Carolina Panther’s Draft and Team Needs

Posted: February 15, 2013 in 2013 NFL Draft, Team Needs, Views and opinions

panthersjpgThe 2012 Carolina Panthers finished a disappointing 7-9 and only managed a 3-3 record in the NFC South. There wasn’t talk of a Super Bowl run at the beginning of the season, but making the playoffs was on the mind of every person and fan involved with the Panthers. They failed to meet that expectation and honestly it was a disappointing season for a franchise that was looking to capitalize on the second year of quarterback Cam Newton. The Panthers need to find some youth in the right spots and find some players who can contribute in the same way rookie linebacker Luke Kueckly did. The cupboard is not bare and the pieces are in place to make a playoff run in the NFL South, but in order to do that a few key areas need to be addressed.

Defensive Tackle- The Panthers are getting old at defensive tackle, at least the starters. Both Dwan and Ron Edwards are past their 30th birthday and are both free agents. If you had to put money on who was going to get resigned, its Dwan who had more sacks and is younger. Dwan also is just a better player right now than Ron. The edges are good for the Panthers right now, but their interior has to get better. Some of the top players in this draft could fall to the Panthers at the 14th pick. Shariff Floyd of Florida and Sheldon Richardson of Missouri could be in play in the 1st round. They need a guy to anchor the middle of the line and can get to the QB when let loose.

Outside Linebacker- The franchise hit a home run in the 2012 draft with Luke Kuechly, and when Jon Beason is healthy (which he hasn’t been for 2 years) they have one of the best young tandems in the NFL. However, the Panthers need to get better and younger than they are now. How much longer can Thomas Davis hold up? Is James Anderson an NFL starter? Those are questions the Panthers have to answer and address. I think they have to look to outside linebacker in the early rounds. One good thing is that one of the premier guys in the draft could fall to them in the first round like Georgia’s Jarvis Jones. But they have to than figure out if the value at outside linebacker is greater than the need at defensive tackle. They could get lucky and pick up a player like Khaseem Greene from Rutgers, who is a solid prospect that may fall due to the elite talent slated to be picked in the first round.

Wide Receiver- The Panthers do not have a 3rd round pick, and as much as it may not seem like a big deal, it is. Third rounder’s are where you can grab a lot of talented players that fall for whatever reasons Third rounder contribute early in a lot of cases. This is why I think the Panthers will look to trade out of pick 14 and gather picks in the late 2nd or 3rd round. The players they value will be there later in the 1st round. That is hypothetical and the reason why I am saying that now is, there is talent at wide receiver in this draft and it is going to be there in the third Steve Smith is the ultimate gamer and he is a rock on the roster. But they need to get younger and better here. I think that they look to trade into the third round and grad a bigger bodied receiver like Baylor’s Terrence Williams or Arkansas’s Cobi Hamilton. They both are big outside receivers who have quick feet and great upside. Because after Steve Smith it is a drop off in talent and the Panthers have to get more weapons at the skill positions.

Free Safety- I think this position is one of the more glaring needs in the Panthers off season. As of right now, DJ Campbell is listed as the starter. He will not be as the season starts, I imagine, and the Panthers may look to free agency for this need over taking an early flyer on a weak safety class (after Kenny Vaccaro of Texas). The NFL free agent list is loaded with safeties that can be picked up in March and I think the Panthers will look to the top guys like Buffalo’s Jarius Byrd and maybe William Moore from the Falcons if he is released. I think they take another route with their first two picks, but they could get some good value and depth in the 5th thru 7th round, possibly a guy like Georgia Southern’s J.J. Wilcox who could be a great player given time and coaching.

Running Back– The Panthers leading rusher was Cam Newton, and I don’t care what offense you run, in the NFL a quarterback should not lead the team in rushing. They are invested in Jonathan Stewart for a large contract and what would be a large financial hit if they cut him. On the other hand, DeAngelo Williams is not pulling his weight and is older than Stewart. This leads me to believe that Williams’ days are over in Carolina, or at least numbered. Either way, the Panthers need a play maker out of the back field. This will be another late round pick for the Panthers and they could possibly find some tremendous value in their 5th thru 7th round picks seeing that there is such a devaluation of running backs in the NFL. They will probably go with the quicker, shiftier back since they have Stewart who is not a home run threat. Watch for late round names like Kerwynn Williams from Utah State and D.J. Harper of Boise State.

Two other areas of need that have to be addressed are with finding a backup tight and a back up quarter back. The Panthers need a seasoned vet at quarterback to help mold Newton. Last year at too many times did we see Cam Newton hang his head and sulk and act like “woe is me” too often. The face of the franchise has to take it on the chin and keep going, and I am very critical of Newton’s abilities to do so and lead this team in the long run. Bring in a mentor and try to change this, or I see it spiraling out of control if things go bad. As for tight end, Greg Olsen is still producing but they need to get some depth behind him. It needs to be a player that is a great receiver as they have blocking tight ends n the roster already.

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