The Carolina Panthers have been connected to just about every defensive star in one 2012 NFL Mock Draft or another, and for good reason; Cam Newton's offense was outstanding last year, finishing fifth in the league in points, but their defense was awful, allowing 7.6 net yards per pass attempt—last in football—and finishing 25th in yards per carry against. Both on the ground and through the air teams had no trouble cutting through for first downs. With that in mind, they'll be selecting Quinton Coples with the No. 9 pick in our 2012 NFL Mock Draft.
Coples has moved all over the draft board—I've seen him everywhere from No. 6 to No. 12—but after reading this great piece from Cat Scratch Reader on Melvin Ingram's fundamental inability to fit into the Panthers' defense I was convinced he made sense for the Panthers, who have the luxury, for what it's worth, of being able to upgrade wherever they want on defense, and in whatever scheme. That is, I think, the only luxury that comes from being really terrible on defense.
SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft will be posting entries from No. 1 all the way to 32 in the days leading up the real draft. You can follow along at our draft storystream, or read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis stream.