The Carolina Panthers have a variety of equally important needs. This makes trying to predict the team's draft picks very difficult. In 2011 they were going to take a quarterback -- that much was clear, in 2012 they spent far more time with defensive players than offensive ones. Follow the trends, and you can start to see some plans come together. From these we can come up with some assertions on what might happen on draft day.
Obviously nothing is set in stone, and a lot can change with visits over the next month. There's a long-standing tradition in Carolina where you can count out a first round prospect if they haven't visited Charlotte. While you might not always hear about these visits, rest assured that nobody is getting taken early without being thoroughly vetted -- this is just common sense.
Wide receiver early, or not at all
It's fun to look at the deep cuts, and find that gem stuck with a bad quarterback -- but this year that doesn't seem to be the Panthers' MO. They have enough developmental question marks behind Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell, and now it seems they clearly want a play maker.
Look no further than the players the team has invested the most resources in scouting: Keenan Allen, DeAndre Hopkins, Tavon Austin, and Stedman Bailey. All four of these receivers will be selected in the first two rounds, and all four have spent at least some time with Ricky Proehl.
Don't expect a project in April, they'll look for someone ready to contribute right now -- or wait until next year.
Guard help early? Don't bank on it
The appeal of drafting Chance Warmack is obvious. He's the best guard prospect in a decade, depending on who you listen to -- and that includes David DeCastro. Here's the problem: Warmack hasn't met with the Panthers yet. The team attended Alabama's pro day, but heck, so did all 32 teams. With a large number of prospects, all at need positions it's impossible to determine if they were there for Warmack, or focused more on Dee Milliner and Jesse Williams.
Dave Gettleman is an old-school football guy, and interior offensive lineman are regarded as a luxury in these circles. Yes, the Panthers need to find a new right guard, but it appears they're casting their eye towards mid-round players like Alvin Bailey, rather than looking for a first-round elite talent.
Secondary is set, for better or worse
As it stands the Panthers have invested very little time in cornerbacks or safeties in the pre-draft process, while spending ample time and money in free agency. With three CB signings, and a safety added -- it's probably safe to say they're not going to be in play for secondary help this draft.
Things chance, and obviously things could be shaken up if a player is available who they didn't expect. Ultimately the feeling is that they're going to evaluate the position in 2013, and see what happens from there.
Expect anything at defensive tackle
When it comes to first round DTs, the team has looked at everyone. Leaving no stone unturned, the Panthers have met with a lot of players are really looked deeply at the position. The feeling right now is that it's likely the team will go any combination of DT/WR in the first and second rounds, adding talent to both sides of the ball.
This in the fun part where you get to salivate a little about who is available in the first and second round. One has to imagine the team would be thrilled if any of these scenarios apply:
- Star Lotulelei or Sharrif Floyd available at #14
- Jesse Williams or DeAndre Hopkins available at #44
Chances are slim any of these could occur, but it's fun to dream.