The Carolina Panthers were supposed to be playoff contenders in 2012 with Cam Newton coming off a sensational rookie season. But the Panthers season mirrored their 2011 effort, starting slow out of the blocks and putting together a late season run that was too little, too late.
Their struggles cost former general manager Marty Hurney his job, and now Dave Gettleman will attempt to address the team needs in his first draft with the team. Carolina has acquired pieces to build around on both sides of the ball in the last two drafts, but needs to fill out the roster if they hope to make the leap to a playoff contending team. They only have five picks in the draft and must make them count.
Top three needs
Defensive tackle - The Panthers were one of the worst teams in the NFL against the run last season. They need to add a disruptive force to the center of their defensive line that makes things easier for everyone else. They re-signed Dwan Edwards, but he is not the dominating difference-maker they need.
Offensive tackle - Left tackle Jordan Gross could become a free agent next year and they have little else of value at the tackle position. Byron Bell can fill in at right tackle, but won't wow anyone.
Cornerback - Carolina has plenty of serviceable corners, but no No. 1 shutdown guys.
Ideal pick: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri