Team Needs: Carolina Panthers
NEEDS RATING KEY
5.0 - High priority. This is a position that is a glaring weakness and there is the likelihood that this team cannot compete next year without making a major addition here.
4.0 - Medium Priority. This is an area that is an obvious weakness, but the team isn't quite desperate to make a major move here possibly because they have some young potential. But this is an area that if the team cannot fix via free agency, will definitely use one of their picks in the first three or four rounds to supplement.
3.0 - Upgrade Potential. This is a position that isn't a weakness per se, but there is significant room for an upgrade. If the right player comes along they will certainly snag him, but if they don't fix this position with a major free agent addition or early round pick, then it's not the end of the world.
2.0 - Depth Need. An area where there is a need to add depth. Perhaps there is an aging veteran and they might want to start to look at grooming his heir apparent or replacement. Not likely to be a high priority and a position that more than likely will be address in the middle and late rounds rather than with a top pick.
1.0 - Future Need. This is an area that is not a priority, and doesn't initially appear as a need. But there is some room to develop some depth for perhaps two or more years down the line. This is usually an area that a team will look at in the late rounds if at all.
0.0 - Non-need. This is a position that is a strength of their team, they have a solid starter, capable depth, and/or a young player at the position that they like and want to develop. Very little possibility this area is addressed and would be the equivalent of a wasted draft pick.
Top 10 Needs
1. DT - 4.0
2. WR - 4.0
3. CB - 4.0
4. LB - 3.5
5. S - 3.0
6. DE - 2.5
7. RET - 2.5
8. OG - 2.0
9. RB - 1.5
10. OT - 1.5
Quarterback - Cam Newton shocked the world with a strong rookie campaign. Jimmy Clausen is currently slated to be the No. 2 since Derek Anderson could walk as a free agent. If so, they will likely try and add another veteran option since it's been largely implied that Rivera's coaching staff has minimal investment in Clausen. NEED: 1.5
Running Back - The big concern here is that Jonathan Stewart is entering the final year of his contract, and the team just awarded DeAngelo Williams with a big contract last summer. Can they afford to do the same for Stewart? If the answer is no, then the team needs to look into adding another young back in the draft to replace him in 2013 and beyond. Mike Goodson has been too unreliable to think he's a strong option. NEED: 1.5
Fullback - Richie Brockel is the incumbent, and it's doubtful they make any moves here besides bringing in some camp bodies to push him next summer. NEED: 1.0
Wide Receiver - Steve Smith blossomed with Newton's vertical passing, but the other receivers were fairly mediocre. While LaFell had his monents, and Legedu Naanee was adequate in the slot, neither offer the long-term potential to have bigger roles than they currently do. This team wants to find someone that can immediately slide in as the No. 2 option, but also be the long-term successor to Smith as the No. 1 option on the outside. NEED: 4.0
Tight End - Jeremy SHockey was very solid as the No. 2 tight end and he'll be a free agent. While the market isn't likely to be very big for a soon-to-be 32-year old tight end that has clearly lost a step. But it's not a guarantee that he's back. If not, then Gary Barnidge who missed all of last year with an ankle injury is a decent fallback, but they might seek to add more help via the draft. NEED: 1.5
Offensive Tackle - Jordan Gross is solid on the left, but the big concern is Jeff Otah. He's entering his contract year and has not managed to make it through a full NFL season healthy since entering the league in 2008. He's missed 28 games the past two years. While the team seems to like Byron Bell and Garry Williams as backups, it remains to be seen if they are committed to them as long-term options if Otah continues to miss time. That's why they could be looking at adding more depth here. NEED: 1.5
Offensive Guard - Wharton and Gross make a solid pair. The concern is the right guard spot. Geoff Hangartner was capable fill-in there, but he's a free agent. He should return, but he's better as a backup than starter at this point in his career. The team could try and plug guys like Bell, Geoff Schwartz here but there's room for improvement here. NEED: 2.0
Center - Ryan Kalil is as solid as they come, and the presence of Zack Williams and potentially Hangartner give them solid depth here. NEED: 0.0
Defensive Tackle - Rookies Terrell McClain and Sione Fua were overmatched as starters and they sorely missed Ron Edwards. But through the process of a steady stream of bodies coming in and out of the lineup, they should be set with their rotation with guys like Frank Kearse, Andre Neblett, and Jason Shirley flashing potential off the bench. But they really need to find someone that can solidify their run defense in the middle. NEED: 4.0
Defensive End - Charles Johnson is one of the league's best, and Greg Hardy is a nice complementary starter. but they could definitely get more production out of this position, and find another dynamic rusher that could move Hardy to the No. 3 spot where he could be more effective. NEED: 2.5
Linebacker - Thomas Davis has been unable to stay on the field due to multiple ACL tears, and while they want him back, he could be a cap casualty given he's due a large bonus in March. Beason should also be back, but given he's coming off an Achilles injury, it's going to take some time. Their top three remaining linebackers (Dan Connor, Omar Gaither, and Jordan Senn) are all free agents. Connor probably will have the best market as a free agent, but Senn probably is the best bet to return. But given the issues surrounding Davis and Beason, this team is going to need to at least shore up depth if not find two new starters here. NEED: 3.5
Cornerback - Chris Gamble is coming off a strong season, and Captain Munnerlyn was disappointing as a starter. But he should be capable if moved back to the nickel role. There, he could compete with Darius Butler for that gig. But they need to find a good No. 2 corner to put opposite Gamble, who is beginning to get up there in age. NEED: 4.0
Safety - This position is an area of weakness for this team. Despite being an average free safety, the Panthers gave Charles Godfrey a big extension last September. So it's likely if they are looking to upgrade this spot, Sherrod Martin who is also entering a contract year is the most vulnerable. Martin is more of a coverage guy that could push Godfrey at free safety, while this team looks for someone that can beef up their lacking run defense. NEED: 3.0
Kicker - Olindo Mare is an average field goal kicker, but one of the league's best kickoff men. The team signed Adi Kunalic late in the year to push him, and he's also known for being more of a kickoff guy than field goal kicker. But they already have the two players that will compete for this job, so adding more help isn't likely. NEED: 0.5
Punter - Jason Baker is solid, but he turns 34 in May and will be entering the final year of his contract. It's likely they bring in someone young to push him for his job this summer. NEED: 1.5
Return Specialist - Kealoha Pilares did flash some big play potential with some big returns late in the year, but both came in games on turf, and otherwise he was average. After a strong preseason, Armanti Edwards was one of the league's least productive punt returners. This likely will prompt them to look at other players to push both. NEED: 2.5
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