2013 NFL Offseason: Carolina Panthers
Draft Grades, Season Previews, Team Needs, Free Agents
Carolina Panthers (Last Year: 7-9)
2013 NFL Draft Grade: C+
Please note that the overall grade is not an average of all the individual grades. Other things are taken into account like team needs and goals.
Goals Entering the 2013 NFL Draft: Adding some help around Cam Newton would be nice, but the Panthers have to repair one of the worst defensive units in football. If they want to pass the Falcons and Saints, they'll need to at least slow down Matt Ryan and Drew Brees just a bit.
2013 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Panthers had just five picks in the 2013 NFL Draft, but they seemed to be off to a very good start during the first two days. They lucked into having Star Lotulelei and Sharrif Floyd fall right into their laps, thanks to the inept teams drafting in front of them. They opted for the former and then went back to the same position in the second round with Kawann Short. I had no issue with this, given how terrible the defensive tackle group was for Carolina last year.
The problem I have with the Panthers' draft class was their failure to address their woeful secondary. Sure, they'll have much more of a push up front, but Drew Brees and Matt Ryan will still be able to torch their putrid defensive backfield.
I understand that Carolina had limited options because of its five selections, but not spending one pick on the secondary was pretty inexcusable.
2013 NFL Draft Individual Grades:
14. Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah: A Grade
I think Sharrif Floyd would have been a better pick because A) he's a superior pass-rusher and B) he doesn't have any sort of health concerns. But this is still a great pick for the Panthers because they needed tons of help on the interior of their defensive line. Star Lotulelei would have gone in the top 10 if smarter teams were drafting there, so Carolina is reaping the benefits, much like other smarter teams will in the second half of the draft.
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44. Kawann Short, DT, Purdue: B+ Grade
Back-to-back defensive tackles for the Panthers? Well, it makes sense considering how terrible they were at the position. Short's range was around 28-45, so there is pretty solid value with this selection. The only concern I have here is that the Panthers don't pick again until Round 4, and they have yet to address their woeful secondary.
108. Edmund Kugbila, G, Valdosta State: C Grade
This is a reach, as Edmund Kugbila was widely viewed as a sixth- or a seventh-round prospect. The Panthers needed some competition at the guard position, so maybe Kugbila can eventually claim a starting job.
148. A.J. Klein, ILB, Iowa State: B Grade
I thought A.J. Klein would be a fourth-rounder, so this is a nice value selection. Klein won't project as a starter, but he'll provide depth for a Carolina team that wasn't very deep at linebacker.
182. Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon: B Grade
DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are both immensely overpaid, so one of them will have to go soon. Once that happens, Kenjon Barner will be a nice change-of-pace back. No surprise that he went around the sixth frame.
*** 2013 NFL TEAM NEEDS BELOW COMMENT BOARD ***
The Panthers finished 7-9, but they were way better than that. They nearly defeated the Falcons in Atlanta, fell just short of the Buccaneers in overtime and played the Seahawks, Cowboys, Bears and galvanized Chiefs (post-Jovan Belcher death) to within a touchdown. Given that, as well as Cam Newton's budding confidence that he gained during his 5-1 finish down the stretch, Carolina fans have lots to look forward to in 2013.
- Two Cornerbacks: Carolina needed to find an upgrade across from Chris Gamble. Gamble was cut, so two corners are needed. Re-signed Captain Munnerlyn; signed Drayton Florence and D.J. Moore
- Two Defensive Tackles: The Panthers really have nothing at defensive tackle, especially with Dwan Edwards about to hit free agency. They need two upgrades at the position, and they could start with Sheldon Richardson with the 14th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Signed Colin Cole; re-signed Dwan Edwards
- Free Safety: Hiro Nakamura could stop time. Haruki Nakamura can't stop anyone. He has to be upgraded. There will be plenty of options in Round 2 this April. Signed Michael Mitchell
- Right Tackle: Cam Newton needs better protection up front. Right tackle Byron Bell replaced Jeff Otah and was exposed as a liability. He needs to be upgraded. Also, a potential successor for left tackle Jordan Gross needs to be found soon. Gross will be 33 in July.
