2012 NFL Free Agency: 5 Super Studs Carolina Panthers Should Target

Zayne Grantham@ZPGSportsContributor IIIMarch 2, 2012

2012 NFL Free Agency: 5 Super Studs Carolina Panthers Should Target

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    The 2012 NFL free-agency period will start next week, and the Carolina Panthers are going to have a lot of work to do. The Panthers need to bring in some top talent to compete in the 2012 season.

    There are plenty of top-name players hitting the market this offseason, and the Panthers need to go after some of them.

    Carolina will have a top-10 pick in the 2012 NFL draft, but they have more holes that need to be filled with a veteran presence.

    If the Panthers are able to pick some solid free-agent talent, then they could challenge for the NFC South division title, and possibly more.

    Let's take a look at five players the Panthers need to target in the 2012 free-agency period.

Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans Saints

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    It is obvious that the Carolina Panthers could use some wide receiver help opposite of Steve Smith.

    They currently have players like Brandon LaFell and David Gettis, who have shown some promise at the No. 2 receiver spot, but Marques Colston would be able to come in and immediately provide some help.

    Cam Newton played very well in 2011, but he needs some more targets in 2012, especially now that teams now what he is capable of.

    Colston is only 28 years old, and at 6'4" and 225 pounds, he would be a huge target for Newton and the Panthers.

    Smith may only have a few more years left, and some may also say that he would not want to share catches with Colston. However, I believe that Smith is a player who is happy as long as the team is winning.

    Colston can provide sure hands over the middle of the field, and he can become a possession receiver with the Panthers just like he has been for the Saints over the past six years.

Brodrick Bunkley, DT, Denver Broncos

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    The Carolina Panthers need a good amount of help on their defensive line, but especially in the interior.

    The Panthers could very well select a defensive tackle in the draft, but even if they do, a free-agent veteran would help the team tremendously.

    In the 2011 NFL draft, the Panthers spent two third-round picks on defensive tackles, and that did not work out nearly as well as they hoped it would have.

    In 2012, the Panthers should go after current Denver Broncos tackle, Brodrick Bunkley.

    Bunkley helped a very good Broncos defense in 2011 and is going to become a free agent this offseason.

    The Panthers need some bulk in their line, and Bunkley can provide that at 6'2" and 306 pounds. This is a player who can immediately help the Panthers get better against the run and pressure opposing quarterbacks.

Terrell Thomas, CB, New York Giants

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    Terrell Thomas is a great No. 2 cornerback, and the Carolina Panthers should definitely pursue this player in the offseason.

    Thomas is coming off of a season-ending injury in 2011, and may not be re-signed by the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants.

    The Giants have corners Corey Webster, Prince Amukamara and Aaron Ross. Ross will also be a free agent this offseason, and the Giants may decide to let Thomas walk in the offseason.

    In 2011, Thomas proved that he was an above-average corner, and the Panthers could use just that to go with current starter Chris Gamble.

    Thomas is at his best whenever he can play press coverage, and he excels at helping in run support. This is a big, physical corner who could help any NFL team that takes a chance on him.

Anthony Hargrove, DE/DT, Seattle Seahawks

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    Anthony Hargrove is a very versatile, tenacious defender who has been primarily a backup throughout his entire career. The Carolina Panthers need some quality depth on their roster.

    The Panthers have been hit with significant injuries for the past couple of years, and have found little depth on their team.

    Hargrove is a free agent who would come in at a cheap price and can play both defensive end and tackle.

    The best part of Hargrove's game is that he has a high motor and never gives up on the play. Hargrove is very athletic and can rush the passer from the inside or outside, and would benefit the Panthers greatly.

    Hargrove is not a player who would come in and take over a starting job, but he could take on a role and provide fresh legs for the Panthers.

Cliff Avril, DE, Detroit Lions

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    This is probably the least likely move out of all of the Carolina Panthers' options. However, if the Detroit Lions somehow let Cliff Avril escape Motown, then the Panthers have to take a shot at Avril.

    Avril was the best pure pass-rusher on the Lions' great defensive line in 2011, and he would be a monstrous matchup with Charles Johnson on the Panthers line.

    Carolina has some solid backups on their defensive line, but they may not have two true starters at the position. Avril would provide a solid pass rush and run defense for three downs, and the Panthers would be able to have solid depth behind him.

    The Panthers may choose to not pursue Avril simply because they put a lot of money into Johnson just last offseason. If the Panthers can afford him, then Avril is a great option.