After Jordan Gross's retirement, we searched desperately for the answer at left tackle. Scrolling through free agent lists and 2014 NFL Draft prospect player rankings. We pleaded our cases for Eugene Monroe or Branden Albert in February then Joel Bitonio or Morgan Moses in March and April. It's May 13th, and the Panthers have yet to spend a pick or dime on acquiring an offensive tackle. But in the 3rd round of this year's draft, the Panthers found the answer at an interior position of the offensive line.
At 6'3" 310 lbs., and boasting a 34" reach, Trai Turner is NFL ready in terms of size. Back in March at Lucas Oil Stadium, Turner showcased his impressive physical tools, timing in at 4.93 and pumping out 25 reps on the bench press. Physically, he has it but Turner is often perceived to be a raw project amongst even the most prominent of Draft writers -- which is true to an extent but the clay is wet; Trai Turner is just 20 years old. Developmental project he is, but in 2013, he exemplified some impressive fundamental assets he already possesses at his youthful disposal. Turners game is speed, power, strength, and tenacity, but below are links to hard proof that they were just the foundation to his success as a Tiger. Keep in mind: he can't even buy a beer yet.
Interior pass rush is the root of the pure magic that is Cam Newton improvisation, forcing him to roll out of the pocket, and hence receivers must work back towards the ball. As you all know we've had a complete overhaul at the receiver position, and chemistry between Cam and this new group will continue to develop even late in to the season. Consistent flashes of color up the middle will seriously hinder this development of chemistry and timing. Enter Trai Turner and a healthy Amini Silatolu. The Panthers now have a legitimate interior in a division with Gerald McCoy and Paul Soiliai, and Geno Atkins and Ndmankong Suh on this year's Fall slate.
Turner has plenty of room to improve but he's ready to start at right guard right now. Barring injury, he'll start in Tampa week 1. That can't be definitively said about the rest of the draft class. For me, Turner was a 2nd round value player. Gettleman scooped him up with the 92nd pick. Grade: A