Panthers expected to focus attention on defense in NFL draft
7. CAROLINA (5-11)
LAST SEASON: Panthers lost Cam Newton to injury two games in and still managed to be 5-3 at midway point before losing eight straight games under young QBs Kyle Allen and Will Grier, costing coach Ron Rivera his job.
FREE AGENCY: Lost DE Mario Addison, CB James Bradberry, DT Dontari Poe, DT Gerald McCoy, DT Vernon Butler, LB Bruce Irvin and OG Greg Van Roten. Didn’t re-sign WR Jarius Wright. Traded Allen, OG Trai Turner. Released Newton, TE Greg Olsen, S Eric Reid and S Colin Jones. Acquired OT Russell Okung in trade. Signed QB Teddy Bridgewater, QB P.J. Walker, WR Robby Anderson, WR Pharoh Cooper, WR Seth Roberts, WR Keith Kirkwood, TE Seth DeValve, OG John Miller, DE Stephen Weatherly, LB Tahir Whitehead, DL Zach Kerr and S Justin Burris.
THEY NEED: CB, DL, LB, TE.
THEY DON’T NEED: RB, WR, OT, K/P.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Clemson LB Isaiah Simmons, Auburn DL Derrick Brown, Ohio State CB Jeff Okudah.
OUTLOOK: Panthers are in rebuilding mode under first-year coach Matt Rhule. General manager Marty Hurney admitted this draft is about upgrading on defense after team focused energy on offense in free agency. Trading down from No. 7 spot is very real option for Carolina. Panthers have one pick in every round and two in fifth.
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