Does the signing of Colin Cole mean we won't draft a defensive tackle? If not a tackle, then what? – George in Charlotte
The fact that the Panthers signed Cole, a former Seattle Seahawks run stopper who last played in 2010, doesn't mean that the idea of selecting a defensive tackle in the April draft is off the table. Given Cole's experience (84 games) and his size (328 pounds), he's an intriguing player worth taking a look at, but signings this time of year rarely lock up a position for a team. The majority of signings prior to the start of the new league year on March 12 involve players that weren't on rosters at the end of last season. This time last year, the Panthers added defensive end Jyles Tucker – who didn't play the previous season – and Canadian Football League kicker Justin Medlock.
That's not to say, of course, that the Panthers will definitely pick a defensive tackle in the first round. At the No. 14 spot, look for them to take the best available player. That's what they've done to perfection the previous two years, choosing quarterback
Cam Newton at No. 1 overall in 2011 and linebacker Luke Kuechly at No. 9 in 2012. Both went on to be named the NFL's rookie of the year on their side of the ball.
In the case of Newton, the Panthers did enter the draft seeking a franchise quarterback, but in the case of Kuechly, few felt going into the draft that linebacker was the Panthers' greatest area of need. What they need is as many elite-level football players as possible, and that's what they'll set their sights on again this year. Panthers.com will be there next week for an important part of the process, the annual NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
I sure as hell hope not.
There's more to the article, but I pasted the bit about the draft/FA.