The Panthers have a new General Manager in David Gettleman. He's evaluated the Carolina roster, made some minor free agency moves and now looks forward to his first draft with the Panthers.
Carolina did add some depth at wide receiver with the additions of Domenik Hixon and Ted Ginn. Hixon will find his way into the rotation and maybe Ginn can resurrect his career with the Panthers. At the very least he can give them a spark on special teams.
On defense they added some pieces in linebacker Chase Blackburn, safety Michael Mitchell and cornerback Drayton Florence. Carolina lost some role players and starters like wide receiver Louis Murphy and linebackers Jason Phillips and James Anderson.
1) Defensive Tackle
This is a big priority for the defense. Think how much better Luke Kuechly would be if the Panthers had better play up front. There's a very good chance that defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson will be available with their first selection. If they go in another direction in the first round a player like Kawaan Short is a possibility in the second. Bennie Logan, Everett Dawkins, Jordan Hill, and Josh Boyd are tackles to keep an eye on in round four or so.
Corner may be as big as a need as defensive tackle in Carolina. Again, they have a shot to land one of the better players here in the first round, depending on what happens in front of them with Tampa Bay. Worst case scenario they could end up with Xavier Rhodes or Desmond Trufant with that first pick. Of course they can wait until pick 44 overall to get one as well. It's a deep year at corner and there seems to be a handful of players that are all graded out pretty closely that would fall in this spot. No doubt that Carolina could really get an upgrade drafting one cornerback at either one of these spots.
Carolina could address the safety position with their top selection, drafting Kenny Vacarro, but that's unlikely. It's a good year at the safety position so they will likely wait until later in the draft.
4) Wide Receiver
It's a passing league now and Carolina has one of the top young quarterbacks in the NFL in Cam Newton. Steve Smith can still get it done but the Panthers could really use another heavy dose of speed and big play ability on the other side. Cordarrelle Patterson has to be intriguing to the Carolina brass. Same could be said for slot guy Tavon Austin. Will they be available at No. 14 and how does Gettleman feel about those receivers?
5) Offensive Line
The Panthers could use a boost at guard and tackle, if nothing more than to provide more depth to their front.