Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton silenced all his critics with a tremendous rookie season but if he wants to build upon that success he's going to need an offensive threat from the 2012 NFL draft.
Defensive-minded head coach Ron Rivera will likely push for defensive playmakers and while the Panthers do need to address their defense, the offense does have some holes to fill. News of left guard Travelle Wharton's release has fans thinking Carolina should consider drafting an offensive lineman, especially considering the past two seasons' nagging injuries to right tackle Jeff Otah.
Selecting a polished offensive lineman with the No.9 pick would be a wise decision but with so much depth at that position in the draft, the Panthers could wait until the later rounds to make their move.
When I say Carolina needs to pick up an offensive threat in this year's draft I'm talking about the type of player who can be a weapon for Newton. The one-two-punch of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart in the backfield is one of the best in the NFL so I'm assuming running back won't be atop the Panthers' list, but wide receiver and tight end should be.
Playing with an elite receiver like Steve Smith really helped Newton feel comfortable in the Panthers offense and tight ends Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey were a nice security blanket for the young quarterback. All that said, Smith and Shockey have each been playing for more than 10 years and while they can still be productive next season, there's no telling how many years they have left after 2012. Adding a receiver or tight end would help the Panthers next season as well as in the future.
But which offensive threats should Carolina keep on their radar? Here's 10 players the Panthers can't pass up whether its the first or last round.