Of course, you can qualify that to a slight degree ... no QB, RB or LB. You MIGHT be able to exclude DE as well. But excepting that, despite the team winning 13 games the past 2 years - and coming close to winning 7 or 8 more - there really isn't an area where the best player available won't improve this team.
QB: exclude. But there aren't any QBs who will be BPA at #14 anyway, even if some teams will reach on them.
RB: ditto. The highest rated RB in this draft is a 2nd round prospect.
OT: whether RT or LT, it would certainly help the team.
OG/C: doubt that an interior OL would be BPA anyway, but even if it were, it would help the running game and pass protection.
TE: no one with a #14 grade, but if there were, and if the Panthers were to adopt a 2 TE system, then yes it would help a lot.
WR: I have a higher opinion of the WRs in this draft than many do. I think that there are at least 3 or 4 that could be first round prospects. And yes, a WR who can make plays down the field would help the cause.
DT: no question. There will be DTs in that range, and whether we are talking about a NT to stop the run or an UT to rush the passer from the interior, it would be a huge help.
DE: Maybe kinda sorta. Can't have too many DEs as the Giants proved. Perhaps one of the current DEs could be moved inside?
LB: Even if there is an LB who would be BPA, exclude.
CB: Yes, it would help immensely, even if Gamble is retained.
FS/SS: Again, if he is the BPA, he will help the team.
And this doesn't just apply to the first round. This could arguably be the case for the first 3 rounds!
I personally believe that WR, OL, DT, safety, and CB are the biggest needs. However, a bigger need is to actually get good players. No Jeff Otah type busts in the first. No Terrell McClain type busts in the 3rd. Taking the BPA would decrease the risk of drafting a bad or mediocre player. Look at last year. Granted the Panthers didn't NEED Luke Kuechly because their LBs were already strong. But would you have rather had NT Dontari Poe, who was awful for Kansas City, instead? Or OT Riley Reiff, who only started 1 game last year on Detroit's bad offensive line?
The Panthers come close to winning a lot of games because they have a lot of good players, but the fall short in so many because they still need a lot of help at a number of positions. Getting the BPA in the first 3 rounds - increasing the chances of getting 3 good contributors as rookies - would help immensely. Had that been practiced the last couple of years, some regrettable picks like Joe Adams (1 reception for 7 yards) and the aforementioned McClain could have been avoided.
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