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Five Biggest Needs for Carolina Panthers Entering the NFL Draft

The Carolina Panthers have one of the more complete teams in the NFL, however there is still some weak spots in the roster. We take a look at the top five positions of need for the Carolina Panthers entering the NFL Draft.

5. Wide Receiver

The need for another wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers isn't necessarily because of a lack of talent but more so for insurance. There are plenty of question marks surrounding the position heading into the 2016 season.

The team has two wide receivers coming off season-ending injuries with Kelvin Benjamin and Stephen Hill both suffering a torn ACL during training camp last year. The Panthers also waived Jerricho Cotchery after the Super Bowl who finished third in reception in this offense.

Even with all these question marks, this position isn't necessarily a pressing need. The Panthers finished the season with the highest scoring offense in the NFL without Benjamin and Hill. The hope is that Devin Funchess will be able to build off a strong finish to his rookie season. They also have Kevin Norwood, who they traded for before the 2015 season but didn't record one reception.

While another pass catcher would be good for Cam Newton and if one falls to the Panthers, they would probably select him, this is not a pressing need.

4. Running Back

This is another position that the Panthers could use some insurance at. Jonathan Stewart was the featured running back in this offense, with almost 50 percent of the team's total carries. However, he suffered an injury towards the end of the that forced him to miss three games.

When Stewart was out of the lineup, this offense was not as effective and Newton was the player who tried to replace the production lost.

The Panthers do have some options at running back though with Cameron Artis-PayneFozzy Whittaker and undrafted free agent Brandon Wegher. While all three are good complimentary players, none have the look of being a featured running back, either if Stewart is out with injury or to be the potential replacement for Stewart. That is why the team may look to add a running back in this upcoming NFL Draft.

3. Defensive End

The starters are set for the 2016 season with Charles Johnson returning and Kony Ealy having a career game in Super Bowl 50 with three sacks. They also have solid depth behind them with players like Mario AddisonWes Horton and Ryan Delaire however a defense can never have too many pass rushers.

While the team is bringing back almost all their defensive ends, Jared Allen is the only one who won't be back after retiring this offseason, they didn't have the greatest production. As a group the Panthers' defensive ends registered only 17.5 sacks while defensive end Kawann Short had 11 sacks by himself.

This is why it would make sense for the team to add another defensive end, especially considering Johnson only signed a one-year deal. The Panthers could look to add the long-term answer this year which would give him time to develop with the coaching staff and be able to step into the starting lineup in 2017.

2. Safety

The Panthers only have one of their starting safeties returning this season after the team released Roman Harper earlier this offseason. However, they could have the answer already on the roster in the form of Tre Boston to pair with Kurt Coleman.

The coaching staff may not want to do this because Coleman excelled as a free safety but with Boston in the lineup he would most likely have to switch to strong safety. The veteran safety has experience playing the position but doesn't necessarily play to his strengths.

If the team is comfortable with Boston and Coleman as their starting safeties, they would still be in the market for a safety because they lack depth behind them. The only other safeties on the roster are Trenton Robinson and Dean Marlowe and another safety would help strengthen the position.

1. Cornerback

The only position with a glaring need has to be cornerback as there is a great deal of uncertainty. This past week the team rescinded the franchise tag on Josh Norman, who was expected to be the team's number one cornerback.

After Norman is Bene Benwikere, who was the team's primary nickelback but had his season cut short due to a fractured leg. The team is expected to move him to the outside but there is concerns with any player coming back from injury even though the reports have been positive about his rehab.

To replace Benwikere on the inside, the Panthers did sign Brandon Boykin, who is one of the top nickelbacks in the league. However, with offenses playing more spread offenses, it is important to have three solid cornerbacks. The Panthers do still have Robert McClain under contract, who started for the team during the playoffs last year.

The Panthers certainly need to add a cornerback in the coming weeks however this is a position that Dave Gettleman doesn't value very highly. He is of the mindset that a strong defensive line will make the secondary better so this is a position the team will most likely address in the later rounds.

Twitter @BrandonCroce.

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