Breaking down the Carolina Panthers depth chart will reveal a glaring oversight on the part of many prognosticators and fans. The Panthers have a very deep roster. With multiple injuries, several young players received very valuable experience and knowledge. Only 3 positions were found to need upgrades or depth; DT, CB, and QB. Regardless of your stance on the QB situation, it is hard to argue that any of the quarterbacks in the 2011 draft would fair better than Jimmy Clausen or Tony Pike at this point. Defensive tackle is a must have. The only position player I have listed of any value is Derek Landri, who will get better with time, but is still not a game changer. Corner back has some inexperienced depth and uncertainty surrounding Richard Marshall. The opinion of this blogger is that all 3 positions can and should be addressed via free agency and here is why;
There are enough good to great defensive tackles in this years draft that every third team could select one for the first 2 rounds and you would still have a handful of good defensive tackles left over. Add to this the fact that Aubrayo Franklin and Brandon Mebane are free agents who most likely will not be returning to their former teams. Both are young and very talented. My opinion, sign one of these free agents or select a DT in the 3rd round.
QB can and should be addressed through free agency, with players like Matt Hassleback, Bruce Gradkowski, and Chad Pennington hitting the market. If one of these players don't sign with Carolina, there are still a myriad of trades available. It is hard to decide whether or not Jimmy Clausen will be the answer at QB (I'm leaning toward no), the jury is still out on Tony Pike and Matt Moore. Either way, the answer to QB wont be answered by drafting another inexperienced and unproven QB. The Panthers will need a veteran.
CB offers some real intrigue on the part of drafting the best player available or looking for a free agent. There is only one CB in free agency worth taking: Nnamdi Asomugha. I'm pretty sure I don't need to clarify why this man would be a fantastic signing for any team outside of Oakland. In the draft, Patrick Peterson, Prince Amukamara, Brandon Harris, and Aaron Williams have great potential. This is also a position of great depth in the draft, so taking Peterson or Prince 1st isn't really a priority.
I like Nick Fairley. If I am Carolina, do I risk the number 1 pick on a DT who has only shown his dominance for one year? Do I want a player who cannot show the forethought to let up when a play is over? Think about this for a moment. How many drives have we, as Panther fans, seen negated due to a lack of thought on the part of a defensive player? Do we really want a player who makes excuses for being overly aggressive. Kris Jenkins was a beast and he received his share of penalties, but more often then not, he was an anchor and a catalyst for smart play. The only penalty you saw repeatedly from Jenkins was off sides, granted you saw it alot, but he knew when to let up.
If the draft happened today, the best player available would be a toss up between A.J. Green and Patrick Peterson. Peterson would receive the edge do to lack of depth on the chart and his ability to be an explosive punt returner.