PantherInsider Draft Blog 4-18

With the drat only days away, we've got the latest on the Carolina Panthers. Updated 2:00pm 4/18.

2:00pm 4/18

The SportsXchange

It appears the Carolina Panthers will enter the NFL Draft with 10 picks and no more.

The Panthers were waiting to hear whether or not the New England Patriots were going to sign linebacker Adam Seward to an offer sheet.

Apparently the Patriots have decided against that. Seward would have brought an extra fifth-round pick had the Panthers decided not to match.

That leaves Carolina with a pick in all seven rounds plus an extra third-rounder from the Kris Jenkins trade and two extra seventh-round selections which were compensatory picks.

The Panthers are expected to fill needs at offensive tackle, running back, defensive end, defensive tackle and safety in the draft.

There has been some talk the Panthers might have an interest in quarterback Matt Ryan, but that's highly, highly unlikely for a number of reasons.

First of all, coach John Fox and general manager Marty Hurney have said in the past they don't like the idea of drafting quarterbacks early because it takes them too long to develop and it's not worth the monetary commitment. Often they aren't ready until their fourth or fifth year.

Second, Fox and Hurney aren't exactly on solid footing in Carolina after consecutive non-winning seasons. In other words, they need to win now.

Third, the Panthers fully expect Jake Delhomme to come back from an elbow injury this year and start.

And fourth, they have other much more pressing needs.

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While many fans fret over who the Carolina Panthers will take in round one of the NFL Draft, the big focus really should be on what the team does with its second-round pick (43rd overall) and two early third-round picks (67th and 74th overall).

The Panthers are likely to find a good player if they stick at No. 13 and that player is likely to be an offensive tackle, running back or defensive end.

Odds are the Panthers will get a right tackle in the first round, especially with the team moving Jordan Gross to left tackle.

If they do, here's what they may have to choose from: Boise State's Ryan Clady, Pitt's Jeff Otah, Vanderbilt's Chris Williams and Boston College's Gosder Cherilus are all intriguing options.

If they go running back, look for them to take Rashard Mendenhall from Illinois or Jonathan Stewart from Oregon at No. 13 and then go after an offensive tackle in the second round. Or, the team could package a second-round pick and one of its thirds to move back into the bottom of the first round to get the tackle it wants, perhaps even Otah.

The only defensive player the Panthers would likely take a chance on at No. 13 spot is defensive end Derrick Harvey from Florida. With Mike Rucker a free agent, the Panthers have a huge void to fill at right end, but Harvey is the only guy who would be worthy of that pick unless Chris Long or Vernon Gholston were to mysteriously plummet.

But as we said, the first round isn't really the concern for the Panthers.

Their scouting staff has done an admirable job of not missing on first-round picks in the John Fox/Marty Hurney era. In fact, over the past six years they've added the likes of linebacker Jon Beason, running back DeAngelo Williams, linebacker Thomas Davis, cornerback Chris Gamble, offensive tackle Jordan Gross and defensive end Julius Peppers.

All will start this year.

And, history suggests, they will land a good player if they remain at No. 13 this year. Among the more recent players selected 13th overall include Tony Gonzalez (1997), Takeo Spikes (1998), John Abraham (2000), Marcus Stroud (2001), Donte Stallworth (2002), Ty Warren (2003), Lee Evans (2004) and Jammal Brown (2005).

The Panthers haven't been all that consistent in landing contributors in the second and third rounds.

Yes, they nabbed corner Richard Marshall (2006), but in between there were some wasted draft picks in running back Eric Shelton (2005), receiver Keary Colbert (2004) and guard Bruce Nelson (2003). And the jury is still very much out on last year's two second-round picks --- receiver Dwayne Jarrett and center Ryan Kalil.

Round three has also seen its share of ups and downs. The Panthers hit on linebacker Will Witherspoon (2002), corner Ricky Manning Jr. (2003) and offensive lineman Travelle Wharton (2004), but swung and missed on defensive tackle Atiyyah Ellison (2005), offensive tackle Rashad Butler (2006) and tight end Mike Seidman (2003). And we're still waiting for the development of offensive tackle Evan Mathis (2005), linebacker James Anderson (2006) and defensive end Charles Johnson (2007).

Look for the Panthers to come out of their first four picks addressing four of these five needs -- offensive tackle, running back, defensive end, defensive tackle and safety.

And this year the team needs to hit some home runs with those picks.

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