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Team needs: Carolina Panthers

Ron Rivera AP

Last year, the Carolina Panthers had the first pick in the draft, took a chance on a player who wasn’t viewed as a sure thing, and scored big time when Cam Newton turned out to be as impressive a rookie quarterback as the NFL has ever seen. This year, the Panthers enter the draft knowing their offense is in good shape moving forward, and needing to build a defense.

Defensive tackle: The Panthers’ run defense was brutally bad last season, and they simply have to get better in the middle of their defensive line. With the ninth pick in the NFL draft they’re highly likely to take someone they think can start at defensive tackle from Day One.

Fletcher Cox of Mississippi State is widely regarded as both the best defensive tackle in this draft and the defensive tackle who will be most ready to start as a rookie, and Carolina would be smart to snap him up if he’s available. Some mock drafts have shown the Panthers going after workout warrior Dontari Poe of Memphis, and although Poe is an intriguing talent, he’s a better fit for a team that can be patient enough to develop his raw athleticism and turn him into a complete defensive lineman.

Defensive end: Don’t be surprised if the Panthers go with defensive line in both the first and second rounds, with a tackle and an end as their first two picks. If Carolina goes with a defensive end at No. 9, it could be North Carolina’s Quinton Coples, a 284-pounder who has the talent to start immediately, but whose work ethic has been questioned. If tackle is the choice in the first round, a defensive end in the second round like Marshall’s Vinny Curry could be an option.

Cornerback: The Panthers traded away their third-round pick to acquire tight end Greg Olsen, so if they do go with a defensive end and a defensive tackle in the first and second rounds, they’d enter the third day of the draft having addressed only their defensive line. If that is the case, they’ll hope they can take a flyer on Day 3 on someone who will be able to make a difference in their secondary. Cornerback is a position they’d like to improve, and if there’s a cornerback available in Rounds 4-7 who’s also a good special teams player, that would be ideal. The Panthers struggled on special teams last season, and the third day of the draft is a good time to add players who can return kicks or improve their coverage units.

Wide receiver: Steve Smith’s recent contract extension will keep him in place as Newton’s top receiver for another few years, but the Panthers would like to surround Newton with as many weapons as they can. With five picks on the third day of the draft, the Panthers will likely take at least one receiver and hope he can develop.

Impact players like Newton don’t come along every year, but the Panthers will hope that this year’s draft leaves them with an upgraded defensive line. Anything beyond that is gravy.

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16 Responses to “Team needs: Carolina Panthers”
  1. NationalFlagFootballLeague says: Apr 14, 2012 11:14 AM

    6-10 and battling for the 4th best team in the NFC SOUTH.
    Meanwhile, the Saints will go 11-5 and win the division by at least 2 games.
    have a good day

  2. jasonkarl55 says: Apr 14, 2012 11:24 AM

    The Panthers are a very well coached team, if they stay relatively healthy next season and have a nice draft, picking up a few defensive prospects, they could possibly push for a playoff spot. Scary team in the future.

  3. madenatewell says: Apr 14, 2012 11:25 AM

    Don’t forget to add Luke Kuechly to this, he could go 9…also if Claiborne or Blackmon falls, I highly doubt they’d pass…guys like Brandyn Thompson, Devon Still, Billy Winn are options after round 1 at DT…Who knows if Janoris Jenkins is around on day 2? Theres a chance…it’s all very intriguing considering we knew Cam Newton was the pick in early march last year…lol

  4. weekendatberniemadoffs says: Apr 14, 2012 11:36 AM

    fletcher cox, luke kuechly, or melvin ingram seem to be the only safe players who would be available at number 9 on the defensive side of the ball. for those of who watched jordan senn play last year, resigning him is reassuring. however, i get the unfortunate inclination we may pass on kuechly. stephon gilmore could be the best db in the draft and i wouldn’t put it past rivera to make that decision, but it seems unlikely. last year, as the dreaded bottom dweller, we could afford to take a gamble on newton. it couldn’t have got any worse than clausen. coples and poe are both risks, something this franchise cannot afford right now. that’s the difference between this years draft and our number one pick last year. cox and ingram are not only playmakers, but good human beings, and we all know how much jerry values that. we’re on the verge panthers fans. hang in there.

  5. loyalpanthersfan says: Apr 14, 2012 11:37 AM

    You have the needs except why take a DE so early we need CB help, especially with how we got destroyed QBs, and we are in a division with top QBs n receivers. I wouldn’t be surprisedif we traded down n took a CB since the DT position is heavy with talent this year.

  6. pnthrz1 says: Apr 14, 2012 11:53 AM

    For the first RD, I think they either trade up for a CB/WR or Stay Put/Trade Back for a DT. It all depends upon what happens in front of them. The Panthers make deals on Day 1, if they see something they like.

  7. taurusturner says: Apr 14, 2012 12:10 PM

    Luke Kuechly is the best option at 9 for the panthers. This guy is a tackling machine out of Boston College he would unquestionably play clean up against the run if the defensive line can’t do the job. He rarely lets backs get to the third level. Adding a ball hawking cb like jayron hosely would be ideal for the 2nd pick. He lead the nation in interceptions. As for wide outs why not Tommy Streeter 6′ 5 wr from miami. Raw yes but could be a good deep and red zone threat. And DT Roy from Nevada is an all american who has a ton of upside. And lets not forget about a kicker. Mare…enough said.

