Panthers 2018 NFL Draft: A focus on the future
The Carolina Panthers upcoming draft will be critical to the future of the franchise…
Carolina Panthers interim general manager Marty Hurney is expected to retain his position through the NFL Draft and perhaps until new ownership is assigned. Unfortunately, being without an owner for the short term opens up a lot of uncertainty surrounding Carolina and decisions that will impact their future.
Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks remains a candidate to fill coaching vacancies in Arizona and Tennessee. Should he leave, the Panthers will be filling both coordinator roles this offseason. Coach Ron Rivera has already dismissed former offensive coordinator Mike Shula and named Norv Turner as his replacement.
Despite the unknown and cloud of uncertainty over the franchise, Rivera had his contract extended to provide a sense of stability inside the locker room. After three divisional titles, four playoffs and a Super Bowl appearance in the last five seasons, he has earned it. However, his leadership teamed with Hurney in the upcoming NFL Draft may be his biggest impact to date.
Typically, teams are looking for an immediate play maker in round one of the draft and Carolina has a number of positions to choose from. An offensive lineman, safety or wide receiver all could hear their name called when the Panthers are on the clock but it doesn’t end there.
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Carolina has a roster filled with significant contributors nearing the end of extremely productive careers, a majority of which were spent with the Panthers. Julius Peppers, Mike Adams, Derek Anderson, Thomas Davis, Charles Johnson, Ryan Kalil, Greg Olsen and Jonathan Stewart all have spent over a decade in the league and will be 31-years old or older entering the 2018 season.
Anderson, Johnson and Peppers are all unrestricted free agents and each of the other five are entering the final year of their current contracts. Drafting not only for an immediate impact in round one but finding players who can contribute and fill the roles of these players in later rounds will be an extremely difficult task.
Next: 2018 Away Opponents Preview
With so many questions and a wealth of talent soon leaving, the upcoming Panthers NFL Draft is arguably the most important since the 1995 expansion picks set to field their initial team.