The Panthers have a lot of roster reconstruction to perform this offseason, but the bulk of Marty Hurney’s work must happen through the draft.
It’s safe to say the Panthers are going to look much different in 2019. Stalwarts like Ryan Kalil, Thomas Davis and Julius Peppers are gone. GM Marty Hurney must do yeoman’s work in the draft to make sure Ron Rivera has enough talent to coach to a Super Bowl title.
Fortunately, the team’s swoon down the stretch did improve the draft capital available to the team’s front office in April. The Panthers don’t have a seventh round selection, but they do open up with the No. 16 pick after missing the playoffs.
The team’s needs heading into the offseason are obvious to everyone. They have to acquire a center to replace Kalil. It’s impossible to believe they won’t make an attempt at finding an upgrade over Matt Kalil at left tackle. Finding a defensive end to play opposite Mario Addison is an absolute necessity.
The question for Hurney is how he’ll prioritize the needs. It’s also up in the air which spots he’ll try to fill via free agency. No matter how you slice it it’ll be an offseason of real change in Carolina. Here’s how we think their draft might shake out.
Round 1: Jonah Williams
Williams doesn’t have all of the measurables front office’s crave in franchise left tackles. Mainly, his arms aren’t quite long enough to keep elite pass rushers at bay. He still would represent a massive upgrade over Ryan Kalil.
The real question for the Panthers is whether or not the Alabama tackle will last until the sixteenth selection rolls around. If he is still on the board when the Panthers are put on the clock, he’d be an easy choice for Hurney. At worst, he projects to be a solid starter for the next decade.
Drafting Williams to play left tackle and slotting Taylor Moton in on the right side would give Carolina a really good pair of book-ends to protect Cam Newton. Don’t be surprised if the Panthers go for an edge rusher in round one, but if Williams is on the board, he’d look great in a Carolina uniform.