May 11, 2014

2014 NFL Draft Review: Carolina Panthers

#1 Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

Carolina Panthers
Division: NFC South | Last Season Record: 12-4

What Needed to be addressed in the Draft: Who is Cam Newton going to throw to? Who's going to keep him upright. If it wasn't obvious heading into the draft, Carolina desperately needed to address the offensive line early and often (left tackle), and adding multiple receivers certainly should be in their draft plans.

The secondary is a problem. The safety position is in decent shape, with the additions of Thomas DeCoud and Roman Harper, and they still have Robert Lester and Charles Godfrey. The Panthers need to take advantage of a deep cornerback class, but would be wise to spend an early round pick on a guy who can be their number one corner.

Individual Draft Picks:

Round 1

28. (28) Kelvin Benjamin**, WR
Experience: Sophomore (RS) | School: Florida State
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 242 lbs.

Round 2

28. (60) Kony Ealy*, DE
Experience: Junior (RS) | School: Missouri
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 265 lbs.

Round 3

28. (92) Trai Turner**, OG
Experience: Sophomore (RS) | School: Louisiana State
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 306 lbs.

Round 4

28. (128) Tre Boston, FS
Experience: Senior | School: North Carolina
Height: 6-0 | Weight: 202 lbs.

Round 5

8. (148) Bene Benwikere, CB
Experience: Senior | School: San Jose State
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 189 lbs.

Round 6

28. (204) Tyler Gaffney, RB
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Stanford
Height: 6-0 | Weight: 217 lbs.

Two Picks of Note:

Best Value Pick:

Trai Turner**, OG (Round 3, Pick 28)
Experience: Sophomore (RS) | School: Louisiana State
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 306 lbs.

Analysis: Trai Turner is a top 20 talent, and the best guard in this class IMO opinion, so this was an excellent value pick late in the third round. Turner should be a plug in play starter on an offensive line that desperately needs improving.

Most Questionable Pick:

Kelvin Benjamin**, WR (Round 1, Pick 28)
Experience: Sophomore (RS) | School: Florida State
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 242 lbs.

Analysis: This was an easy choice. Kelvin Benjamin is very overrated. He's big, and catch go up and get the football, but he is very unpolished, and has high bust potential. Carolina passed on more talented receivers and even tackles.

Undrafted Free Agent Signings:

Most Notable

Denicos Allen, OLB
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Michigan State
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 225 lbs.

Analysis: He's undersized, but Denicos Allen can contribute immediately on special teams, and should become a solid rotational linebacker who can get a couple of sacks here and there as a blitzer. Good pickup.

Other Free Agent Signings

Carrington Byndom, CB, Texas
Corey Brown, WR, Ohio State
Marcus Lucas, WR, Missouri
Jared Wheeler, OL, Miami
Shaq Rowell, DT, South Carolina
Andrew Norwell, OG, Ohio State
Darrin Reaves, RB, UAB

Draft Review:

Analysis: Their first round pick wasn't all bad. They got a big target for Cam Newton who has a lot of upside, but he's still raw and may not be that immediate impact player that Panthers fans are hoping for.

The turned around and got excellent value in the second and third rounds. Kony Ealy doesn't fill an immediate need, but he's a top 15 talent who could be the long-term replacement for Greg Hardy at defensive end, and can be a pass rushing, 3-technique defensive tackle. And Trai Turner was a third round steal.

With Carolina's final three picks, they got good secondary depth with Bene Benwikere (5th round), and a potential starter in Tre Boston (4th round). Tyler Gaffney was a solid pick in the 6th round, but I felt like they needed more of an explosive back.

The Verdict: They reached for Benjamin in round one, but had a solid draft in terms of value from that point forward. The reason why I didn't love this draft however, is that they chose not to address the left tackle position, and still don't have much at the receiver position. Also, I don't feel like they came away with a starting corner, which was another pressing need.

Overall Grade: C