Six undrafted free agents have already been signed to the Carolina Panthers…
The Carolina Panthers opened Day 3 of the NFL Draft by selecting a tight end, one of the critical positions of importance when the process began. Indiana tight end Ian Thomas became the fifth such player on the current roster, but has a legitimate opportunity to make the final 53-man roster behind Greg Olsen and Chris Manhertz.
A contract extension for Olsen prior to the draft, lessened the need for using a high pick on a tight end but someone needs to be added soon who can provide a similar target for quarterback Cam Newton in the passing game. The addition of Thomas has potential as the third day unfolded with a few surprises.
While no pick really stood out from the others, Panthers general manager Marty Hurney was expected to add either an offensive lineman or running back at some point. The offseason losses of starters Jonathan Stewart and Andrew Norwell at each of the positions, left obvious openings.
As the NFL Draft continued, the Panthers would ultimately be on the clock during five separate occasions. Tight end, defensive end, two linebackers and a defensive tackle were the positions targeted – a somewhat shocking revelation.
However, once the draft concluded, Hurney and the Panthers went to work addressing the two offensive positions that had been abandoned throughout the past three days. According to The Charlotte Observer, Carolina has already signed six undrafted free agents to contracts.
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Kyle Allen, QB – Houston
Brendan Mahon, C/G – Penn State
Kyle Bosch, C/G – West Virginia
Taylor Hearn, G – Clemson
Reggie Bonnafon, RB/WR/QB – Louisville
Tracy Sprinkle, DT – Ohio State
Three inside linemen on offense and one interior defensive lineman make sense given the departure of Norwell and Star Lotulelei on defense, but the late justification points to another solution. It appears both Ron Rivera and Hurney believe the answer to Norwell’s departure was already on the roster. If not, the protection of Newton may again be an issue next season.
Bonnafon, a versatile athlete who may have his choice of positions, will likely wind up competing for repetitions at running back in Norv Turner’s newly designed offense. Allen, a quarterback, was also added to help limit the wear and tear on Newton during preseason play and should compete with Garrett Gilbert, who impressed last offseason.
More players will be added before the start of training camp but it appears the answer at running back and offensive line was already present, prior to the draft.