosure: I may be thinking a bit too much with my heart. Selfishly, I'm on the lookout for a good quote, and Alexander's mouth has a high ceiling.
Largely ignored by ACC schools in the recruiting process, the 5-foot-10 Louisville native by way of Charlotte has a boulder-sized chip on his shoulder. And here in his hometown, Alexander would join a secondary that could certainly use a guy willing to mix it up with opposing wideouts.
I mean, how great is this?
Of course, yapping only works if you can back it up. That's the bet the Panthers would be making if they take Alexander, who has some question marks. Injuries limited him to six games last year and he doesn't have the prototypical length Carolina wants in its corners. But he's quick as a flash, has a nose for the ball and those injuries that hurt his draft stock could now make him a bargain for a team sitting in the 20s.
We're all aware the Panthers need help in the secondary. That's made many speculate they'll draft a safety. Perhaps they will, but not at No. 24. That's where they should grab Alexander, a guy who spouted gold like this at the combine:
"(I) can lock everything down. Very rare that you see a pass getting caught on me. A pass getting caught on me, it's almost history in the making."