Panthers

Offseason Needs: Carolina Panthers

1. Defensive Tackle
The Carolina Panthers selected Sione Fua and Terrell McClain in the third round of the 2011 draft to solidify their interior line. McClain is now gone and Fua is coming off another disappointing year. The Panthers top priority this offseason needs to be to solve their issues up front on defense.

2. Wide Receiver
Steve Smith is still playing at a high level and Brandon LaFell was a solid contributor this year. But Cam Newton needs another weapon to help continue his development as a passer. In the second or third round the Panthers should consider bringing another receiver aboard.

3. Offensive line
Jordan Gross and Ryan Kalil are still locked in to starting roles. And left guard Amini Silatolu will be given at least one more year to develop. But the right side of the line is a liability. Veteran guard Geoff Hangartner and right tackle Byron Bell could both be replaced this offseason.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Panthers, Team Needs 1 Comment

Josh Norman has big day in Panthers camp

Carolina Panthers 5th-round pick Josh Norman has been fairly quiet early this preseason, but he made sure everyone took notice of his performance on Tuesday afternoon. According to the Panthers official twitter feed, Norman picked off four passes, including three in a half-hour span.

While practice stats are even less relevant than preseason numbers, at worst Norman caught the attention of the media and fans. He’s in the midst of a tough battle for the nickel corner job and Tuesday’s performance potentially could give him a slight edge over his closest competitors, R.J. Stanford, Darius Butler and Brandon Hogan.

But this day will quickly be forgotten if he doesn’t follow it up with a solid showing in actual game action when the Panthers take on the Dolphins on Friday night.

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Impact Rookies: Luke Kuechly

The Carolina Panthers played it safe, taking Luke Kuechly instead of reaching to add another weapon for Cam Newton on the offensive side of the ball. Kuechly may not be the flashiest rookie, but he’ll start from day one and immediately improve a struggling Panthers defense.

While Kueckly primarily played inside at Boston College, the Panthers are shifting him to the weak-side position where he’ll start next to Jon Beason, who maintains his position on the inside. In 2011, the Panthers suffered through a revolving door on the weak side, featuring James Anderson (who will compete for the job on the strong side) and Jordan Senn, among others.

Given his experience and the fact that he has a guaranteed job from day one, Kuechly should be considered an early contender for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

Check out our full review of the Panthers 2012 draft class

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Draft Grades: Carolina Panthers

The Carolina Panthers needed to upgrade the talent around Cam Newton, and while they didn’t immediately address their offensive needs, they ended up with a solid group which should help Newton develop in his sophomore season.

The selection of Luke Kuechly came as a surprised, but it was a welcomed one. Kuechly was the best player on the board and will immediately step into a starting role. He is expected to move into the middle linebacker position, with Jon Beason shifting to weak-side linebacker.

I was surprised by the selection of Amini Silatolu, and thought it was a reach, but I do understand their desire to address the interior offensive line. The main issue I have with the selection, however, is the fact that Cordy Glenn was still on the board.

Frank Alexander was a reach in the 4th round. He fits the mold of the type of well-rounded end the Panthers were looking for, but he has an uphill to earn playing time in Carolina. He’ll battle Thomas Keiser and Eric Norwood for playing time.

I love the selection of Joe Adams. At this stage of his career he’s nothing more than a vertical threat, but he’ll have the opportunity to work with Steve Smith in Carolina, one of the game’s elite undersized receivers.

Josh Norman could prove to be a steal in the 5th round, but does come with some character concerns. Having Norman and Brandon Hogan in the same secondary is scary thought. Clearly the Panthers are becoming one of the teams that isn’t concerned with character.

Selecting Brad Nortman in the 6th round was almost as bad as the Jaguars selection of Bryan Anger in the 3rd round. While Anger was a reach, at least he was the elite punter in this year’s class. Nortman was barely on the radar screen. There’s just no reason to waste a pick on a guy like Nortman. A handful of punters of his caliber can be found in the free agency process after each draft.

D.J. Campbell was a solid 7th-round pick. He’s best suited to play free safety, but will enhance his chances of making the final roster if he can demonstrate some versatility in training camp.

Overall, this wasn’t the most exciting draft class, but I like the Panthers approach – especially in the 1st round. Kuechly may not change the direction of this franchise on his own, when rebuilding teams can’t afford to pass up sure things in the draft.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2012, Panthers Leave a comment