It has been a dozen years since the Carolina Panthers used a top-50 draft pick on a defensive tackle.
They need to do it again in the 2013 NFL draft – preferably with their No.14 pick Thursday night, but if not there then definitely with their No.44 pick on Friday night.
This is the time of year that fans always want the sleek sports cars in the NFL draft – the fast offensive playmakers of the world. But the Panthers need at least one steamroller instead – and preferably two.
They need another young Kris Jenkins, the defensive tackle they drafted in the second round of the 2001 draft. That was the last time they spent a top-50 pick on the position.
By 2003, Jenkins was the best defensive tackle in the NFL. His play was a significant reason why the Panthers went to the Super Bowl that year. He was such an unstoppable force inside that he once blocked what would have been a game-winning extra point at Tampa Bay – with his elbow.
On the offensive line, the Panthers also need help. Jordan Gross and Ryan Kalil aren’t getting any younger. The O-line as presently constituted has one more year together at best.
So the 2013 draft for the Panthers must be the draft for “hog mollies,” to use general manager Dave Gettleman’s colorful description. It is not the draft to take a flyer on an Armanti Edwards type.
“Big men allow you to compete,” Gettleman likes to say.
That's what the Panther need -- a few big men. I don't pretend to know which ones they will end up with, but this draft is not a time to get fancy. It's time to flatten somebody. NOTE: I will be expanding on this blog post for a full-fledged column that will appear in the printed edition of Thursday's Charlotte Observer. The NFL draft runs Thursday through Saturday this year.