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The first round gets all the glory, but it's the second round where the Panthers can make some noise.
Thus far we've concentrated on looking at potential first round picks for the Carolina Panthers to select with the 14th overall selection. These players are the needle movers, and the household names -- but it's the second round where the team really need to hit. It's never easy to make the right selection, but it's considerably easier to get enticed on a risky pick in the second round, than the first -- often leading to bad decisions. Today we look at some names for the second round selection.
In their second consecutive draft without a third round pick, the Panthers will need to ensure they strike gold with their second day decision. Early fears surrounding OG Amini Silatolu were erased towards the end of the season, when he really came into his own. Carolina will need to make another solid second round choice if they hope to turn this team into a winning organization.
The analyst-favorites for the first round pick have been either defensive tackle, or wide receiver. Meanwhile, the fan base wants to see the team support Cam Newton more, and bolster the offensive line with a right guard or tackle. All are sound decisions, but with extreme depth at the guard and receiver positions, perhaps the Panthers will wait until the second round to improve the team there. There's also a bevy of possibilities in the secondary they could explore.
In a perfect world FS Kenny Vaccaro would be available in the second round, but he's making a Mark Barron-esque surge that could lead to a team taking him in the top-15 picks (heck, even Carolina could). However, if the Panthers are looking for an addition to their secondary, cornerback Xavier Rhodes of Florida State should be a huge consideration. What we know so far from both Ron Rivera and Dave Gettleman is that they're size obsessed. They like big players, or players who play big -- to this end the 6-1, 217-pound Rhodes could be just what the team needs, especially if they cut Chris Gamble as expected. He could very well be a late-first round choice -- time will tell.
If Carolina want to duplicate 2012 and take an offensive guard in the second round, they could do a lot worse than either North Carolina's Johnathan Cooper, or Alabama's Barrett Jones. The former played left guard, but projects to a typical right guard, who could slot in early and immediately improve the protection quickly. When it comes to Barrett Jones, his skills are undeniable -- but it take a small leap of faith. Playing center for the Crimson Tide he's been excellent, but he projects as a do-everything offensive lineman who could play every position on the line. Sure, he might be a little too much of a 'jack of all trades', but as we saw last year, the Panthers could use a guy who could play wherever, whenever.
Brandon LaFell continues to evolve as a receiver, and 2012 was the greatest example of this. However, the Panthers can't ignore the WR spot much longer. Steve Smith is getting older, and while he's still one of the league's best receivers, the team need to have someone trained up and ready to shoulder some of the burden. It's here where Justin Hunter from Tennessee and DeAndre Hopkins of Clemson could both come in play. Both have their issues, lacking either strength or precision -- but they could be potential #1 receivers with time and tutelage.
Five players to watch -- all at need positions. As the off-season progresses we'll break down each position in depth, but if you are curious about these guys watch the videos in this post and tell us what you think in the coments.