Carolina Panthers will reload on defense in 2019 NFL Draft

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 17: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers throws a pass against the New Orleans Saints in the second quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 17, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 17: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers throws a pass against the New Orleans Saints in the second quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 17, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

The Carolina Panthers have some holes to fill on defense, and there are a lot of talented players to pick from in the 2019 NFL Draft.

The Carolina Panthers open the 2019 season with a sense of urgency. With the NFC South being a very competitive division with tons of talent, the Panthers need to keep up. Now in year two under offensive coordinator Norv Turner, the Carolina offense should function better than it did last year.

Carolina has a nice mix of youth and veterans on the roster, something that should bode well for a potential postseason run. They have all the tools needed to be successful, they just need to execute. Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper has made it clear that he wants to win. Now, the organization will have to follow through.

State Of The Team

The Panthers are trending upward. They have plenty of weapons on the offensive side of the football starting with running back Christian McCaffrey. After a season in which he proved he could be a dual-threat running back, McCaffrey looks to build upon that in 2019.

Another player of note is tight end, Ian Thomas. When Greg Olsen went down with an injury at the end of last season, Thomas stepped up and provided tremendous production. He is undoubtedly the tight end of the future for the Panthers. The duo of D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel should be able to carry the wide receiving unit come the fall.

Defensively, the linebacker position is anchored by Luke Kuechly, who looks to again lead the charge in 2019. The secondary is led by promising second-year cornet Donte Jackson. After a tremendous rookie season in which he recorded four interceptions, Jackson looks to be the focal point of the secondary. It should be a season of balance on both sides of the football.

Total Draft Picks

The Panthers have seven draft picks in 2019, including a third-round compensatory pick they were awarded due to losses of tight end Ed Dickson, defensive tackle Star Lotulelei and guard Andrew Norwell in free agency last spring.

  • Round 1 (No. 16 overall)
  • Round 2 (No. 47 overall)
  • Round 3 (No. 77 overall)
  • Round 3 (No. 100 overall, compensatory)
  • Round 4 (No. 115 overall)
  • Round 5 (No. 154 overall)
  • Round 6 (No. 187 overall)

Top 3 Draft Needs

Defensive End: The retirement of Julius Peppers leaves a hole at the defensive end position, and the Panthers need someone to be able to replace the production left by his departure. It may be impossible to find a draft pick as good as Peppers, but an edge pass rusher is needed. In today’s passing-friendly NFL, not having a player who can set the edge and get to the quarterback is a severe disadvantage. The Panthers need to restock the depth at the position

Linebacker: Again, this is a position that needs to be revamped. With the departure of Thomas Davis, the Carolina Panthers are losing someone who was talented, dependable and played hard on every down. Although they do have several solid players at the position — such as Luke Kuechly and Shaq Thompson — they do not have a ton of depth beyond that. With Kuechly’s concussion history, they would be wise to pick up a player who can make an impact right away in the draft.

Wide Receiver: This may seem like a bit of a strange need given the fact that the Panthers have two star young receivers in Samuel and Moore. However, they need depth at the position and there are plenty of solid wide receivers to take in the later rounds. This is not a priority pick, but the Panthers could certainly use another receiver to stretch the field. Gone are the days (mostly) of big-bodied receivers. The Panthers would be wise to select someone that can stretch the field and be able to be a big-time playmaker.

Top 3 Draft Targets

Decision Maker (Or Who To Blame If Things Go Wrong)

Marty Hurney is the one making the decisions for the Carolina Panthers. In his first stint with the Panthers, He put together draft classes that were not very strong. The 2018 draft class proved to be a redemption of sorts, as he was able to draft talented Donte Jackson, D.J Moore, and Ian Thomas among others. He will probably have a huge say in what the Panthers do as they look to rebuild their roster in several spots.

Best/Worst Pick In Current Draft Slot

Historically, who was the best pick and the worst pick based on where the team is currently picking. 

Best Pick:  Thomas Davis- DB/LB – Round 1 (Pick No. 14) in 2005 NFL Draft

With the 14th overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers selected linebacker Thomas Davis out of Georgia. Davis would have a tremendous career with the organization, and that was evident from the get-go. As a rookie, he recorded 38 tackles in what was a sign of things to come. After missing the entire season due to injury in 2010, he would come back even stronger and put together a solid eight seasons for the Panthers. He recorded at least 100 tackles in a five-year span from 2012-2016.
Worst Pick: Jimmy Clausen – Quarterback – Round 1 (Pick No. 16) in 2010 NFL Draft

The Panthers have held the 16th overall pick one other time. That was used to select former Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen In 2010. Clausen did not fare too well in the National Football League.passing for seven touchdowns and 14 interceptions in two years with the Panthers. He would bounce around to a couple of other teams, but he was never able to latch onto a full-time job in the NFL. In hindsight, it may have been a good thing that he didn’t pan out for the Panthers as they probably would not have drafted Cam Newton in 2011

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