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February 25, 2014

Looking at the Panthers' free agent and draft options at tackle

With the news of long-time left tackle Jordan Gross retiring, a look at the Panthers roster shows no starting left tackle or a true backup.

Nate Chandler showed more promise at guard than at tackle. Byron Bell is better suited at right tackle, where he struggled at times in 2013. The team experimented with Bruce Campbell at left tackle before his injury and decided he’s best left on the right side.

So now the Panthers have a franchise quarterback with no one on the roster to protect him. Here’s a look at a few of general manager Dave Gettleman's options.

Free agency

The Panthers have been freeing up money in the past few days for multiple reasons, and this was one of the contingencies. Toss out Branden Albert’s name. He’s the top left tackle in free agency that will likely hit the market and the price will be too high for the cap-challenged Panthers.

Moving on, I see Anthony Collins as an answer. He took over at left tackle for the Bengals and played well, ranking 16th among tackles in pass protection according to Pro Football Focus. The Washington Post has a good breakdown of Collins here.

Another option could be Ravens’ Eugene Monroe, the former first rounder who could hit free agency in two weeks if Baltimore can’t come to an agreement with him. He could be pricey, though. He signed a five-year, $26.25 million deal coming out of college, and he’ll be looking for a big second deal in free agency.

The draft

Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews are the elite tackles in this year’s draft, and they should both be gone by the 12th pick (and probably sooner). Unless the Panthers get into dire straits at left tackle, I can’t see them trading up to grab one of them. Sustained success means having a delicate balance, and trading away a future first and second-round pick may not be in the cards for Gettleman.

Taylor Lewan should go in the mid-first round. I consider Lewan to be a step below Matthews and Robinson. I like Zack Martin’s game, but some NFL scouts look at his body and see him as a better fit at guard, so I doubt he falls to Carolina at No. 28.

Cyrus Kouandjio is a name I’ve mentioned here before. One report stated teams have caution about his knee, and one of those teams may be the Panthers.

The only other first-round-worthy tackle in the draft, in my estimation, is Virginia’s Morgan Moses. Ideally, a guy like him would play at right tackle in his rookie season and switch when the time was necessary.

Gettleman has said time and again the team will draft best available. At 28, Tiny Richardson and Jack Mewhort aren’t close to best available. Considering the Panthers’ cap situation as well as its depth chart at tackle, Panthers fans may have to simmer down on the likes of Brandin Cooks and Odell Beckham Jr. and begin accepting a tackle may be coming to town.

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on February 25, 2014 at 12:02 PM | Permalink

Comments

Don't forget about Jonathon Martin from Miami. He won't play for the Dolphins again, but he is a starting left tackle, he's young, and smart. He would be a good fit here and we could get him for a 3rd or 4th round pick.

Posted by: Ghoul | Feb 25, 2014 12:15:57 PM

I agree with you Jonathan...I'd honestly rather see us make a run at Collins, rather than reaching for a tackle at 28. Maybe focus on 2nd or 3rd round for tackles. Is there any thought to moving Travelle back to tackle?

Posted by: Alan Williams | Feb 25, 2014 12:20:16 PM

Sign Tim Tebow and put him in at tackle. There is nothing that could go wrong. Nothing. At all.

Posted by: Logic | Feb 25, 2014 12:23:27 PM

I would like to see us sign Anthony Collins or Eugene Monroe, I know signing someone like Monroe will be costly, but Jordan Gross was the upmost professional and athlete. We need someone big to fill his shoes. Our current make shift offensive line has been a major weakness when injured in current seasons. We have been lucky that we have a quarterback like Cam, who is big and durable and also quick and elusive. I say if we do not sign one of those tackles we should at least entertain the idea of trading up for one of those cornerstone tackles. To be honest our defensive secondary is going to be less than average no matter what so if we lose out on Captain, who is a nickel or second cornerback at best IMO, then who cares? We MUST resign Hardy and hopefully restructure Charles Johnson contract. O-Line (unless we sign a free agent) first round, secondary second round, receiver third round, secondary fourth round, O-Line fifth round, secondary sixth round, best available seventh round.

Posted by: Jordan | Feb 25, 2014 12:37:12 PM

Can we use one of the Bobcats' first round picks to move up in the draft? Gross is a great player, this one stings.

Posted by: James Reed | Feb 25, 2014 1:12:31 PM

Michael oher?

Posted by: Matt | Feb 25, 2014 1:31:16 PM

Try to trade up for Lewan is likely the best option. Give up our 1st round this year and possibly a 4 or 5th round pick to move up and get him. They have to protect Cam next year and into the future. Try and bring in a guy like Hakeem Nicks in free agency for some WR help and use the 2nd round/3rd round on secondary help or O line help

Posted by: Pike | Feb 25, 2014 3:01:10 PM

What about James Hurst from UNC? His injury from the Belk Bowl could push him down. He would be a nice get too...

Posted by: Ryan | Feb 25, 2014 3:08:27 PM

Uhh, seems to me the Panthers ARE in "dire straits" at Left tackle. Not sure you want a rookie protecting Cam. Sure wish Jordan would have stayed one more year.

Posted by: PhilW1957 | Feb 25, 2014 4:05:22 PM

Don't you know that Martin is soft.... That's what stArted the whole Miami debacle

Posted by: Jarrod | Feb 25, 2014 4:32:27 PM

Sign Hakeem Nicks and Anthony Collins in FA and then Gettleman will have the luxury of drafting BPA when we draft. The mocks are all over the place right now and there's a chance some of the top talent, right now, could slip after all the teams have compiled their evaluations after the combine. Draft Moses with the 1st and BPA WR in the 2nd

Posted by: ZB | Feb 25, 2014 5:28:44 PM

Seriously, Wharton looked stronger than ever and could be comparable to any reasonable replacement through fa

Posted by: Jarrod | Feb 25, 2014 6:30:36 PM

I won't simmer down on Beckham. Put him at LT and make him tackle eligible for the whole game. Problem solved

Posted by: DraftPro | Feb 25, 2014 9:26:54 PM

Trade with the Giants. They still owe us big time for Beason. Does anyone think they'll show a little appreciation, getting that guy for a 7th rounder? Me, neither.

Posted by: Ben | Feb 25, 2014 11:37:08 PM

Why is no one talking about North Carolina ot James Herst he was a standout through out the season before he tore his tibia in the 1st quarter of the belk bowl but will be healthy in a month he was outstanding in the opening game of the season where he was matched up against clowney. He was projected to be a first rounder before injury would be a steal in the 3rd-4th round

Posted by: Thomas Jaime | Feb 26, 2014 6:03:35 AM

With rumors that the cap will be 132+ million, I don't think Branden Albert should be considered out of our reach. Looks like with recent moves we could be 30 million under the cap.

Posted by: deepenwide | Feb 26, 2014 1:52:16 PM

Release the Kraken!!!

Posted by: The Kraken | Feb 26, 2014 3:48:48 PM

I like to see get one to kelvin Benjamin or Aellen
Robinson.

Posted by: lee | Mar 22, 2014 12:08:19 PM

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