Top 3 Carolina Panthers Needs – Updated

The whirlwind of free agency moves from last week went a long way to shaping the Carolina Panthers back into a Superbowl contender. However, the job is not complete. There are still a few needs left that need addressed if a Lombardi trophy is destined for Bank of America Stadium.

Young Talent at Defensive End

It seems many Panthers fans believe last week’s acquisition of Julius Peppers settles any questions surrounding the Carolina Panthers pass rush. Well, it doesn’t. The Peppers of today is not the same Peppers in the memories of the Panthers faithful. Julius instead will find himself as a situational pass rusher. What the Panthers desperately need is what Kony Ealy was never able to provide. A young prospect with a high motor that can keep the elder veterans fresh.  As of today, the closest thing the Panthers have is 25 year old Ryan Delaire. Unfortunately, Delaire hasn’t been able to string together two solid games in a row over the past two seasons.

I believe the Panthers will address the need for a young talented upstart in the NFL draft, possibly even at pick 8. You can read about that possibility here.

Matt Kalil Insurance

Matt Kalil could very well be a solid left tackle for the Carolina Panthers this season. Unfortunately, it is not a sure thing. The Panthers still need a backup left tackle that could fill in adequately if things go south. Last season the Panthers were forced to start guard Trai Turner at left tackle due to lack of depth. The Panthers never want to be in that position again. You can safely expect the Panthers to stay active in the offensive tackle market throughout free agency and possibly even early in the draft. There are a few prospects in rounds 2-3 that could be on the Panthers radar. More on that later.

Fresh Legs

Jonathan Stewart is a work horse running back. We all know that. While he remained relatively healthy last season, there is no guarantee he can do the same in 2017. If the Carolina Panthers are to sniff the offseason, they will need a strong and consistent rushing attack that does not rely heavily on Cam Newton. Behind Jonathan Stewart isn’t anyone of note. The Panthers have been trying to find an upgrade for Fozzy Whitaker for a few seasons now and I am not sure Cameron Artis-Payne makes it out of the Rivera dog house long enough to make the team this year.

There are quite a few options available here for the Panthers to shore up the running game. The draft has more running talent this year than any in recent history, and it just so happens that the Panthers have two second round picks. We could see the Panthers a mid tier running back like Samaje Perine out of Oklahoma. At 5’10 and 236 pounds, Samaje could definitely spell Stewart on the more physical runs in the playbook.

 

 

6 Comments

Pantherdude

March 15, 2017

Agreed… Perine may not be fast, but I believe he fits the Panthers power running identity well. As special as Fournette is, he too struggled against top defenses.(‘Bama contained him, averaged 2.5 ypc in 3 meetings, with his best game gaining 79 yards on 21 attempts in 2014.) If not for the off the field issues, Joe Mixon would also fit in nicely. Unfortunately I think he’s completely off our board. Kareem Hunt from Toledo could be another day 2 option.

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Mike alane

March 14, 2017

Contrary to above opinion, I believe you nailed first three picks–DE, OT, then RB. My thoughts for first three picks, with Gman thought process to justify:

1) Soloman Thomas–Can’t pass up a “Blue-Goose DE”–I truly believe he will be a more effective pro than Garrett–just like Watt is more effective than Clowney.

2) Taylor Moton: “Hog
Mollie–big men allow you to compete”–Most under-rated OT in the draft, would be starter at RT, an Elite guard if needed, as well as athletic enough to move over to LT if Kalil gete hurt.

3) Samaje Perine–“Big Running backs run propke over better than small running backs!” I really don’t care what his 40 time was at combine, his tape shows he plays much faster than 4.66.

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freeper

March 14, 2017

Please. Stop it with Samaje Perine. Why talk up an RB who ran nearly a 4.7 40 on an offense whose biggest deficiency is lack of speed, explosiveness and big plays? Second, who was the last RB from Oklahoma to do squat in the NFL? Even better, who was the last RB from the Big 12 to really help an NFL team, especially as a rookie? Those pass happy Big 12 teams only run draw plays and dives up the middle to keep teams honest, and they get huge yards because Big 12 defenses – which are coached and recruited to stop the pass in addition to being bad and talent poor to begin with – are willing to concede the rushing yards in order to stop the passing game. But note that when Oklahoma plays GOOD defenses out of conference i.e. games against Clemson, Houston, Ohio State recently – Perine got SHUT DOWN. All Perine would be able to do for the Panthers is run up the middle through huge holes that the OL makes for him. Well big deal … Cam Artis-Payne and Fozzy Whittaker can do that. So could Tolbert. If you want someone who can make yards on his own and give big plays in the running game, get somebody else.

It is amazing how so many people will advocate taking pedestrian talent at RB just to avoid drafting guys at the position in the 1st round. This claim that the RB class is so deep this year is a total myth. The vast majority of them are one dimensional products of spread offenses who barely weigh 200 lbs. and aren’t that fast, quick or strong (because spread offense teams put their best athletes at WR). If you want a well-rounded RB who played in a power offense who has superior athletic ability, get Fournette. If you want an RB with good ability who has an all-around game that can contribute immediately as a pass blocker and receiver in a pro style offense, get Cook. If you want an outside runner with excellent receiving ability to complement a pass-first offense like New England or New Orleans, get Christian McCaffrey. No other RB in this draft should be counted on to be more than a spot player.

As for the TE thing, a guy that not a lot of people are talking about are Jordan Leggett of Clemson. But here is the deal: the Panthers played 2 TE sets all the time the past 3 years. The problem wasn’t the 2nd TE but rather the OL. Because the play at OT has been so bad for so long, Ed Dickson has been used primarily in pass protection and sometimes even in run blocking instead of being allowed to be a WR. Granted, the Panthers can do better at reserve TE than Dickson. But remember: Gary Barnidge used to be the 2nd TE in Carolina also, and he had to go to Cleveland to put up big numbers. Barnidge even started 5 games in 2012 for Carolina and got a total of 6 catches. So until the OL and perhaps the scheme improves, no point getting a 2nd TE.

And no, the Panthers should not get a backup TE at #8. They have too many needs (CB, FS, DE, WR, OT, RB.) It could even be argued that the Panthers do not even have a #1 WR right now. They certainly do not have a #3 WR unless Johnson and/or Sheppard get a lot better. I get that the 2nd TE could replace the slot WR, but there is a better argument for drafting Mike Williams of Clemson at #8 than O.J. Howard

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The Scratching Post: Carolina Panthers News 3/14/17 – CBS Sports Asheville

March 14, 2017

[…] Here’s an updated list of the Panthers’ top three needs (Jeremy Igo, Carolina Huddle) […]

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welcometothejungle

March 13, 2017

Listen guy, stop trolling. You dont draft a backup at pick 8 in round 1 2 or 3, if its that necessary you can draft depth at 4,5,6, or 7….You remind me of a young gettleman talking about peppers like he doubted smitty can play. Really? You must not know? Lol just wait to judge, i promise he will be better than any pass rush we had last year IF you can call it that! I agree with kwame except the love being under .500 part.

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Kwame Opata

March 13, 2017

Smh. Right Tackle, Strong Safety and Running Back STARTERS are waaaaaaaaaaaay more important than a backup to Khalil and a young backup at DE. Y’all must have loved being under .500

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