Recently there was a comment posted on an article I wrote, asking for more draft predictions, or at least that’s the way I took it. So I started to think about the draft and how I felt about the previous predictions that have been made and I came to the conclusion that most sites have predicted us picking a Defensive Tackle in most scenarios, either in a trade down or the 14th pick that was graciously given to us for this year’s draft. The more time I spent pondering the draft the more I began to think of the Carolina Panthers biggest need coming into the new season and it is not a Defensive Tackle.
The Panthers Defensive Line, at least to me, is very competent if not one of the top Defensive Lines in the NFC South. Granted our depth at the Defensive Tackle position is more than lacking, but we still have one of the greatest free agency pickups of last year in “Big” Dwan Edwards. Sione Fua and Frank Kearse provide some depth at the position, and I still expect the Panthers to pick up a Defensive Tackle in the first, second, or fouth round regardless. But our Defensive Ends are stellar. Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy proved to be one of the better Defensive End pairs in the NFL, with a combined number of 33.5 sacks on the year. Plus Frank Alexander proved to be a potential star for the future Panthers as a rookie.
On the other side of the ball, the Offensive Line is a completely different story. To me, the Panthers biggest need coming into the draft is their lack of depth with the Offensive Line. Jordan Gross has proved to be a great Panther at his height, but his time with the Panthers is more than likely coming to a close. He’s old. Like it or not, but Jordan Gross is now old (32) and he isn’t getting any younger. The other predicted starters are Ryan Kalil, Amini Silatolu, Byron Bell, and Geoff Hangartner. Now Ryan Kalil is a great player, one of the better Centers in the NFL, but Bell, Silatolu, and Hangartner need some work.
Bell is a good, not great, Offensive lineman. He has proved his worth to the Panthers and I hope he stays. Bell works his tail off, and to me his work has not gone unnoticed. Amini obviously has a lot of ground to make up, though he has potential coming from a D-2 University. Now Hangartner is a mess. Like Bryon Bell, Hangartner works his tail off too and he came into the situations that were presented to him last year with a determined attitude for success. He just wouldn’t be a starter on any other NFL team. Now that was an exaggeration so don’t beat me up over it, I just don’t think he is a good player, to me Geoff is a space eater. He is just holding a spot for a future Panther to come and take it.
So for the first pick in the 2013 NFL draft I think the Panthers should take an Offensive Lineman. The draft is full of great Defensive Tackles this year so I’m sure there would be one around by the Panthers second round pick. I’d like to see the Panthers come out with Lane Johnson out of Oklahoma. While doing some research on the topic, I was greatly impressed with Johnson. I feel he is possibly the biggest reason for Landry Jones’ success at OU. Look this kid up, he is a good player. Though Luke Joeckel is the best Offensive Lineman in the draft, I really do think Lane Johnson is a close second. D.J. Fluker out of Alabama and Manalik Watson out of Florida State are also some of the more competent OL’s in a draft that seems to be lacking in that department.
This year’s draft is full of Defensive Tackles and not so full of Offensive lineman. So why not take an Offensive Lineman in the first round instead of a Defensive Tackle, a position that will definitely supply more than competent players in later rounds. Those are my thoughts, but what are yours? Please leave them in the comments below.