With NFL Free Agency winding down, it is time for us to take a closer look at the 2013 NFL Draft and potential picks for the Carolina Panthers. The team has several needs heading into the draft due to their cap problems that prevented them from filling up the needs on their roster in free agency. In fact, those cap issues have made areas of the team such as the defensive backfield even more pressing needs for the Panthers. I could see this team going for a defensive tackle, guard, wide receiver, cornerback, or even a safety early on in the draft. At this point in time, DT and guard are the two biggest needs for this team.
Star Lotulelei is one of the most divisive draft picks in this class, and the fact that he has a heart issue has led more people to believe that he is a very risky pick. For that reason, the blue-chip prospect has slipped outside of the top ten in many 2013 NFL Mock Drafts, such as the most recent one published by the folks on the FanSided.com main page.
Usually, Missouri Tigers DT Sheldon Richardson is the pick made by the Carolina Panthers with the 14th pick, and the Panthers didn’t buck the trend of getting a defensive tackle in the first. However, this time they took Star Lotulelei, and there is no doubt that the Utah Utes DT would have a profound impact on the team. He is terrific value with the 14th pick.
If the Panthers want to take a minor risk, they could have filled up a need elsewhere and waited to take a certain, excellent run-stopping DT in the second round. The Panthers need run defense on the inside the most, and Ohio State Buckeyes standout Jonathan Hankins could provide that if he slips to the Panthers hands in the second round. That is a risk, though, and I would certainly take Lotuelelei if he fell into my lap in the middle of the first round. In my eyes, that is a risk worth taking- he can be a true playmaker at the pro level.
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