With only a couple days left until Christmas, what should the Panthers ask Santa for?
This hasn’t been a good year for the Carolina Panthers. There’s no way to sugar coat that fact. The team sits at 5-10 with one week remaining and a tough game against the New Orleans Saints to close the season out.
So as the team finalizes its Christmas list to Santa Claus, what are the most important things to ask for?
A Top-10 Draft Pick
With one week left in the regular season, the Panthers currently sit at No. 8 in the draft order but could easily drop out if they win on Sunday and other teams lose. Using FanSpeak’s mock draft simulator, the options at No. 8 featured several elite players, including quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert.
Having a top 10 pick could be the perfect way to jumpstart a retooling in Carolina, whether it’s used to fix the quarterback situation, bolster the offensive line or add pieces to the defense. Whichever direction Carolina chooses, they will be adding an elite talent to the fold.
Clarity at the quarterback position
Is there a team in the league with more question marks and less of a path forward than the Panthers at the quarterback position? The Bears have a conundrum with Mitchell Trubisky but at least there is the slight hope he can improve with more seasoning and a potential offensive system change. The Bengals, Dolphins, and Redskins will be picking in the top 5 and have the opportunity to add a top-flight draft pick.
The Panthers have turnover-prone Kyle Allen, injured Cam Newton and a question mark in Will Grier. They have so many other issues throughout the team that using a top round pick on a quarterback might be more detrimental than helpful. Nevertheless, the Panthers need clarity at the most important position.
Players like Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, and DeShaun Watson show the value in getting a mobile young quarterback into the fold. The Panthers should ask Santa for a playmaker at the position.
An improved run defense
The Panthers have the 31st ranked rushing defense, only ranking ahead of the 1-14 Cincinnati Bengals, allowing 145.4 yards per game on the ground. Improving this beleaguered unit would be a massive step forward towards contention.
For one, the switch to the 3-4 defensive scheme has been a disaster this season, minimizing star linebacker Luke Kuechly and Dontari Poe‘s impact on defense. The loss of Kawann Short has been a massive blow and Gerald McCoy is not a difference-maker against the run.
All of this has added up to a disastrous season that has allowed Aaron Jones, Marlon Mack, Chris Carson, Darius Guice and practically any other running back to gash them for big chunks.
Last offseason, the goal was improving the pass-rush and the additions of Brian Burns and McCoy has allowed the Panthers to show massive improvement and lead the league in sacks. A similar investment this offseason in fixing the run game could bear similar fruit next season.