On the eighth day of TGH Draftmas, we look at the Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers made the Super Bowl two seasons ago, but last season and finished the season at 6-10, which was last in the NFC South. They still have a lot of quality players and with a good draft, can make a push for the playoffs again.
Carolina was a very average offensive team scoring 23.1 points per game. Their bread and butter is the running game which was 10th best in the league, but the passing game was a problem, as they ranked 21st. Cam Newton has Greg Olsen as a target, but needs wide receivers outside of Kelvin Benjamin to throw to. He also would like to have an offensive line to open up holes in the running game and protect him and a younger running back to take advantage of that too.
Defensively the Panthers were good at stopping the run, giving up 91.6 yards per game. The Panther pass defense was one of the worst in the league and will likely need multiple improvements. With 47 sacks last season, the pass rush is good, but they still could want some defensive end help. Luke Keuchly is the best linebacker in the league and the Panthers will hope he is past his concussion from last season and stays healthy in the years to come.
This draft will most likely be spent on getting multiple offensive players to help Cam Newton, but some defensive players could also fill some holes.
Panthers’ PICKS AND NEEDS
The Panthers have eight picks in this draft to help their pass defense and jump-start their offense.
First round: (1) No. 8
Second Round: (2) No. 40, 64
Third Round: (1) No. 98
Fourth Round: (1) No. 115
Fifth Round: (1) No. 152
Sixth Round: (1) No. 192
Seventh Round: (1) No. 233
These eight picks will help the Panthers acquire impact players that can help lead them back to the playoffs.
With this in mind, I will say the biggest needs in no particular order are:
Offensive Tackle- The Panthers did sign Matt Kalil, but even if he somehow pans out, they could still use help.
Running Back – Jonathan Stewart can’t play forever and a backfield mate for Cam Newton could be dynamic.
Wide Receiver – Outside of Kelvin Benjamin, no wide receiver on the roster will be a concern for defenses.
Safety- The pass defense needs to be improved.
Panthers’ TARGETS AND THOUGHTS
Let’s take a look at the first three rounds. As with the other Draftmas profiles, there will be no trades.
Pick #8: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
In a best case situation, Leonard Fournette will be available for the Panthers. With Newton and Fournette in the same backfield, defenses would take more of the punishment than the ball carrier. Ron Rivera has already said that no spot is too high to take a running back and that their main ball carrier can’t be their quarterback. If Fournette is gone, the Panthers may elect to take Dalvin Cook. If they miss out on Fournette the best option might be to trade down.
Pick #40: Zay Jones, WR, ECU
Zay Jones impressed at the senior bowl and is the all-time leading pass catcher in the FBS. He isn’t fast, but has good size. His hands are great. In order to get the pass offense where it needs to be, a reliable receiver is needed. Having another talented receiver should open up more opportunities for Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin.
Pick #64: Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
He did have trouble with injuries at Auburn, but Lawson was effective when he was healthy. Lawson had nine sacks last season and was an All-SEC performer. If he can stay healthy, Lawson can be a good pass rusher for the Panthers and play for a long time.
Pick #98: Marcus Maye, S, Florida
Maye is a hard hitting safety who plays the run very well. He gave up 10 touchdowns through the air at Florida and doesn’t have the greatest ball skills. With time to develop, he could be a viable starter in the NFL.
The Panthers are a few key players from getting back to the playoffs. With Cam Newton and Luke Keuchly on the team, they will always have a chance. If they have a good draft, Carolina will be right back in the thick of things.
Thank you for joining us on our eighth day of TGH Draftmas! Check back tomorrow where we will be bringing you the Draft Profile of the Cincinnati Bengals!