Fans of the Carolina Panthers can actually be somewhat proud of their losing season this past year. Despite their 6-10 record, Carolina had a pretty exciting season considering; and it was all thanks to their new quarterback Cam Newton. A rookie quarterback who arguably had the best rookie season of any quarterback who has ever entered the league. With a guy like this who is looking like he has what it takes to be a leader for years to come, the team might have a better future depending on the help they get around him. Not to mention Newton’s main weapon, Steve Smith, and two producing running backs in De’Angelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart who pose a threat to defenses; but when they are off the field, that is when problems arise. First things first:
Strengthening Up The Defense
Carolina had one of the least productive defenses in the league this past year. They gave up handfuls of points and ultimately were the reason for the majority of their losses. Their run defense ranks 31st in the league, and 23rd to opposing quarterbacks. Pretty harsh statistics. Hence why I would be strictly in the market for defensive players in this upcoming draft, at least for the first four picks. I would have my sights set on some star defensive linemen.
Carolina dropped from the No.1 spot last year to the No.8 this year. Still managing to remain in the Top Ten. In some Mock Drafts around the league, they have Carolina getting Devon Still, a defensive tackle from Penn State, who ranks No.1 at his position. Still was named the defensive player of the year in the Big Ten. He seems to be pretty promising if they can get their hands on him.
Another hopeful is 6’6, 306 lb. Michael Brockers, another defensive tackle out of LSU. He is the second ranked defensive tackle of the crop. I would be all for either of these guys if they are still available come the eighth pick, but there is one guy in particular who I feel would make an even better fit.
Defensive end Quinton Coples out of UNC, would have no problem adjusting to the ways of North Carolina style football. Well, I would assume not. Coples made away with 59 tackles in 2011, 10 sacks, and 15 tackles for losses. If need be he could be tucked in at defensive tackle, too. He seems like an all around good fit for this team, given he doesn’t get chose in the first seven picks, which is likely. I would be quick to pick this guy up. If unavailable, I would have to go with Brockers.
I would continue to pick defensively. Depending on who gets who, I would like to get a solid linebacker and cornerback. Then proceed to get more help for Newton on his line. It seems like Newton was scrambling a bit too much, although it seemed to benefit them as he rushed for 706 rushing yards this season. This is pretty much unheard of for any quarterback let alone a rookie. Anyways, I would finish with my last pick or two on a wide receiver or two, since Steve Smith is slowly getting up there in age.
As for the free-agency, I would be scrambling to pick up defensive end Robert Mathis from Indy, if he doesn’t get re-signed. He would make a world of difference. If I could get him on top of a solid first-round DE, that would be golden. I also wouldn’t mind getting a guy like Anthony Spencer from Dallas, who would hopefully improve the linebacker position a touch. He seems like he can be an outstanding player given the right team and set up. I would look into the market for a solid offensive tackle, too.
I would also make Newton get a new number. I don’t think players should have the number one, it seems to conceited. It’s just something that irritates me, as good as he is.