Panthers have many needs entering NFL draft, but no first-round pick after trading for Bryce Young

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Panthers had the worst record in the league last season, so they have a long laundry list of draft needs.

The problem is they don’t have a first-round pick.

The Panthers traded away that selection — which turned out to be the No. 1 overall pick — to the Chicago Bears a year ago when they got desperate for some stability at the quarterback position and moved up from the ninth spot to get Alabama quarterback Bryce Young at No. 1 overall.

Young struggled in his rookie season and the Panthers stumbled to a 2-15 record and now Carolina doesn’t have anything to show for its struggles after what looks like a lopsided trade in favor of the Bears, who got three other draft picks and wide receiver D.J. Moore.

Panthers owner David Tepper, who is not particularly known for his patience, ousted general manager Scott Fitterer and first-year head coach Frank Reich, so Carolina enters the draft with a new brain trust in place.

Former Panthers linebacker Dan Morgan is the GM and Dave Canales is head coach.

The Panthers have two picks early in the second round (No. 33 and 39), so there is always the chance they package those and move back into the first round. But Morgan has repeatedly downplayed the notion of wanting to trade up, and appears to be content to wait until the second round to make a move.

Carolina also has a third and fourth-round pick, two fifths and a seventh.

Which direction the team goes with those two second-round picks will largely depend on what's still left on the draft board.


Edge rusher, wide receiver, cornerback and tight end.

The Panthers traded their best defensive player in outside linebacker Brian Burns to the New York Giants after being unable to agree to a long-term contract. They also lost playmaking OLB Frankie Luvu and primary backup Yetur-Gross Matos in free agency. Carolina added replacements in D.J. Wonnum, Jadeveon Clowney and K'Lavon Chaisson but this team could use a young pass rusher at some point in the draft.

Upgrading the wide receiver position is also a need.

Carolina added speedy Diontae Johnson in free agency to pair with veteran Adam Thielen, and last year's second-round pick Jonathan Mingo has shown promise. But Carolina could use more speed and depth at the position and it wouldn't come as a shock if they use one of their two second-round picks as more help for Young.

Cornerback is another big area of need with Donte Jackson and C.J. Henderson moving on, leaving injury-prone Jaycee Horn as the only proven player at that position outside of Troy Hill. The team added Dane Jackson in free agency, but it's unclear if they view him as a starter. He got a two-year, $14.5 million deal.


The Panthers invested more than $150 million in guards Robert Hunt and Damien Lewis in free agency, hoping to give Young some better protection after he was sacked 62 times last season. Austin Corbett will move inside to center. The Panthers seem content with Ickey Ekwonu and Taylor Moton at offensive tackle, although Ekwonu had a rough second season. Carolina could select a center to develop at some point in the draft, but it's highly unlikely that would be in round one.


It won't come as a surprise if the Panthers add more help around Young in the form of a wide receiver or tight end. Texas WR Xavier Worthy would be an intriguing pick as would TE Ben Sinnott out of Kansas State. If they go cornerback, keep an eye on Georgia's Kamari Lassiter.



Steve Reed, The Associated Press