  8. cash804 says: Apr 14, 2012 12:14 PM

    A quiet, but amazing aquisition…my cousin, free agent line backer Jyles Tucker. He’ll bring veteran leadership that’ll equate to more wins in what’s shaping out to be one of the most competitive divions in football.

  9. qdog112 says: Apr 14, 2012 12:18 PM

    Right now the Panthers have a decent rotation in the DL, with experience form last year’s rookies and the return of veterans like Edwards. If a first rd DL is not named Suh or Chris Jenkins, we should not take him. The better pick is Melvin Ingram, if he’s there.

    We are seeking a “Cam Newton” on defense and Ingram is that guy. Of course if Claiborne is there, you gotta take him. Noway do we take an offensive player, unless Megatron comes back to the draft.

    Our first 3 picks should be on defense and Russell Wilson to backup Cam on the second day.

  10. Matt Volk says: Apr 14, 2012 12:21 PM

    @loyalpanthersfan A good pass rush can make a mediocre secondary look pretty darn good, and don’t forget about Brandon Hogan. Lets face it Greg Hardy is at best a 1st DE off the bench, he’s awful against the run and his pass rushing is too inconsistent. CJ and Coples would be nasty together, and help our whole defense out.

  11. geechieboy says: Apr 14, 2012 12:54 PM

    Some times I think this guy just isn’t in touch with our organization, I don’t think we are taking a DT or corner high in the draft… This isn’t the Fox Era where we smokescreens like previous years. Last year when Rivera (aka BAMF) came in a said we are going to address the positions of need because we had a lot of holes, and they did that! They addressed the d-line with 2 high picks, and also pulled in an injured corner who was expected to be a low 1st-high 2nd round talent pre-injury. Fast forward 6 months we lose our first free agent aquision (Ron Edwards), and our 2 of our 3 starting LBs, (1 the being THE TEAM CAPTAIN) that’s gonna slow the development of the young guys up front. Then BAMF said “we are gonna roll wit what we have, and we are gonna take our lumps (2012) like lil brothers do, but eventually (2013) we will get our big brothers back (injured players) we will start to beat up on the entire league” hence @jasonkarl55 statement “Scary team in the future.” If you take what he said and Marty draft history we are going to select who ever is the BEST PLAYER AVAILABLE on OUR board. Barring a drop from a top 5 talent (Kalil or Blackmon, Claiborne), I think we are going to take a pass rusher not named Coples. Ingram, or trade the pick to the Jets for their 1st, 3rd and next years 2nd.

  12. mhs8031 says: Apr 14, 2012 1:19 PM

    If you stop reading the other mocks and start paying attention to Rivera and Hurney, you would rearrange these priorities.
    1. The Panthers are looking closely at first round WRs. They have said REPEATEDLY that they are not necessarily going D in round 1 and they want to give Cam weapons. Smitty (33), Lafell, and Gettis (ACL) is not enough.
    2. At DT, nobody mentions that they get Edwards off IR or that Rivera applauded the development of YOUNG DTs Shirley and Kearse down the stretch. Hurney has also said that Fua and McClain need time to develop during a normal offseason. Add Neblett, and you can see that throwing more youth at DT is not the answer.
    3. At DE, they want to see how well Hardy comes into his own and they are also tickled that undrafted rookie Keiser had 4 sacks in limited action last year. They re-signed Applewhite. Maybe a pass rushing DE in the second round, but I think they are more interested in other positions.
    4. The panthers need a starting-caliber, versatile LB and a CB more than anything else on defense. Beason is looking pretty good and Davis is a long shot. At CB, they have 1 starter and 3 nickels.

    Carolina’s top 3 needs? Pay attention to comments, draft visits, and free agency. WR, CB, and LB are the top needs on defense. If you want to read stats from last season and copy others, keep shouting DE and DT. If your problem is youth and inexperience, you do not fix it by throwing more youth and inexperience at it.

  13. jgedgar70 says: Apr 17, 2012 11:29 AM

    I’ll be happy with anyone except Poe and Coples. Poe is just a workout phenom; it’s going to be 4 years before he’s any good. And Coples? A freakishly-athletic DE that takes plays (sometimes even whole quarters) off that went to UNC? We’ve done that already. I’d love to have Claiborne or Blackmon to still be around at 9, but I’m not holding my breath. Cox or Ingram would be nice, and Dre Kirkpatrick would be as well. Jerry & Marty have dropped spotless character as a pre-requisite for being a Panthers draft pick, so I’m not all that worried about his incident a couple months ago.

  14. slammincamnewton says: Apr 17, 2012 4:30 PM

    I would trade down 3 spots, pick up another 2nd rounder, and grab Gilmore.

    I would not trade down if Claibourne is there. If Blackmon is there, we don’t need BPA, trade down. We do not have a 3rd, so I fully expect us to trade down.

  15. billhicks666 says: Apr 20, 2012 9:45 PM

    Carolina’s biggest need seems to be Defensive Tackle. I think they should take Fletcher Cox. He’s the best DT in a deep DT draft class. He’s the only DT in the draft that you know will provide at least a decent pass rush. He’s also very versatile, as he could rotate between DT and DE, depending on the scheme being run.

    Fletcher Cox will be a beast.

  16. billhicks666 says: Apr 20, 2012 9:48 PM

    mhs8031 says:

    “…you can see that throwing more youth at DT is not the answer….”

    It is the answer if Fletcher Cox is waiting there for you. Trust me – whichever team takes Fletcher Cox will be very, very happy they did.

    Just my opinion.

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