So with four games to go and the Panthers' season effectively over I thought I'd take a look at the upcoming draft. I will be spending the next four games evaluating the team and thinking about where the Panthers need to improve.
This helps me with my draft scouting because I can then target certain positions (as the draft class is far too big to look at in its entirety).
At the moment here is where I'm at (subject to change!):
DT - D. and R. Edwards have done a solid job this year, but they're bandages on a gaping wound. They're also both 30+. Dwan might not even return as he is a FA. If he wants market value I can't see how we can afford him. Behind those two is not very much - even though I like Kearse and Neblett has been solid in the past in rotation. Hardy, Johnson and the surprising Alexander all need help from the interior of the D-line to succeed.
RG - Hangartner started there this year. He was mediocre. Once Kalil went down, Hangartner shifted to C and we've had a revolving door there ever since. Geoff provides good depth in a pinch, but he's not good enough at either position. A good RG (or LG and switch Silatolu) would make a world of difference - a studly one and I think our run game is reinvigorated.
LT - It's sad to see, but Gross isn't the player he used to be. He's the wrong side of 30 and he's being paid like an elite player. Bell is doing a fine job at RT so there's no need to shift Gross their either. Campbell gets my vote as the internal option. Externally - the draft is the only viable option. I don't want to reach for one though. BPA or take an athlete who needs work on his technique later on.
FS - We don't have one. Nakamura is awful. After him it's STs players. Godfrey isn't the best SS either, but he's going to be tough to shift on the contract Hurney gave him.
Gravy picks (Positions I'd like to improve/if the player is BPA it's a no-brainer):
TE - I'd really like a complete TE to offset Olsen. Newton and the Panthers have been at their most effective when playing the 2 TE set. Someone that can block well and catch the ball would be nice. At the moment we only have Barnidge (who can catch) and Hartsock (who can't block).
CB - Gamble, Norman, Thomas are the top three. I can't see Munnerlyn staying (nor should he). We certainly need a 4th guy (or a 2nd guy and bump everyone down depending on talent), but it's something that the Panthers can wait and see on.
WR - There's no elite WR for Newton to throw to. Smith isn't the same guy he was 2 or 3 years ago. LaFell is stepping up, but his inconsistency makes him a #3 rather than a #2. Behind him is a host of guys that haven't done much.
OLB - Beason is going to have to shift to WLB if he wants to start, Kuechly is the better player. Davis is 30 and has had his knee re-constructed 3 times. Anderson is a JAG and should be a cap casualty. The Panthers have struggled to seal the edge against the run and also have had very little pass rush from the LBs. If there's a great OLB available I'd be tempted - NOT in the first though!
K - You don't tend to draft these guys, but the Panthers sorely need a reliable one.
Agree? Disagree? Have at it.