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February 13, 2014

Jones: Top 5 draft needs for Panthers

Three months from now—when the snow finally stops and the ice melts—Carolina general manager Dave Gettleman will have selected the newest batch of Panthers in the 2014 NFL draft.

The Panthers have seven draft picks this year, two more than last year, and the 28th overall selection in the first round.

Free agency begins March 11 and that will affect what the Panthers do in the draft. But mixing in some projections with what the Panthers need now, here’s a look at Carolina’s top five needs heading into the draft:

1. Offensive tackle—If Jordan Gross doesn’t come back, the Panthers need a left tackle. If he does come back, they’re going to need a left tackle soon. Carolina doesn’t want to throw a rookie into the fire at left tackle, so even if Gross comes back, it’s logical the team will draft an understudy to Gross. And rather than sitting on the bench in 2014, that player could also compete for the right tackle job held by Byron Bell, who had an up-and-down 2013 season.

2. Wide receiver—I've heard plenty of fans say receiver is the top need for the Panthers in this draft, that Cam Newton has to have someone other than Steve Smith to throw to. But there are only a few dozen serviceable left tackles in the NFL, and Gettleman admitted drafting a top-flight receiver is generally tough. But even if the Panthers can’t find their next No. 1 receiver in the draft, they could find a player that can fit in the rotation after a disappointing season by No. 2 receiver Brandon LaFell.

3. CornerbackCaptain Munnerlyn wants to be back, and if the price is right, he’ll be back. Melvin White played as well as one could hope for an undrafted rookie, but past that, the cupboard is bare. Veteran Drayton Florence was already cut once by the team, Josh Thomas threw a punch that extinguished the team’s finally comeback hopes against the 49ers and Josh Norman hardly saw the field after giving up the game-winning touchdown in Buffalo.

4. Defensive tackle—Another one? Yes. Gettleman took Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short in the first two rounds last year, and don’t put it past him to take another one. Dwan Edwards is in the final year of his two-year deal, Colin Cole is an unrestricted free agent and Greg Hardy, who occasionally slid inside to tackle, could walk in free agency. We all know Gettleman loves hog mollies.

5. Quarterback—Carolina isn’t replacing Cam Newton any time soon, and Gettleman said he’ll make a fair offer to Newton for his second contract. But what of Derek Anderson? He helped a young Newton along behind the scenes and rarely in the past three years has he even gotten a chance to see game action. If Anderson isn’t retained, Carolina will need a quarterback and could easily get one with a late-round selection. 

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on February 13, 2014 at 12:54 PM | Permalink

Comments

What about defensive end? Johnson isn't getting any younger and the Kraken has played his way to a massive contract elsewhere. Our replacements are role players at best.

Also, we could use a second tight end. We will likely cut Godfrey after June 1, so safety isn't out of the question either. Our guard situation is troubling as well.

Lot of needs on draft day, but I don't see DT and QB as two of the most dire.

Posted by: Alex F. | Feb 13, 2014 1:10:22 PM

Why do we keep pointing fingers at Brandon LaFell when Ted Ginn was without doubt the most disappointing receiver?

Posted by: Steven | Feb 13, 2014 1:46:28 PM

In order of importance: Cornerback, offensive line, wide receiver.

Why do you evade the dire need for a decent size shut down corner?

Posted by: par404 | Feb 13, 2014 2:59:56 PM

our runnning game was our undoing against San Fran & almost cost us against NO & ATL...we need linemen in the worst way

Posted by: bull123 | Feb 13, 2014 4:12:10 PM

@ Steven,

Ted Ginn was also effective on punt and kick returns,an area where we were lacking. His ability to play more than one position makes him more valuable than LaFell. His speed is also useful for stretching defenses to open up underneath routes.

Posted by: Phil Lattio | Feb 13, 2014 4:58:14 PM

^ agreed. need dramatic improvement on the oline

Posted by: Alex F. | Feb 13, 2014 5:00:49 PM

wr, de, s,cb,and ol.

Posted by: bryce | Feb 13, 2014 6:52:09 PM

VERY tough to draft a corner that late and expect him to be a shut down corner. This year proved beyond a doubt that the strategy, on both sides of the ball, is to draft big, talented lineman. Look what happened to our defense when we put Star and Kwan in there as rookies? When the line of scrimmage is dominated, it makes everyone else better. It makes a no-name secondary much better because you get pressure on the QB and stifle the run, and it frees linebackers up to make plays.

The same can now be done on offense. Take the best lineman available in first round for sure. We get two injured lineman back next season. We do that and you will see a much better run game and even average receivers will do better because cam will be protected better. Even the best secondaries can't contain receivers well after 4+ seconds.

I will also say there is a really good chance that we sign Hakeem Nicks to finally be that big, possession receiver opposite Steve. He is a Giant (Gettleman likes mining his old team), and he is a Charlotte native and former Tarheel. He did not have a great year, because Giants struggled overall, so his price tag won't be as high as if he was a pro bowler. In our offense, particularly if we do stack up on the Oline, he could be a pro bowler again.

Posted by: Steve | Feb 14, 2014 9:32:31 AM

Hakeem Nicks is the most overrated WR available. He can't stay healthy and on the field long enough to be of much help.

Posted by: Chet | Feb 14, 2014 10:24:45 AM

Nicks started 15 out of 16 games last year, same as Steve Smith, but had 100 more yards receiving. So would you call Steve Smith overrated too? There are plenty of examples where receivers change teams and have a resurgence. Nicks would definitely be an upgrade over what we have and his upside is great, plus he likely won't cost a lot. We can't draft a receiver early and wait for him to grow. Steve won't be here much longer. We need an impact player now. Draft a WR later on that can hopefully be groomed to replace Steve on 2015 or 2016.

