The Carolina Panthers are in desperate need of help on offense but the first round of the draft could bring another pass rusher into the fold. Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy worked out for the Panthers on Tuesday, according to Gil Brandt -- now the speculation begins.
Up to this point the widespread assumption has been that Carolina would take a wide receiver or offensive tackle. It makes sense to see why, but Dave Gettleman understands better than most that Rome wasn't built in a day. Slow, methodical team building has been his calling card, even if it means working with a sub-par offense in 2014.
It's hard not to see a top DE work out and try to read the tea leaves. Does this mean the possibility of Greg Hardy remaining in Carolina is dwindling? Will the team simply keep their pass rushers stocked for the future, regardless of what happens to Hardy? These are the questions raised by working out Ealy.
In reality it could be both, or neither. Such is the life of a team truly looking to draft players they believe to be the top talent, not fill their needs. This could simply be a move that allows the coaching staff to pick the 53 best players to field, but we are noticing a trend in the team's pre-draft visits so far -- very little in the way of top WR talent.
The Panthers have now used roughly a third of their visits, in the scheme of things that's not a lot. However, it is interesting to note that a minority of the guys brought in are widely considered to be first round talents.
Phillip Brown, WR, Ohio State (7-UDFA grade)
Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State (1st round grade)
Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri (1st round grade)
Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina (1st round grade)
Cody Lattimer, WR, Indiana (5th round grade)
Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia (1-2 round grade)
Billy Turner, OT, North Dakota State (2-3 round grade)
Jason Verrett, CB, TCU (1-2 round grade)
Larry Webster, DE, Bloomsburg (7-UDFA grade)
Confused yet? Hopefully the final 21 visits will round out the picture, but right now it's impossible to tell where the Panthers will go in the first round. If nothing else it will keep the draft exciting. We're yet to see a glut of talent in the second and third round visit with Carolina, expect to see that later.
Selecting a defensive end with the first round pick wouldn't make too many people happy, but it's a very smart move -- especially if you're concerned you'll lose Hardy next year. It wont be fun, it wont be flashy but when it's all said and done it is the best way the Panthers keep their strengths strong.