Yes, it is ridiculously early to be looking ahead to 2014 in July 2013, but the NFL.com has just put out a list of its 50 most talented players in college football, so here are some observations:
Next year will be top-heavy at a few key positions of interest to the Panthers: WR, OT, and OLB.
There are also 9 Quarterbacks listed in the top 50 and, while Bridgewater seems to be the only resounding top 10 pick, I think we can safely expect more QBs drafted in the first round of 2014 than there were in 2013.
This looks to be an awful draft for Safeties, with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (a name so funny, it laughs at itself) the only Safety listed in the top 50 players. While the dearth of quality Safeties is a concern initially, on the list of team needs I would list it behind WR and OT, which means we should be worrying about drafting one in the 3rd-4th round as opposed to the 1st-2nd round anyways.
Speaking of WRs and OTs, as mentioned before the draft is top-heavy with them. If the Panthers find themselves drafting in the top half of the draft once again, the chances seem pretty decent for being able to grab one of these talents. The problem comes with the fact that, currently, the top WRs and OTs are mostly listed as t10 talent with only 2 WRs and 0 OTs listed in the 10-32 range. That could be a problem if, as we all hope, the Panthers end up selecting in the bottom half of the first round.
If the Panthers do have a good season and stick with a BPA philosophy, then, as the list stands now, I think it most probable that one or two of the OLBs drops to us to become BPA at a position of relative need. CB could also be a possibility in the 20s.
So, assuming this list holds true (which we all know it won't), how would you feel about the possibility of coming out of the first round with a position other than OT or WR if all the blue-chips at those positions get drafted ahead of us? If we are drafting in the bottom half, would you want to pull an Atlanta and trade the house to get into the t10 for a #1 WR? A future LT? Post your thoughts and debate in the comment section, it's the off-season after all!