Tuesday, February 26, 2013
First-round DT for Carolina?
By Tim Kavanagh
It's hard to find much fault with what the Carolina Panthers have done with their first-round picks in 2011 and 2012. 2011 yielded QB Cam Newton, who earned AP offensive rookie of the year honors and appears destined to serve as the franchise QB for the time being. In 2012, they landed LB Luke Kuechly, who landed the defensive rookie of the year honors, making good on his promise as a tackling machine -- his 164 total tackles were 61 more than the second-most on the team in 2012. In an effort to help Kuechly and his linebacking crew out, the team may be using their first-round pick this offseason on a defensive tackle.
"I think it's a need. Is it one of our top needs? We'll see as we go through the free agency process and the process of scouting these college football players," Panthers HC Ron Rivera said at the scouting combine, per the Charlotte Observer. "But I do know having stout, physical defensive linemen is important. Just ask the linebackers. They'll tell you how important it is so they can run and make plays."
It's possible that they'll sign someone in free agency. The Eagles released Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson on Monday, and they join a list of FA DTs that also includes Randy Starks, Henry Melton and Jason Jones (pending the usage of the franchise tag by their incumbent teams).
But if they don't find someone they like amongst the veterans available, the No. 14 overall pick may well be invested on a DT. Utah's Star Lotulelei -- considered the top player in the draft -- will likely be long-gone by that point, but Florida's Sharrif Floyd, Missouri's Sheldon Richardson and UNC's Sylvester Williams may still be available for them.