Going into the 2011 season, the Carolina Panthers were excited as ever to see what Cam Newton had to offer. And boy did he deliver. He won the Offensive Rookie of the Year with: 4,051 yards passing, 706 rushing yards, 21 touchdowns in the air, 14 touchdowns on the ground, and 17 interceptions thrown. Those numbers are mind blowing and broke all rookie records. But the reason why the Panthers are drafting 9th overall is because of injuries on defense. They were banged up all year long, and could not stay healthy.
In the 2012 off-season, the Panthers need to address:
1) Addressing Health – They need to somehow keep their star players like Jon Beason and Thomas David healthy. The Panthers have had a rough last couple years on defense because of this. Perhaps they can draft players with no injury history.
2) Draft Needs -The three top needs I see the Panthers having in this off-season is wide receiver, cornerback and defensive tackle. Although they drafted two defensive tackles in round three of the 2011 draft, there was no real production from both Sione Fua and Terrel McClain. Furthermore, both were placed on IR along with veteran defensive tackle Ron Edwards. I believe they could use a legitimate number one defensive tackle coming from this next draft. At wide receiver, the Panthers have an aging Steve Smith, with a little help from David Gettis and Brandon LaFell. I believe they need to start building more depth at the receiver position. And finally, cornerback.They need someone on the opposite side of Chris Gamble who can come in and be an immediate starter.
3) Who to draft? – I believe they can take a look at a few names at the 9th spot to help them address their needs. Early on in the year, I saw Dre Kirkpatrick (CB/Alabama) easily sitting at the 9th spot and going to the Panthers. But with his off the field issues his draft stock has slightly fallen. The Panthers could be looking at drafting: DT Michael Brockers, DT Dontari Poe, and still possibly CB Dre Kirkpatrick. As of right now, I believe they will go with DT Michael Brockers out of LSU. He’s big and physical, but with the combine that Dontari Poe had, don’t be surprised if he get’s taken by the Panthers. If for whatever reason the Panthers trade back in the first round, they could address the wide receiver position and take a look at Kendall Wright – Baylor, and Michael Floyd – Notre Dame.
Top Free Agent – 1) Dan Connor / LB 2) Jeremy Shockey / TE
Written By – David Rantisi- NFL Draft and Scouting Combine Writer
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