Posted by: Steve | Feb 14, 2014 10:43:14 AM

On the spot!
O Line is the first need, as Cam needs more time and protection, especially with the uncertainty of Gross.
Wide Receivers can be drafted in the 2nd and/or 3rd round. Brandon LaFell ABSOLUTELY SUCKS!!! He had every chance to step up and he creates no fear in any Corner, Safety or Defensive Coordinator. Ted Ginn WAS A Surprise, as he was there to add to the Special Teams and occasionally make a play on Offense. Sign him and start him in 2014 (Steven, you're a dingaling!)
Also, there will be plenty of Free Agent Wide Receivers, so pick one off of the lot and get a budget deal.
Cornerback is needed, but you can also find that in the 2nd or 3rd Round.
Defensive Tackles and Ends can be found in the 4th and 5th round, as proven by one Greg Hardy.

Posted by: Soupy Sales | Feb 14, 2014 11:48:39 AM

Release the Kraken!!

Posted by: The Kraken | Feb 14, 2014 2:21:35 PM

I can play defensive tackle. Draft me!

Posted by: John Downing | Feb 14, 2014 2:22:22 PM

Interesting scenario is to use a top 3 round pick on a solid, non-murderous second TE. A dual TE threat in this offense, with that defense, could be powerful. But yeah-- LT,WR,CB are needs.

Posted by: MTB | Feb 14, 2014 3:21:22 PM

The Panthers could not score from inside the 5 on 2 different occasions against SF in a playoff game. With 2 weeks rest. At home. Against a team that had play GB a week earlier. And had to travel from the West Coast to play games 2 weeks in a row. Defense was on the field too much last year. Too many 3 and outs by the offense. Gettleman goes hog molly at 28 for an OT. And OG in the second round. Unless a stupid good player is still on the board.

Posted by: psl | Feb 15, 2014 7:54:56 AM

I LIKE TO SEE THE PANTERS GET ONE WR KELVIN BENJIAMIN OUR ALLAN ROBINSON FROM PENN STATE OUR BRANDON COLOEMAN 6'6 220LB FROM RUTGERS OUR CODY HUFFMAN FROM BYU 6'3 215 OUR GO WITH NEAL STERLING FROM MONMOUNT(NJ)6'3 230lb our GERALD FORD 6'3 220LB FROM VALOSTAS ST OUR JORAN MATTHEWS 6'3 205 VANDERILT OUR DEVIN STREET 6'3 192LB PITT ST AL WR THAT CAM CAN TROW BAL TO.FROM THE DRAFT THIE YEAR 2014

Posted by: rob | Feb 22, 2014 2:26:19 PM

ALL THESE WR IS GOOD FOR CAM NEWTON TROW TO BECAUSE THEY OR TALL AND FAST GOOD HANDS PANTERS TALL WR BECASE HE AND DO HAVE TO THROW DOWN THEY DON'T NEED ANY MORE SORT WR.HER IS ANOTHER WR MIKE EVANS FROM A&M OR
MARQISE LEE-USE

Posted by: rob | Feb 22, 2014 3:17:35 PM

hear is some good(cb)(ss)for the panthers need people like THIS for long ball. Qua cox Jackson state . CALIVIN PROYR FROM LOUISVILLE OUR JASON VERRET FROM TCU OUR CLINTON DIX ALABAMA OUR JUSTIN GILBERT FROM OKLAHOMA OUR DARQUEZE DENARD FROM MICHIGAN OUR JOHNTHAN BANKS (AEG)

Posted by: rob | Feb 23, 2014 9:35:59 PM

WE NEED BETTER (RB)THIN ONES WE GOT (RB)LIKE TODDY GURLEY OUR CARLES SIMS OUR ANEDLE WILLIAMS
FROM BOSTON OUR BISHOP SANKEY OUR FROM WASHINGTON
.ONE WE HAVE SICKS PAYING TO MUCH MONEY FOR THEM.
PANHTERS NEED. TALL (TE)like A.C. LEONED 6'3 TEEN ST OUR C.J FIEDOROWIES FROM LOWA 6'6 OUR FROM WASHINGTON OUR JONES FROM EAST CA OUR JERDON NAJVAR 6'5

Posted by: rob | Feb 23, 2014 10:57:51 PM

FOR PANTHERS DRAFT HEAR ARE SOME GOOD (LB)C.L MODEY FROM ALABAMA OUR (LB) KHAIL MACK FROM BUFFALO

Posted by: rob | Feb 23, 2014 11:00:39 PM

CAM NEWTON NEED OFFICE LINE SO HE CAN TROW BALL WITH OUT GETTING SACK LINE IS WEAK.THEY NEED TO GET BETTER PLAYS FOR THE REDZONE.

Posted by: rob | Feb 23, 2014 11:09:20 PM

LAFELL SUCK WE NEED TALL WR WITH SEED AND GOOD HAND.'6'6 CAN CATCH.

Posted by: rob | Feb 23, 2014 11:25:15 PM

CAM NEWTON NEED A GOOD BACK UP QB FOR ME IF HE GOT HURT! SOME ONE LIKE HIM

Posted by: rob | Feb 23, 2014 11:40:00 PM

THE BACK UP QB WE HAVE HOW SUCK TO. SAVE OUR MONEY FOR FREE AGENETS.

Posted by: rob | Feb 23, 2014 11:45:30 PM

WE LOVE GINN GOOD PLAYER KEEP HIM WE NEED MORE LIKE HIM FOR THE PANTHERS FAST AND CAN CATCH TALL PAYER LIKE GINN.DON'T DROP BALLS

Posted by: rob | Feb 23, 2014 11:53:37 PM

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