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NFL Carolina Panthers

2013 NFL Draft: Carolina Panthers Could Target Sheldon Richardson In First Round

Sheldon Richardson-Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

There are several areas the Carolina Panthers could invest their first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, but the one area that stands out and screams is the defensive line.

In 2012, the Panthers D-Line was held down by Ron Edwards, a 12-year veteran who went out in Week 11 with an injury to his elbow. Now heading into his 13th season, there are plenty of questions surrounding Edwards’ future with the team.

Carolina had grabbed Dwan Edwards when he was released by the Buffalo Bills as teams finalized their rosters last season, and he proved to be a reliable force at defensive tackle. But he is now an unrestricted free agent, and there is no promise that he will be with the Panthers at the start of training camp.

there is plenty of time between now and then, and there will certainly be options that open up during free agency, but if Carolina does not satisfy their roster needs during that time, they will turn to the draft.

Heading into the NFL Combine, Star Lotulelei could have been the Panthers target with the 14th pick overall, but the big fella from Utah was unable to perform due to an issue with his heart. This is something that will likely scare Carolina away and send them in the direction of Sheldon Richardson.

Richardson is 6-foot-3, and at 294 pounds, he is just over ten pounds lighter than Lotulelei. Either player would fit nicely into the system the Panthers are trying to put together under the guidance of new general manager Dave Gettelman.

Lotulelei may have been a bit heavier, but there is no doubt about Richardson’s strength. He pushed 225 for 30 reps at the combine, and set career bests in tackles, sacks and forced fumbles during his last season at Missouri. He is a disruptive force the Panthers need to have to crate havoc for opposing quarterbacks like Matt Ryan and Drew Brees, two of the best in the league the Panthers have the privilege of playing twice a year.

Carolina may go a totally different direction here, but they could do a whole lot worse than Richardson at 14.

 

Jeff Everette is a Featured Columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on twitter @jeverettesports, “Like” his page on FaceBook, or add him to your network on Google+.