There has been a lot of talk about the Carolina Panthers drafting players this Thursday during the NFL Draft. The Panthers are more than likely to draft a player on defense to help a struggling unit with many injuries.
Whether it is to get immediate starters or get some good depth, probably both throughout the draft, draft analysis’s do not really look into the teams current depth. That alone is very decisive on what a team could pick.
But as any good team will do, your first picks are playing needs and your later picks are depth. Here is a look at the current depth and what the Panthers might plan to do with it.
Quarterbacks (3): There are three quarterbacks on roster; Newton, Anderson, and Clausen. Usually a team with three QB’s tends to look elsewhere for picks, but not too fast. Guaranteed, the Panthers will not pick a QB in the first four rounds, but if a good player is still on the board like Russell Wilson, there might be reconsideration.
This falls under the category of depth, so it must be addressed during the later rounds if it is going to be. Not only is Jimmy Clausen getting paid an extra million dollars this year, but he was inactive the entire season last year. I can see a potential draft trade with Clausen. It all boils down to if Newton were to get hurt, can any of the other two QB’s run this offence? Team need- 3
Running Backs/ Fullback (4): There are three backs; Williams, Stewart, and Vaughn on the current roster. Many thought that Mike Tolbert, recently acquired, would be a running back, but has been placed and paid as a fullback. Absolutely no way should the Panthers even consider a running back at all with a Pro Bowler and a potential Pro Bowler on depth. Team need- 0
Offensive Lineman (14): The line has had some solid additions this free agency with Bruce Campbell and Mike Pollak, but the line was injured for most of the year last year. Jeff Otah may need to be looked at for being replaced, even though his agent has said that Otah is at full recovery. Not only that, but Jordan Gross is not getting any younger and may need to start looking for his successor. When this line is healthy, you could see three to four Pro Bowlers. Team need- 7
Wide Receiver (8): With David Gettis coming back, injured all of last season, the Panthers are in better shape at receiver than everybody makes out. If you can remember, Gettis essentially outshined Steve Smith with Clausen at QB, so think of what he can do with Newton.
LaFell started to have a breakout season last year and can look to have an even better season this year. Steve Smith was re-signed through 2015, and with a rebirth last year and no signs of slowing down, I see no hurry to get a WR off the board. Team need- 4
Tight End (5): I was absolutely shocked to see that there were five men on the roster at tight end. I know that most of them will be on the practice squad but that’s a lot. With Jeremy Shockey gone, and Mike Tolbert at a solid fullback, I don’t see the Panthers running the double tight formation like they did last year. The team has resigned Ben Hartsock but need a better playmaker along with Greg Olsen. If they look to still run this formation, then tight end might be a little need. Team need- 5
Defensive Lineman (12): This is a position Carolina will be looking at to get immediate starters and not depth. The line could not stop the run at all last year, and need to find a solid player to stop it up.
Whether it is DT or DE, look to see the Panthers pick one of those in the first round, if not then the second. Ron Edwards will be back but will need someone younger with more versatility to play beside him. Team need- 9
Linebackers (10): With all the injuries from last year, the Panthers should look for not only depth but a potential day one starter. With Beason and Davis out of the season early, their chances of another injury are increased. If one were to go down, it will probably be Davis coming off of his third ACL tear. With the team recently resigning Jordan Senn, there might not be as huge of a need as previously thought. Team Need- 6
Defensive Backs (13): The Panthers got lit up last year against the pass, but with an improved defensive line putting better pressure, you can look forward to the numbers allowed to go down. Key free agents have also been added like Haruki Nakumura and Reggie Smith. These two are going to compete for the starting job but could look to improve special teams if they do not get the job. I would still look to get a corner with either the first or second round, depending on where the Panthers decide to pick a defensive lineman. Team Need- 7
Special Teams (3): Looking at three you might think that those are kicker, punter, and long snapper, but instead there are two kickers, 0 punters, and a resign Jansen at long snapper. Newly acquired kicker Medlock is looking to take the starting job from a struggling Olindo Mare, but Medlock can also punt like he did in Canada.
If a decent punter is not found in round six or seven, do not fear, you might however see a signing of a punter in free agency.