The 2014 NFL Draft looms in the not so distant future, and there are many teams anxiously awaiting its arrival. One of those teams is the Carolina Panthers, who are ready to address some issues with new, young talent. Carolina has the 28th pick in this year’s draft, and are looking to either find a new lineman, or a big wide receiving target for Cam Newton.
Their line did a decent job of protecting Newton, but could use some talent, especially in their weak right side. On the other hand, the Panthers had the 29th worst passing offense in the league, and struggled offensively all year. As such, the question then becomes, who do the Panthers take in the first round? A big, athletic receiver or a strong offensive lineman? The answer to that question comes down to Jordan Gross.
Gross is a veteran lineman for Carolina who played extremely well during the 2013 season. However, in addition to that, he is also on the tail end of his career. Gross has publicly stated that he is thinking about retirement, a choice he has not yet made. If he does leave, the Panthers are going to have to address his loss during the first round of the draft, as not having Gross on the front line could be detrimental. However, if Gross decides to stay, while the offensive line could use some improvement, Carolina can rest a little easier and try to go for wide receiver instead (an option they would much rather do).
The future of Carolina is largely up in the air due to their limited cap room and expensive free agents, but Gross is one of the most important factors on their team. Losing such a valuable lineman is not simply losing a player, but is a change that will directly affect the way the draft goes for the Panthers’ organization.