- Right Guard: Another upgrade for the offensive line. Geoff Hangartner is versatile to play all three positions inside, but he's not that good.
- Wide Receiver: The Panthers could use a better No. 2 than Brandon LaFell, but their primary need for a receiver is for an eventual replacement for Steve Smith as the top option. Signed Ted Ginn
- Punter: Brad Nortman had the second-worst net punting average in 2012.
- Kicker: Graham Gano went 9-of-11 to replace the waived Justin Medlock, but he shouldn't be trusted.
- Linebacker: Some depth should be added here because Jon Beason and Thomas Davis cannot be counted on to stay healthy. Signed Chase Blackburn; re-signed Jordan Senn
2013 NFL Free Agent Signings:
Ted Ginn, KR, 49ers. Age: 28.
Signed with Panthers
Ted Ginn didn't score a special-teams touchdown for the first time since 2008, but was still effective taking back punts.
Chase Blackburn, ILB, Giants. Age: 30.
Signed with Panthers (2 years)
Chase Blackburn was OK at times last year, but killed his team in some games. He needs to be upgraded.
- Domenik Hixon, WR, Giants. Age: 28. -- Signed with Panthers
- D.J. Moore, CB, Bears. Age: 26. -- Signed with Panthers
- Michael Mitchell, S, Raiders. Age: 26. -- Re-signed with Panthers
- Drayton Florence, CB, Lions. Age: 32. -- Signed with Panthers (1 year)
Carolina Panthers Free Agents:
Salary Cap: TBA.
Chris Gamble, CB, Panthers. Age: 30.
Chris Gamble played in only four games this past season because of a shoulder injury, but he's still a pretty solid cornerback. However, he's 30 so his best days are behind him.
Dwan Edwards, DT, Panthers. Age: 32.
Re-signed with Panthers
Dwan Edwards can do a decent job of getting to the quarterback on occasion, but he has to be limited to passing downs because he gets gashed against the run.
Ben Hartsock, TE, Panthers. Age: 33.
Re-signed with Panthers
Ben Hartsock offers nothing as a pass-catcher, but he's one of the better blocking tight ends in football.
Captain Munnerlyn, CB, Panthers. Age: 25.
Re-signed with Panthers
Captain Munnerlyn was benched early in the season, but eventually regained his starting job when Chris Gamble got hurt. He did an OK job.
- James Anderson, OLB, Panthers. Age: 29. -- Signed with Bears (1 year)
- Sherrod Martin, S, Panthers. Age: 28.
- Antwan Applewhite, DE/OLB, Panthers. Age: 27.
- Louis Murphy, WR, Panthers. Age: 26. -- Signed with Giants
- Gary Barnidge, TE, Panthers. Age: 27. -- Signed with Browns (3 years)
- Jason Phillips (RFA), OLB, Panthers. Age: 27. -- Signed with Eagles (2 years)
- Andre Neblett (RFA), DT, Panthers. Age: 25. -- Signed with Buccaneers
- Jordan Senn, OLB, Panthers. Age: 29. -- Re-signed with Panthers
- Derek Anderson, QB, Panthers. Age: 30. -- Re-signed with Panthers (1 year)
- Mike Pollak, G/C, Panthers. Age: 28. -- Signed with Bengals
- Ron Edwards, DT, Panthers. Age: 34.
- Nate Ness (RFA), CB, Panthers. Age: 26.
2013 NFL Free Agent Positions:
QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades
2013 NBA Mock Draft - May 22
2013 Fantasy Football Rankings - May 22
2014 NFL Mock Draft - May 21
Charlie's 2014 NFL Mock Draft - May 20
NFL Picks - Feb. 3
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