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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Draft Day: Needs

Today's the day (or the first of 3, obviously).

Some kid's going to become the newest Panther, a potential star, and
nearly instant millionaire (that wait for May/June contracts must be a
bear, I don't care if they do allow you loans on it). The Panthers
stand behind their Best Player Available (BPA) philosophy for this
draft, but the hope is, they'll fill legitimate needs this weekend.

I have grazed over my own wants, but haven't really tabled how I see
this team at this point. I'll be doing this by perceived need, not from
front to back:

Crucial Need:

*DT
The team has no legitimate starter at NT, and under tackle is manned by
the 33 year old Dwan Edwards. Sure, the team can move a guy inside from
DE on passing downs for UT, but you certainly don't get to those easy
passing downs that way either. So, this is a spot that the team could
burn two picks and not overdo things. You have to stop the run in this
division, especially if you want to do the weird things that DC Sean
McDermott and head coach Ron Rivera like to do on those deep passing
downs.

*Right Side OL
Jordan Gross is still fine on the left - he could play the right if
needed. Amini Silatolu, improving in many ways, still has time. But
the right side, where Geoff Hangartner and Garry Williams appear to be
slated to fight for RG - is awful. Byron Bell is a good run blocker and
didn't give up a lot of sacks, but had struggles with the deeper ball.
Bell should probably find his way into a starting spot regardless, but
an early pick might redefine where that would be.


Roleplayer Need:
*TE
Carolina has this as a sleeper need. They have Greg Olsen, a
cornerstone. Olsen played 98% of snaps at TE, a pretty remarkable clip.
They don't need a 2nd guy to be another Olsen - he's young, he's
impressive, and having another one of him would be prohibitively costly.
But, could they pull up a guy with size and groom him? Absolutely.
They do need a 2nd guy, and Ben Hartsock is just a blocker. So this
isn't as much a future need, as it is a 2nd guy who can provide at least
one of these traits in excess - size or speed. Could go either way.
Doesn't have to be a complete player.

Wildcard Need:
*CB, S
Carolina has stockpiled roleplayers here, almost to a fault.
Competition could provide the starters - maybe two of the three nickels
Dave Gettleman has signed can start, maybe not. There's talent and
depth at corner. There's not a complete player among the group, so a
6'1 corner with long arms is probably still on Ron Rivera's wishlist.
Same at safety, they have one spot up for grabs with three potential
starters vying for it. But if the right guy came along - probably a SS
based on Charles Godfrey's move and acquiring Mike Mitchell(a bigger SS)
- the team could make an argument for upgrade. Like at CB, there isn't
a need for depth, they have bodies. But without a clear starter yet, if
you can find one, great.

The future is in need here too - all the acquisitions are one year
deals, and Godfrey himself becomes cuttable in a year.


Future Need:

*WR
I have this low. I know plenty will disagree. But, the crux of most
WR arguments settles around Steve Smith and his age. If you wanted to
argue that Brandon LaFell and the other expected top 5 in the depth
chart outside Smith are free agents, feel free. But for now, it feels
like they have guys they want. A high-value player provides a good
future, and the various short-term vets do allow the team to cultivate a
young player. They do have young players - so anyone new coming in has
to be dynamic - but there's just not room, and there are many needs.


*DE
I have this low, and only this high because you never know on a BPA
guy. The starters are obviously top notch, and I really like backup
Frank Alexander. Thomas Keiser is topped out physically, but there's
something to like about him too. A best-player after the first could
provide insurance on Greg Hardy's contract at the end of the year. So
do you worry about who starts here in '14, or take care of a ton of
needs before then?

*Left Side OL
Gross' new contract gives him two years. Bruce Campbell isn't an heir
apparent at this point. Amini Silatolu could use a push. This is a
late-round thing, but likely pushed to next year.

Low priority
*ST Specialists
Graham Gano and Brad Nortman are middling players. There aren't enough
resources to really impact this for now, and if so, would likely be
preferred for vets. Return duties and coverage should be fine, and most
of those guys are back after finishing 2012 strong.

No real need:
*QB, RB, LB.
I could see a BPA LB because this team is LB crazy, but if they're
happy with their current stable of LBs (which has a reigning rookie of
the year and 5 fullly vested vets), there's not a lot of room. Any
rookie would be for flexibility for next year's potential cuts. But,
like QB and RB, what happens next year is next year, and any of these
jobs would be backups then as well.
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