The 2013 Carolina Panthers already have a different look in the front office with new General Manager David Gettleman. He’s just begun his work and his first deal was to pick up an inexpensive free agent DT, Colin Cole. I’ve already pointed out how that’s not a good sign for veteran Ron Edwards. The Panthers need cap room and Ron might well be gone. Such is the nature of the business.
With the rookie wage scale in mind, what should we be looking for in a well-done draft?
The most obvious to me is to consider trading down out of the #14 overall spot. If they stay and WR Cordorrelle Patterson is there, he might wind up being a great choice. It depends on Pro days at the various college campuses with a lot of “name” players sitting the combine out this year.
With a trade down, they swap places with the lower-ranked pick usually for multiple later ones or their second-rounder as well. The exceptionally deep draft in DL talent this year, more specifically at the DT position, means the Panthers can get a starting DT even at pick 32 overall.
The Panthers enter the 2013 draft just like they did the 2012 draft – without a 3rd-round pick. Carolina’s third round choice belongs to the Niners via the Frank Alexander trade last year. For Rivera’s sake, a similar trade this year might be in order so the Panthers could be busy dealing throughout.
Since we agree the DT area is a top priority and I mentioned Cordarrelle Patterson, the Miami Dolphins at 12 are looking heavily at free agent Mike Wallace, who is possibly going to make $13-15 million a year. He’s widely regarded as the fastest man in the NFL and the most dangerous receiver to take it for 6 after the catch simply with that speed.
As such, he’s going to command a lot of money. It’s money the Dolphins are willing to spend with their talented young gun in QB Ryan Tannehill, and he’s a guy who can get the ball downfield to such a receiver. Tannehill has also shown a willingness to attempt those passes but his help at WR in 2012 was thin to put it kindly.
The reason I dwell on this is that it could make the option to trade down a little more difficult. The Dolphins could ink Wallace, then take WR Patterson at 12 and make the Panthers look hard at Keenan Allen from California or the other way around. If that’s the case, both teams will still be looking to draft a DT with their following pick because that looks like Miami’s other big area of need with corner possibly being up there.
However Gettleman’s strategy plays out, I’m looking for one of the top-6 or so WRs in the draft – again if they go DT-WR instead of WR-DT. That would be ideal, and the safer way this year is to go WR-DT.
If so, don’t be surprised to see Gettleman take the best WR available at 14, assuming it’s either fellow I’ve mentioned here. At this point, anyone else, aside from possibly La. Tech’s Marcus Patton, might be a bit of a reach.
After rounds 1 and 2, they have no 3rd round pick again but have one in each of the remaining rounds.
I’d look at an OG next, and some combination of TE, 2nd DT, 2nd WR, FS and/or OLB. I’m not quite sure as to the coaching staff’s confidence level of the state of the secondary, but the focus will probably be on WR, OG, and TE on offense while the interior DL needs new bodies, the OLB corps could use someone new because I think Beason’s out, and they don’t want to depend on Thomas Davis’ trick knee.
Perhaps D.J. Campbell can breathe some new life into a below-average group of safeties, but SS Charles Godfrey is capable if unspectacular while the FS position is a weakness. Campbell is the key here.
The need at WR along with the lack of a third round pick complicated with the aforementioned thin WR class makes trading down a dicey proposition if the Carolina Panthers are looking to get not just 3 starters but an heir for aging wideout Steve Smith. The priority placed upon that position depends on the thoughts on Brandon LaFell.
I thought he made some key first-down catches, but had that famous drop-six. I’d like another weapon for Cam out there, myself.
With multiple needs on defense, sometimes the path is to just outscore your opponents, and the Indianapolis Colts showed drafting heavily on offense can produce playoff dividends and that’s a tempting direction to go.
They could get a WR in the first, another or a TE in the second, a guard in the 4th, and the TE or WR they didn’t draft in the second in the 5th before they draft on defense.
If David Gettleman can get them effective and inexpensive help in free agency and pulls off a draft that nets 3 or 4 new starters on offense, the 2013 Carolina Panthers would field a top-five NFL offense.
I really hope he can pull the rabbit out of the hat.
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