First of all, I want to say that I do recognize the need for OL in Carolina, especially the OT position. However, I just don't want to go OL in the first round of the draft...or the 2nd. I think WR and CB are bigger needs right now. Some will say that another receiver won't help if Cam doesn't have time to throw. Well I appreciate the obvious remarks from some people, but I don't know how many of his sacks came from a lack of receivers getting open, or the lack of a bigger target in some situations. Also, I don't know the quality of the route running over the course of the season. We've mentioned LaFell has a tendency to round out his routes instead of making precise cuts. I don't think Ginn even had that many routes to run.
Then you look at the running game. You say another receiver won't help the run game if our guys can't get past the line of scrimmage. This is also obviously true. However, it seemed to me that D-Will simply didn't have the burst and explosion he once had. Now I could be wrong, and I don't have a statistically accurate way to measure if my opinion is true or not, but I know I'm not the only one to say that during the season. Maybe D-Will can't explode in and out of cuts as fast as he used to, and maybe he can't outrun defenders like he used to. Let's not forget that LBs are fast as hell in the NFL as well.
I'm not trying to defend the OL too much. They clearly had problems, but there are several ways to help them such as receivers getting open quicker, running precise routes, and RBs getting to the hole quicker. Barner could probably get to the hole quicker than D-Will, I'm sure of it, but that doesn't make him a better option at RB. Usain Bolt could do the same, but nobody has tried to sign him as a RB. Tolbert's strength is not speed, and Stew hardly played.
Lastly, we simply had a lot of OL hurt, especially at the guard position. We get Kugbila, WIlliams and Silatolu back, and the OG position is much improved. The OL needs help, but it's not as bad off as the WRs and CBs. That is why I would not draft OL until the 4th round, and I would bring in a FA OL. The better FA OL will cost less than the receivers, and don't have as steep a learning curve when it comes to chemistry, timing and the playbook. And there will be many FA OT available who may be able to take Bell's job on the first day of camp. The FA options I would bring in to take a look at are Michael Oher, Roger Saffold, Eric Winston, Tyson Clabo, Eugene Monroe, and Brandon Albert. For a complete list of all OL FAs, check out this link...http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap2000000316567/article/2014-nfl-free-agents-position
You have to wonder, though, on a scale of 1 - 10, how high does a RT have to rate to be an improvement over Bell? We get some OGs back and bring in an upgrade at RT, and we've made real progress. Of course, we would need to re-sign Gross also.
The WR position is a greater need to me because when all of our receivers were completely healthy, none of them were open. Smitty made many great plays, and LaFell can be impressive at times. Ginn has a lot of speed, of course. But then again, all those guys dropped a lot of passes, and simply disappeared at times. FA receivers cost more than OL, and I think a top tier WR can have a more immediate impact, especially bigger ones like Donte Moncrief and Brandon Coleman (both of them are not 1st rd picks), and also Kelvin Benjamin. Now a guy who is smaller than Benjamin, but may have better hands and run better routes could also be a viable option, like maybe Matthews or Beckham. But I don't think any FA receivers who could really make a difference are going to be affordable and/or worth the money. There are no FA receivers available who are true #1 WRs. They could be starters in Carolina, but that doesn't make them #1 caliber players. I would love to have Decker, Nicks or Maclin, but at what price? And if we bring in one of those guys, I would still draft a receiver in the 1st round. I'd rather bring in a FA TE than a receiver...someone who blocks better than Olsen, and is more of a threat in the passing game than Hartsock.
Well that's my two cents and my logic on why I don't want OL in the 1st round. If we don't sign a OT in FA, though, I would not be surprised to see us draft one.