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Four Predictions for the Carolina Panthers in the NFL Draft

The NFL Draft is unpredictable in nature as teams look to add the best players to bolster their roster. The Carolina Panthers and GM Dave Gettleman have shown this to be true the past few seasons with their selections. However, a few trends have developed over that time frame that allows us to make four bold predictions we believe will come true.

Panthers Won't Reach to Address a Need

Dave Gettleman has made it clear as the Carolina Panthers' general manager that he will select the best player available on their draft board. In his first year as general manager, he went out and selected defensive tackles in the first two rounds with the selection of Star Lotulelei in the first and then Kawann Short in the second.

This past NFL Draft, the thought was that the Panthers needed to select an offensive tackle, which was considered a weakness at the time. The Panthers had added Michael Oher, who was coming off a disappointing year with the Tennessee Titans, and Mike Remmers was returning after half a season as the right tackle.

However, Gettleman did not select an offensive tackle until the fourth round when they picked Daryl Williams. He didn't get a chance to play after suffering an injury early in the season but is expected to compete for a starting job this offseason.

Panthers Will Make at Least One Trade in this Draft

While the Panthers may not reach for a player, they are certainly not afraid to move around within the NFL Draft and move up to get a player they like. The past two seasons, the Panthers have traded up three times. In 2014, the Panthers moved up in the fifth round to select Bene Benwikere and then last year moved up in the second to select Devin Funchess and then in the fourth selected Daryl Williams.

This year may be a little more difficult as the team only has six draft picks after trading their sixth round selection to the Chicago Bears for Jared Allen. However, the Panthers don't have as many holes to fill or really roster spots available for rookies so it wouldn't be a surprise to see them trade up early on Day 3 and use their remaining draft picks.

Panthers Won't Trade Out of the First Round

The one time fans won't see the Panthers make a move is to trade back out of the first round. The team has the 30th overall pick on Thursday night and are sure to get plenty of teams trying to trade back into the first round. 

However, the deal would have to be incredibly lucrative for the team to consider because not only are they moving back in the draft, they would also be losing the fifth-year option on the player they did select. This option adds an extra season onto a players' rookie contract however is only available for players selected in the first round. This something that is invaluable for teams that are trying to negotiate long-term deals with players.

The Panthers have not missed on their first round picks and have picked up these options on Cam NewtonLuke Kuechly and recently Star Lotulelei. It will be hard for the team to give this option up and is unlikely for them to trade back out of the first round.

Panthers Won't Draft a Cornerback in the First Round

There is no questioning that the cornerback position is weaker with Josh Norman no longer a member of the Panthers. He was the best player the team had at the position and was one of the top players a season ago. After Norman, the team has question marks with their other starter, Bene Benwikere, recovering from an injury suffered late at the end of last season.

This would appear to be a desperate need and it would make sense for the Panthers' front office would be hoping one of the top cornerbacks falls to them in the first round. However, if there was one on the board, I am not completely convinced that he would be at the top of the Panthers' board.

The cornerback position is not one that is highly valued by GM Dave Gettleman and was one of the reasons he was comfortable allowing Norman to walk this offseason. He is of the mindset that a strong defensive line makes the secondary look, and play, better. If this is the case, it is hard to imagine he would use a valuable commodity, like their first round pick, on a position like cornerback.

Twitter @BrandonCroce.

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