Carolina Panthers Midseason Draft Talk: Key Needs, Possible Picks in 2013

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Carolina Panthers Midseason Draft Talk: Key Needs, Possible Picks in 2013
Kuechly was the surprise pick of the 2012 draft, but who will Carolina select in 2013?

The 2012 NFL season is far from over. However, depending on who your team is and whether it has two or fewer wins, you may be inclined to feel the season is done.

The Carolina Panthers (1-4) are one such team that has many wondering if its season is lost. While they are regrouping during their bye week after a disappointing start, they will look to return and finish the season strong.

Of course, during the poor start, the Panthers' opponents have exploited their weaknesses, and how Carolina finishes could determine which areas the team addresses first.

The most obvious weakness is the defensive line, which has been the Achilles' heel of the defense (with the secondary being a close second), leaving Carolina without much presence in the interior.

If the Panthers continue to play the way they are playing right now, chances are that they will only record three or four more wins before the season is out.

A finish like that would guarantee the loss of jobs and a high first-round draft pick.

According to ESPN's Scouts Inc. Top 32, there are three top-tier defensive tackles within the 15 best 2013 draft prospects. Given that there are eight such positional players listed among the the site's Top 32, Carolina could theoretically finish anywhere and still draft a quality defensive tackle.

Based on how bad the secondary has been, it should be noted there are only two safeties and one cornerback on this list.

It's easy to assume how the Panthers will approach their draft strategy. However, the recent injury to center Ryan Kalil may prompt them to look at drafting a quality lineman to start grooming for the future. After all, Cam Newton will need quality protection if he is to succeed as the franchise's quarterback.

This is a very premature look at draft-eligible players, but it never hurts to start discussing the areas that need to be addressed. Obviously, there will be several defensive tackles listed here, but there are a few other positions the Panthers may consider, too.

Remember the curveball they threw everybody in the first round of last April's draft?

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