Analyzing the Panthers' First Round Pick
The Carolina Panthers' consecutive division title victories is extremely misleading. Their losing record of 7-8-1 in 2014 made them only the second team in league history to win a division title with less than a 50% win percentage. Midway through the season the Panthers suffered a 6 game losing streak that included a blowout 45-21 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles that well exemplified the team's struggles but overall an underperforming NFC South allowed the Panthers to capitalize on a situational advantage.
They are going to need a winning record in 2015 if they want to repeat as divional champions. Let's take a look at some options the Panther's have with their 25th overall pick who could help secure a well-deserved return to the playoffs.
DJ Humphries, T, Florida
The elite defense we saw in 2013 was significantly weaker putting an immense amount of pressure on Cam Newton. The young mobile quarterback performed admirably given his preseason injury that he undoubtedly suffered through all year long but absolutely needs a stronger offensive line to stay healthy. Ryan Kalil should anchor a unit that allowed Newton to be sacked 38 times in 2014. Humphries is a tough blocker that brings aggresion and hustle to the line. Smart angles and foot quickness could make him an immediate starter and effective protector for Newton. Should La'el Collins fall here at 25, the Panthers should not let him pass while AJ Cann, arguably the best guard in the draft, could also make sense despite being a bit of a reach.
Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
Second year corner Bene Benwikere performed well in his rookie year but fits better into the nickel position without elite speed. Corner depth is low in Carolina with veteran Charles Tillman joining in 2015 and Josh Norman projected in a starting role as well. Taking Collins would address a weak secondary within a division that needs to deal with Matt Ryan and Drew Brees. A rare combination of strength and speed make him an excellent press coverage receiver with the quickness to play man to man.
Breshad Perriman, WR, UCF
Newton's favorite target in 2014 was Kelvin Benjamin who accumulated over 1000 yards in his rookie season. Outside of the big framed Benjamin and reliable tight end Greg Olsen, Newton seldom had other consistent targets making the receiver position a priority. Perriman gained immense recognition after his blazing pro-day 40-time of 4.25. Perriman may very well be the best receiver available at this point and could provide a different look to defenses from the 6'5" Benjamin who often receives criticism for speed. Nelson Agholor from USC is another playmaker the Panthers could target as a late first round reach who could play sloth or outside receiver.