The NFL Combine begins this week, followed by the NFL Draft in late April. A lot of teams are making big moves this off-season, signing free agents, renewing contracts, placing franchise tags on superstars and maneuvering coaches around. This year’s draft class has lots of talent. Since the teams who did not excel in the previous season draft first, they are pressured to evaluate talent faster. The Carolina Panthers need to have a good draft class, which can help restore the team back to its playoff form.
The Panthers finished the season with a record of 7-9 and came in 2nd in the NFC South last year behind the soaring Atlanta Falcons. The Panthers, led by franchise quarterback Cam Newton, played a decent season last year and won some big games. But this off-season they will need to make some changes in order to reach playoff form next season.
Luke Keuchly of the Panthers won defensive rookie of the year last season. But the defense, however, needs some help. They lack the size on the D-line to put pressure on the quarterback, and the speed to cover the deep ball. The offense has managed to hold their own with some big names scoring points. Quarterback Newton, is a dual threat QB who is exceptional at throwing the ball and eluding the defense with his running ability. Running back DeAngelo Williams is a physical back who can carry the weight of the team and veteran Steve Smith in company have excellent hands at the receiver position. It’s obvious that defense is a key need for the Panthers this off-season.
Over the next few days Panthers scouts will be watching the NFL combine thoroughly to seek and evaluate the players. Finding the pieces that would best fit the Panthers needs is going to be rough. But to be great you have to make risky and smart decisions, and that what is expected of the franchise.
The Panthers have already taken their first step by hiring the new General Manager Dave Gettleman, who is a mastermind at evaluating and developing talent. GM Gettleman hopes to make big moves in the draft. We can only hope that the key additions from the draft bring us an exciting year of Carolina football.