Three and out: Carolina Panthers' 2018 NFL draft needs, prospect fits
In the build-up to the 2018 draft, USA TODAY Sports will take a look at each NFL team's situation and needs.
1. The need at receiver is still glaring. Since the Panthers traded Kelvin Benjamin to the Bills in October, Cam Newton has lacked a true No. 1 wideout. Devin Funchess simply isn’t enough.
Advice: At No. 24, Carolina is likely too far back in the first round to land Alabama’s Calvin Ridley, widely seen as the top available receiver. But if he slips to them, the Panthers shouldn't hesitate. Christian Kirk out of Texas A&M is an option, but he’s more of a slot target. Other potential early fits include SMU’s Courtland Sutton, Maryland’s DJ Moore, and Oklahoma State’s James Washington.
2. Cornerback Bashaud Breeland failed his physical after agreeing to terms with Carolina, leaving a hole in the starting lineup opposite James Bradberry after Daryl Worley was traded to the Eagles earlier in March.
Advice: If Carolina skips on selecting a receiver in the first round, it will have plenty of corners to choose from. Central Florida’s Mike Hughes might be long gone, but he would be intriguing should he slip. Other options include Louisville’s Jaire Alexander, Iowa’s Josh Jackson, LSU’s Donte Jackson and Auburn’s Carlton Davis. If Carolina decides to wait on the position, J.C. Jackson out of Maryland and Nick Nelson from Wisconsin could be targeted.
3. Left guard Andrew Norwell went from undrafted to a first-team all-pro in 2017. His run blocking will be missed after he bolted to the Jaguars, and the Panthers might need a replacement as they rework their rushing attack.
Advice: Carolina can wait until the second day to address this need given the depth at the position. Georgia’s Isaiah Wynn and Texas-El Paso's Will Hernandez might be available in the second round, though the Panthers likely would need to move up from No. 55 overall to land either. Auburn’s Braden Smith might be on the board in the third, where Carolina has two selections.
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