Now that the draft is over and there are plenty of posts being written regarding whether or not GM Dave Gettleman and the Panthers got the most out of the five draft picks they selected, I thought I would start my Catscratchreader career by discussing next years draft, and what I view to be a very exciting draft, if Gettleman does what I believe is best for the Panthers... Offense.
Now it's obvious that Carolina has some question marks in the secondary- Most notably a SS to pair with Charles Godfrey for the future... However, having watched a bunch of tape, I strongly believe that the Corners on the Carolina Roster are in fact hugely underrated and can have a big impact on the potential success of the franchise... This may sound bizarre since everyone is saying that the secondary is in real trouble, but if you dig a little you will realise this is not the case. With Cap Munerlyn as one of the best slot corners in the NFC, and the three young, physical and greatly improving players in Josh Norman, Josh Thomas and James Dockery (the latter of which was fantastic at the end of last season), and finally the veterans that Gettleman brought in in Florence, Campbell and Moore, I have faith that this unit will surprise a lot of people this year.
What's more, Carolina have arguably the second best front seven in starters and depth in the NFL (behind San Fransisco's absurd team)... A young Star, a 6 sack DT, two double digit sack DE's, the DROY last year and not to mention Jon Beason who until his injury problems was one of the best MLB's in the NFL... This kind of talent will mask any problems at the backend, which I feel wont even be very many.
So ANYWAY, back to the main point at hand. The last two years Carolina has spent most of its draft picks on improving a dismal defense, and now that has happened, the offense has almost been forgotten. There is an obvious platform to build around- Cam Newton. There is a very good RB trio, and there is a big physical inside presense with Silatolu, Kalil and Kugbila. So now, to look at what the panthers need to do in the 2014 draft:
Offensive tackles (2) and a world class Wide receiver.
In my opinion, the panthers would not be insane to use its first 5 picks on offense.
The first round NEEDS to be dedicated to taking the best and most explosive WR available- In my opinion Sammy Watkins... Watch his tape from 2011 and the beginning of 2012 (before injury). This guy is ridiculous. Has 4.3 speed, ridiculous explosiveness and is a very well developed Route runner. What's more? Playing at Clemson means if the panthers select him, he'll only be an hour away from arriving at the facility! And local and loyal, although stupid if used as the base of a selection, is something that cannot be ignored. The only problem? He wont make it out of the top ten, so if the panthers do have a good season which i think they will, Gettleman MUST trade up to get him. This is key.
Second round- Offensive tackle (Right tackles in particular)
Obviously its early to tell now, but a few names that are worth noting are Zac Martin (ND) and James Hurst (NC) who both have the size and range to be successful in the NFL. I strongly agree with Gettlemans philosophy to build from the two lines out. History supports this- San fransisco has the best O and D line in the NFL, and the Ravens have a very strong O and D line as well. And that comes from investing high picks, which is what the panthers must do.
3rd and 4th round- A LT to learn from Gross during Gross' presumed final year in the NFL, and another wide receiver. Gross is a team player and a fantastic LT, meaning that he has the knowledge to share and teach a young player, and will be more than willing to do so.
Final 3 rounds- OG, TE, and depth
Cam Newton is extremely talented, but needs firstly a dominant Offensive line to give him time to make his throws, and talent at receiver to throw to. Even if defense is not the strong point in Carolina, if youre putting up big numbers on offense, then it doesnt matter. Just ask Tom Brady or Drew Brees.
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed my first article, and leave any comments about other players you think the Panthers should target or other strategies, below!