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Post-Free Agency Questions For The Panthers Heading Into The Draft

The Panthers were able to fill some wholes via free agency, but still have some major issues to deal with heading into the draft. Here are the biggest questions facing the team heading into April's Draft.

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Do they trade up in the first round?

We know the Cleveland Browns, who own the first overall pick in the draft, are out of this scenario. Browns head coach Hue Jackson confirmed this week that they will not trade the pick.

But there have been rumors according to USA Today that the Panthers maybe looking to trade up to the number two pick to grab a stud player they covet. This may be Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas, who is expected to be long gone by the time the Panthers pick at eight. And the Panthers have shown particular interest in him after head coach Ron Rivera attended Stanford's pro day last week. They would love to have an elite edge threat like Thomas on their defense.

Will they take an offensive stud with their first pick?

If they stay put at eight, the Panthers may take LSU running back Leonard Fournette, a popular pick for them in mock drafts. He is a premier talent at the position, universally seen by scouts as a once in a generation talent due to his combination of size (6'1", 240 lbs), speed (4.51 sec 40 yard dash) and power. He would pair tremendously with current starter Jonathan Stewart, who said would welcome another running back with "open arms." He would also help alleviate some of the pressure off of quarter back Cam Newton.

If he is taken before then, which is a possibility due to his talent, there other options on offense for the Panthers. Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey could be an option, though some believe picking the undersized runner (5'11", 202 lbs) at eight would be a stretch. But he would bring versatility to the offense due to his ability to both run and catch (from the backfield and the slot), and the coach Rivera showed interest in him at Stanford's pro day.

They could also look to add a premier pass catching threat to the offense in Clemson standout Mike Williams or Western Michigan's Corey Davis, two players that could assume the role of the number one receiver for them immediately. They could also look to add Alabama tight end O.J. Howard to pair with Greg Olsen and created a deadly combo at tight end and provide Newton much needed help.

Instead of a trade early, could the Panthers trade back into the late first round to get some offensive line help?

Speaking of helping Cam Newton, the Panthers invested heavily into the offensive line in free agency, signing tackle Matt Kalil to a five year, $55 million deal to be there starting left tackle. But questions remain for the right side, as penciled-in starter Michael Oher is still in the concussion protocol after missing the final 13 games of the season.

So, could the Panthers look to trade back in to the late first round to address the offensive tackle position? They have interest in another Cam, as the team met with Alabama tackle Cam Robinson last Monday. He is seen as one of the top tackles in a weak offensive line class with the potential to be a premier talent as a left tackle, which could cause him to go within the top 15-picks. But off the field and character issues may have caused his stock to drop, and he could potentially fall into the twenties.

But if the Panthers think they can fix/control him, then they should trade up to snag him. He will help tremendously and will immediately improve the quality of the Panthers line. He is extremely athletic for his size and is a natural run blocker. He will need to improve his pass blocking skills and technique to be elite at the next level, but he can learn that overtime. If the Panthers are serious about protecting Newton, they will consider trading back into the first round to grab Robinson.

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