While many outside observers had defensive tackle at, or near, the top of the Panthers’ list of needs heading into the draft, the club’s scouting department didn’t share the view that it was a spot they absolutely had to address.
Carolina made its feelings clear in the draft, passing on DT Fletcher Cox in the first round and spending all seven of its picks on positions other than D-tackle. There were whispers before the draft that the team was seriously considering spending its top pick on a defensive end, but Carolina didn’t address that spot until the fourth round.
The Panthers are counting on 11-year veteran DT Ron Edwards, a 2011 free-agent addition who missed all of last season, to return strong from injury. The Panthers are also encouraged by what they saw from ’11 third-round picks Sione Fua and Terrell McClain, and they like their depth with Frank Kearse, Andre Neblett, Ogemdi Nwagbuo and Jason Shirley as potential backups.