Carolina Panthers Draft Needs
Some thought the Carolina Panthers were poised to win the NFC South in 2012, but their inability to win close games didn’t even allow them to finish with a winning record. The Panthers ended up 7-9, six games back of Atlanta for the top spot. Of those nine losses, seven came by less than a touchdown. It’s now up to the organization to add in the pieces needed to take this team to the next level. So far this offseason the Panthers have been extremely quiet. The biggest addition so far has been a couple of average corners in Drayton Florence and D.J. Moore, which have been offset by the loss of starter Chris Gamble. There’s still time for this team to improve their roster. Let’s take a look at the five positions the Panthers need to focus on in the upcoming NFL Draft.
For whatever reason the Panthers have not made it a priority to bring in some talent up front at defensive tackle. They were able to re-sign veteran Dwan Edwards, but he’s not much of a threat. The ideal situation for Carolina would be for Florida’s Sharrif Floyd to magically fall to them when they are up with the 14th overall pick in the first round, but there’s a good chance he will be off the board. That could leave the Panthers going after Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson with their first selection or waiting and grabbing either Purdue’s Kawann Short or Ohio State’s Johnathan Hankins with their second round pick.
The Panthers allowed way too many big pass plays last season and a lot of that had to do with the poor play they received at safety. This year’s draft class is deep at the position and it would be wise for Carolina to take advantage. They could use their first round pick on Texas defensive back Kenny Vaccaro, who has the versatility to play both corner and safety. There also figures to be talent at this position still available in the later rounds.
The additions of Florence and Moore soften the blow of losing Gamble, but they aren’t going to make the pass defense any better. Luckily for the Panthers there’s a lot of talent at the corner position. Now they just have to take advantage. The Panthers should spend multiple picks on this position to avoid not gaining anything if one player doesn’t work out.
The Panthers have a big time playmaker on the outside in Steve Smith and a nice pass-catching tight end in Greg Olson. Smith can still produce at a high level, but he’s on the wrong side of his prime. In order to take full advantage of the weapon they have at quarterback in Cam Newton, they need to bring in some more playmakers. I like the addition of Ted Ginn, but he’s a deep threat at best. Brandon LaFell took on a bigger role last season, but I don’t see him as a No. 1 receiver down the road.
The Panthers aren’t in desperate need at this position and I wouldn’t advise using an early pick here, but outside of Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson there’s not a whole lot of depth. As many of you know, in order to be a successful defense in the NFL you have to put pressure on the quarterback. Too many teams make the mistake of not having enough players who specialize in this area. Carolina needs a backup plan if either Hardy or Johnson suffer an injury and right now I’m not seeing it on their roster.
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