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Three Potential Fits For The Panther's 8th Pick

With the NFL Draft right around the corner, it is time to look at potential fits for the Panthers when they pick 8th in the first round. All of the prospects listed are universally considered top tier talents by scouts and draft analysts.

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1. Malik Hooker, S, OSU

The Columbus Dispatch

The Panthers could look to add Hooker to their system as an instant starter at the safety position who provides play-making ability. He has the size (6'1'', 205 lbs) to play safety in the NFL, and has drawn comparisons to former All-Pro Ed Reed, due to his ball-hawking nature. Hooker had six interceptions for Ohio State this past season, four of which were returned for touchdowns. He is also a solid tackler and can be a big hitter in the open-field, characteristics the Panther's defense is known for. He also creates insurance for the Panthers if they could not resign current starter, Tre Boston.

2. Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

Barnett would fix a lingering problem for the Panther's with their lack of pass rush from the outside edge. He is a complete, three-down defensive end, with incredible skill to both stop the run from the inside-out, and get to the quarterback. With 13 sacks in the 2016 season, he broke Tennessee great and HOF defensive end Reggie White's career sack record at Tennessee. That is good company to be in as a hopeful NFL pass rusher.

His hand skills still need some work when battling with offensive linemen, and he needs to improve his quickness off the line when the ball is snapped. But he would be a great fit for the panthers run-stopping and hard hitting defense, and would compliment it well with his ability to maneuver or bull-rush his way to the passer.

3. Dalvin Cook

With the Panthers moving away from the down hill, zone-read offense that puts quarterback Cam Newton in danger of taking big open-field hits, Cook fits perfectly here. Cook can take the pressure off of Newton with his powerful and quick running style, all while creating a safety blanket for him in the passing game. This past season, Cook ran for 1,765 yards on 288 carries and had 19 rushing touchdowns. He added another 33 receptions for 433 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown.

Cook is incredibly versatile, running and catching the ball smoothly and soundly, and is an excellent route runner at his position. He has good enough hands to make a play down field or catch an underneath and make it into a big play with his elite top-end speed. He can pound the ball through the middle to get chunk yards, or bump it to the outside and create a big play with quick cuts. He can definitely help a Panther's rushing attack that was really down in 2016.

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