<
>

Mocking with Mel Kiper

Mel Kiper has his first mock draftInsider out and he has the Carolina Panthers talking Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley with the first overall pick.

I’ve got no problem with that because, at least right now, I think Fairley is the best choice. He’s an elite player at a position of need. There are some defensive ends who are highly rated, but the emergence of Charles Johnson this season means defensive end isn’t as much of a priority as defensive tackle.

But let’s keep one thing in mind as we start talking more and more about the draft. It’s very early. The college all-star games and the practices that go with them are just getting started. The scouting combine is more than a month away. Individual workouts come after that.

Teams are going to change their impressions of some players in the next few months and guys are going to rise and fall. In fact, looking at Mel’s draft, he has Arizona taking Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert at No. 5. We all know Carolina needs a quarterback in free agency or the draft.

A lot of Carolina fans took it hard when Stanford’s Andrew Luck decided to stay in college. He was viewed by just about everyone as the No. 1 pick if he had decided to come out. The early word out of the experts is that no other quarterback is worthy of the No. 1 pick.

But the fact that Kiper has Gabbert going so high makes me wonder a bit. If Gabbert works out well and interviews well, could Carolina take him? It might be a bit of a leap, but it wouldn’t be the first time someone has taken a reach on a quarterback. If the Panthers decide he’s a franchise guy, he could jump ahead of Fairley.