Last night in Super Bowl 50 Von Miller used and abused Michael Oher to keep Cam Newton from busting loose for big plays like he did for most of last season. Oher had a pretty good year after signing last year after a pretty bad season in Tennessee. Miller is one of the premier pass rushers in the league and showed last night that he couldn’t be stopped. If the Panthers want to take the next step and hope to get back to the Super Bowl next year they need to look at grabbing an offensive lineman with their first round pick.
One of the disadvantages of losing the in the Super Bowl is not getting a very good draft pick. This year Carolina will pick at #30 in the first round since New England lost their draft choice in the deflated football scandal from the 2015 AFC Championship Game.
There are some talented offensive tackle prospects in the draft but picking next to last in the draft means they won’t get the pick of the litter. Laremy Tunsil from Ole Miss is thought to be the most complete prospect in the draft but between Tennessee and San Diego he likely won’t make it past the top five. Ronnie Stanley from Notre Dame is thought to be a top ten pick but after that Taylor Decker from Ohio State, Jack Conklin from Michigan State, Shon Coleman from Auburn, Vadal Alexander from LSU and Jason Spriggs from Indiana are thought to mid first round to second round picks. So if Carolina wants to get a good tackle there will be on at #31 despite picking so late.
Assuming Tunsil, Stanley, Decker and Conklin are off the board in the top 30 that leaves Coleman, Alexander and Spriggs available for the Panthers to choose from.
Coleman was a stud at Auburn and his life is something out of a Disney movie. He beat acute lymphoblastic leukemia to go onto become a dominant SEC offensive lineman who could become a first round pick. Coleman is strong and very athletic. He’s coachable and at 6’6, 310 pounds he has the size that most GMs want in a starting tackle. The former Tiger could’ve come back for another year and may need a year or two to develop into a starter in the NFL. If Coleman can shine at the Combine his draft stock could soar and wind up in the mid-first round.
Alexander was All-SEC last year at LSU. He can play guard or tackle and at 6’6, 330 pounds he has plenty of size for the next level. Alexander excelled at run blocking but will need to work on his hands and feet if he wants to be a starting tackle in the NFL.
Spriggs is mountain of a man and a very intriguing prospect at right tackle. He had a great Senior Bowl and was voted “Best offensive lineman”. The Hoosier star was great at pass protection and always held his own when playing against Joey Bosa and other top pass rushers in the Big Ten.
Even if Carolina doesn’t draft an offensive tackle in the first or second round there are still some guys who could work their way into the rotation and eventually become starters in a year or two. Germain Ifedi from Texas A&M, Willie Beavers from Western Michigan, Le’Raven Clark from Texas Tech and Spencer Drango from Baylor will be around in the middle rounds.