After analyzing the draft needs of all 32 teams, PFT will review how well each team addressed those needs. Up next: The Carolina Panthers.
What they needed: Offensive tackle, cornerback, safety, defensive tackle, wide receiver.
Who they got:
Round 1: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Round 2: Kawaan Short, DT, Purdue
Round 4: Edmund Kugbila, OG, Valdosta State
Round 5: A.J. Klein, LB, Iowa State
Round 6: Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon
Where they hit: New general manager Dave Gettleman clearly has a plan, and it involves building the Panthers in the image of the Giants. By doubling up with Lotulelei and Short, they added a stout run-stopper and a pass-rusher to the middle of a defensive line that has good talent on the edges. If the two picks can play, they have a chance to be one of the league’s top defensive lines. That’s still an if, however.
Where they missed: Their secondary is kind of a mess, and remained that way. Their hope is that a better pass rush gives teams less time to throw, and it better work. They’re deep in nickels (Captain Munnerlyn, Drayton Florence, D.J. Moore), but two of them will have to start. At safety, they have the acceptable Charles Godfrey and your-guess-is-as-good-as-mine at the other spot. They also failed to add anything at offensive tackle, which means they’re perhaps a year away from a complete rebuild.
Impact rookies: To be honest, their final three picks could have a significant impact, next year. They drafted a Division II guard for the second straight year, meaning there’s pressure on line coach John Matsko to develop some guys. Klein and Barner were value picks for the future, when they start shedding bad contracts.
Long-term prospects: They didn’t have enough picks to fix everything. And let’s face it, the whole building’s on a one-year deal. If Ron Rivera can’t learn to win a close game and push them to nine or 10 wins, the bulk of the team as presently constructed is going away. There’s enough talent for that to be a reasonable possibility, but if they don’t take a significant step forward, a lot of the team’s old core (Jordan Gross, Jon Beason, DeAngelo Williams and perhaps even Steve Smith) will probably be somewhere else next season.