So now what?
After taking back-to-back defensive tackles with their first two choices, the Panthers have picks left in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds of the 2013 NFL draft Saturday. Then they will work the phones and get their share of undrafted free agents, hoping 1-2 of those make the final roster as well.
While I’m generally a fan of the Panthers bulking up on the defensive line with Utah’s Star Lotulelei and Purdue’s Kawann Short, they now absolutely must address the offensive line. Taking an offensive lineman somewhere in every draft is a good idea given the demands of the position and how many of them you need. And the Panthers have to prepare for the eventual loss of Jordan Gross, their left tackle who will be 33 before next season begins.
General manager Dave Gettleman has done some work on the secondary already via free agency and the Panthers like some of the young talent they have there. But certainly defensive back is a strong option for Saturday, given the loss of Chris Gamble and the inconsistent play at safety last season.
Other possibilities for Saturday's three draft picks: a wide receiver, a tight end and a second offensive lineman. Coach Ron Rivera said the offensive coaches are getting “antsy,” given that the first two days of the draft have been devoted solely to defense – that should get rectified to an extent on Saturday.
One additional note, since I like to keep this blog fan-friendly: You really should consider coming out to the Panthers’ free draft party for fans on Saturday. It is free and open to the public from noon to 5 p.m., and I saw a lot of cool stuff already being set up on Friday at the stadium as they prepare for the fan onslaught. Autographs from players like Luke Kuechly and some of the new draft picks will be available, and fans will have access to behind-the-scenes tours of areas in the stadium not typically open to the public (including the Panther locker room). It's a good place to bring the kids, and the price is right.