Evan Silva (@EvanSilva) is the Senior Football Editor for Rotoworld's NFL Page, and Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) leads Rotoworld's college football and NFL draft coverage. Together, they're breaking down every team's biggest needs and offering potential solutions in May's draft.
For a breakdown on every team, check out the team-by-team draft preview schedule.
No. 1 Team Need: Offensive Line
LT Jordan Gross retired. LG Travelle Wharton has considered doing the same. RG Nate Chandler was a liability down the stretch last season and RT Byron Bell always has been, leaving C Ryan Kalil as Carolina's only stable starter. Amini Silatolu's (ACL) return should help, but the Panthers will enter May's draft with at least three line jobs up in the air. While its weak receiver corps has generated more national worry, Carolina's offensive line is in even worse condition.
First day option: Morgan Moses, Virginia - Moses does not have good technique in terms of bending at the knees to absorb and redirect a pass rusher’s momentum. However, since he has enormous size and ridiculous length, Moses is able to compensate for it by swallowing his opponent’s initial line. As long as he continues to show enough lateral and linear athleticism and keep enough balance, Moses will prevent waist bending, which has been the demise of many edge blockers. He also has right tackle experience, which could help his cause early.
Second day possibility: Charles Leno Jr., Boise State - A possible surprise third-round name for Panthers’ fans, Leno Jr. displays enough lower half athleticism to bend and absorb. Some could immediately knock Leno Jr. because he is 6’4/303 lbs, but note his 34 3/8” arms and 10 1/8” hands and 4.40 short shuttle, which is among the best since 2006. The last result might seem like a small detail, but the 20-yard shuttle is among the best standalone tests to project future success among top OLs since 2006.
Third day flier: Kevin Pamphile, Purdue - My darkhorse third day offensive tackle, Pamphile has generated zero buzz among large media outlets, but he deserves praise. Pamphile’s biggest issue is overstepping to the outside, which allows quick rushers to take an inside line, but when face up and balanced he displays plenty of athleticism and power.
No. 2 Team Need: Wide Receiver
The Panthers have a lot of needs for a team that finished 12-4 and earned a first-round bye. If OC Mike Shula has any designs on expanding the offense in his second year as coordinator, he'll need an alpha receiver. Accuracy is Cam Newton's biggest deficiency, so a wideout with a large catch radius could go a long way toward Cam taking a statistical leap. Journeyman Tiquan Underwood, 32-year-old Jerricho Cotchery, and 31-year-old Jason Avant are keeping the top of the depth chart warm.
First day option: Marqise Lee, USC - Attempting to answer why Lee regressed in 2013 can be difficult. There are reports he insisted on playing through a slew of injuries. Obviously USC had a poor quarterback situation, but what about Lee’s drop rate of 12.31 percent. The Trojan receiver does his best work in the short to intermediate game, specifically on inside and outside breaking routes, where his body control and agility allow him to separate.
Second day possibility: Kevin Norwood, Alabama - Many focused on Amari Cooper among Bama’s receiving group, but Norwood is finally getting the attention he deserves. So much of the NFL passing game is focused on winning in contested situations, and Norwood is one of the more reliable receivers in this area, leaving his feet when getting vertical, even against double coverage.
Third day flier: Josh Huff, Oregon - Oregon really spread the ball around to multiple targets, but Huff might have been the most consistent of the bunch. He is not overly explosive in any of his movements, nor is he outstanding in tight situations. What Huff does best, in fact, is block. He does not shy from physical defenders. I expect the Panthers to rely on their ground game in 2014, so this trait would be consistently used.
No. 3 Team Need: Cornerback
Carolina masked its secondary flaws with a dominant front seven throughout 2013, but GM Dave Gettleman can't view that as a bankable long-term approach. He needs more talent in the back end, particularly after losing top cornerback Captain Munnerlyn and safety Mike Mitchell in free agency. The Panthers should be able to get away with Charles Godfrey and Roman Harper at safety, but Antoine Cason and 2013 UDFA Melvin White would be a concerning tandem on the perimeter.
First day option: Jason Verrett, TCU - The Panthers lost Captain Munnerlyn in free agency. Verrett is a better version and would fill a similar role. Not only can Verrett play on the outside, thanks to his backfield vision, anticipation, and aggression, but he is outstanding in the slot, even as a blitzer. Munnerlyn’s blitzing off the edge was a critical piece down the stretch for the Cats. Verrett might be under 5’10”, but he plays the ball at the catch point incredibly well.
Second day possibility: Phillip Gaines, Rice - Gaines is a stud athlete who flashed when allowed to press and run with receivers down the field. He missed the team’s biggest game against Texas A&M, which might have led to his lack of publicity, but Gaines is a great talent who could wind up being selected on the second day. He can mirror without placing a hand on his opponent.
Third day flier: Demetri Goodson, Baylor - Baylor’s defense actually had a good amount of talent in 2013, and Goodson is a name that seemingly was lost in the shuffle. There were some very good exposures where Goodson pressed at the line of scrimmage without lunging or getting off balance, which allowed him to stick with breaks in receivers’ routes.
Video: Norris on Carolina's top need
Panthers 2014 Draft Picks (7)
First Round (No. 28)
Second Round (No. 60)
Third Round (No. 92)
Fourth Round (No. 128)
Fifth Round (No. 168)
Sixth Round (No. 204)
Seventh Round (No. 225)
Panthers Current First-Team Offense
QB: Cam Newton
RB: DeAngelo Williams
FB: Mike Tolbert
WR: Jerricho Cotchery
WR: Tiquan Underwood
TE: Greg Olsen
LT: Byron Bell
LG: Amini Silatolu
C: Ryan Kalil
RG: Nate Chandler
RT: Garry Williams
Panthers Current First-Team Defense
RE: Greg Hardy
LE: Charles Johnson
NT: Star Lotulelei
DT: Dwan Edwards
MLB: Luke Kuechly
WLB: Chase Blackburn
SLB: Thomas Davis
RCB: Melvin White
LCB: Antoine Cason
FS: Charles Godfrey
SS: Roman Harper