There is no doubt about it. The offensive production in 2016 digressed from 2015. Nobody is arguing that. There might be some arguments as to why though.
Injuries to the offensive line pushed players out of their comfort zones, with RT Mike Remmers moving to LT due to Michael Oher missing almost the entire season. Backup RT Daryl Williams barely had time to get adjusted before going down with injury, with C Ryan Kalil and backup C Gino Gradkowski following suit. The offensive line had no continuity throughout the season and it showed.
The issue that fans and analysts saw, that the front office ignored in the off-season prior to this past season, reared its head. Offensive line is a need, but it has been addressed to a degree in the signing of LT Matt Kalil. Carolina feels very confident in his abilities and will test him on the left side in 2017.
The hope is that Michael Oher clears concussion protocol and is healthy to play in 2017 at RT. But what if he isn’t? The Panthers need a backup plan. Reports are that the Panthers have met extensively with OT Taylor Moton out of Western Michigan, and he is a possibility for the Panthers in the 2nd Round. To definitely compete, and possibly start.
Next comes the running game. Jonathan Stewart is now 30 as of March 21st (Happy Birthday J-Stew), and by comparison, had a down season. He rushed for 834 yards on an average of 3.7 yards per carry. Good enough for 31st for RB’s this past season with at least 100 carries.
There is no argument that the Panthers need a new talent at RB, one that can help Stewart in the backfield, and create a dynamic duo of sorts. While the 1st Round offers talents such as Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, and Christian McCaffrey, the 2nd and 3rd rounds offer other possible options in Alvin Kamara, D’Onta Foreman, Kareem Hunt, and plenty more. All could give the Panthers an elite option.
The Panthers may be looking to add to their WR/TE core as well. Greg Olsen has produced amazing numbers over the past 3 seasons, but Carolina could help to add someone to their depth, to learn from the star Vet. The Panthers have early ties to O.J. Howard and Jake Butt, but they could add a tight end at any point in the draft.
Carolina added two pieces to the receivers room in Charles Johnson and Russell Shepard. No they didn’t move Charles Johnson from DE, this Charles comes from Minnesota and is imagined to be the speedster replacement to Ted Ginn Jr. Shepard is a special teams guru, and smart receiver who may thrive in the slot.
They could stand to add another option however, and this draft has some great options for the Panthers in the 2nd Round and on. Zay Jones from ECU is an intriguing option, Chris Godwin impressed at the combine, and plenty more could land in Charlotte. Don’t forget though, the Panthers did schedule a private visit for John Ross…could they like him enough to take him at #8?