Or so says Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel, who lists the Panthers along with Auburn, Virginia Tech, Illinois, UCLA and LSU as being among the teams likely to be hit the hardest by the 2011 NFL Draft:â†µ
Sorry, Todd Graham. The Panthers' new coach will be without two of their top weapons of the past two years, running back Dion Lewis (1,061 yards) and receiver Jonathan Baldwin (53 catches, 822 yards). Fullback Henry Hynoski threw his hat in the ring, too. Graham does inherit one particularly familiar name - Lewis' backfield mate Ray Graham (922 yards, eight TDs) - but will need to stock up on receivers to run his preferred spread offense.â†µ
This is a tough year to lose three offensive pieces, given that the NFL's lockout situation is keeping many top talents (like Stanford's Andrew Luck and Oklahoma State wideout Justin Blackmon) in college. The coaching upheaval certainly didn't help Pitt.â†µ
Baldwin will probably be a late first-round pick, and Lewis will probably go around the third round. It's unclear where Hynoski will be drafted.