NFL Carolina Panthers

2013 NFL Mock Draft: Carolina Panthers Mock One

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NFL Draft 2013 - CarolinaPanthers

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The Carolina Panthers have had it rough so far this off-season. Cap problems have made it nearly impossible to retain key players, let alone make any relevant moves in free agency. The financial hardship limits what the Panthers can do to increase the talent on their team. They can try to put together trade bait and see what they can get back, but there does not seem like much upside there. It might gain a piece or two, but it would be at the price of talent the Panthers cannot afford to lose. This leaves the NFL Draft as their best shot to add fresh blood.

This year the Panthers have five picks, one in the first, second, fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds. It is possible these picks could change in the next few weeks, but chances are, this is what the Panthers will be looking at in April.

They have needs in several areas and will need to choose which need they attend to with the 14th pick in the first round. They need to upgrade the offensive line to better protect Cam Newton. Or maybe they decide to get another weapon for Newton to throw to.

They have needs on the other side of the ball so they could make a player on defense their priority. The right defensive lineman could make the entire defense legitimate, or they could try to strengthen the defensive secondary, which was in the bottom half of the league last season.

No matter what the Panthers do in the first round, they will need to get their picks right. They only have five picks and they are all coach Ron Rivera and new general manager Dave Gettleman have to work with.

The following is the first in what will be a weekly look at the possible draft scenarios for the Panthers. If you have any thoughts on Carolina’s upcoming draft, feel free to use the comments section below, or reach out to us on twitter using the hashtag #RML, for Rant My Life.

Jeff Everette is a Miami Dolphins writer for Follow him on twitter @jeverettesports, “Like” his page on FaceBook, or add him to your network on Google+.

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Round 1, Pick 14: Star Lotulelei, DT

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The Panthers released Ron Edwards in February and Star Lotulelei would be a terrific upgrade in the middle of the defensive line. With Dwan Edwards as his partner in crime, Lotulelei would be able to be the run-stopping anchor the team has needed, plus his agility allows him to put pressure on the quarterback. With talent at the defensive end and linebacker positions, Lotulelei would push the defense into the top 10.

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Round 2, Pick 44: Terron Armstead, OT

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Protecting Cam Newton is paramount to the success of the Panthers' offense and grabbing a tackle as athletic as Terron Armstead in the second round would be a serious boon for Carolina. Armstead is strong, smart and physically gifted. His ability to get to the second level is an asset to the rushing attack, and with a bit of development, Armstead has what it takes to become a top-tier left tackle.

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Round 4, Pick 105: Leon McFadden, CB

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The Panthers are awfully weak in the secondary and that could be a major focus in the draft. There is no doubt they would like to use their first or second pick on a defensive back, but Leon McFadden will make them feel good at 105. He is undersized at 5-10 and could struggle with some of the bigger receivers, but his ball skills and speed make him a hidden gem this year.

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Round 5, Pick 141:Tharold Simon, CB

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A bit of a risky pick, Tharod Simon has the ability to become a strong presence in the Panthers' secondary. Simon has issues with his technique and understanding situational football. He tends to get grabby in coverage and commits too many mental mistakes. The thing is, all of his deficiencies are correctable. With the proper coaching and complete dedication from Simon, the 6-2 corner could become a respected defender.

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Round 6, Pick 172: Corey Fuller, WR

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Corey Fuller is an interesting find in the sixth round. He stands 6-2, but looks taller. He has long arms, good speed and huge hands. He had 43 catches for 815 yards with six touchdowns last season, so the NFL potential is clearly there. He may need some work on his technique and concentration, but he is a hard worker and, in time, he would become a reliable target for Cam Newton.