The 2012 NFL season is winding down and with six weeks remaining before the playoffs begin, many teams that are out of contention are looking to the future and figuring out who will best help them move forward. The Carolina Panthers (2-8) are one of those teams.
After beginning the season amidst a lot of optimism and Super Bowl aspirations, the Panthers find themselves with the third worst record in the league and the worst in the NFC. At the rate Carolina is playing given their failure to close out games, they will most likely hold a top five pick for the second time in three years.
The good news for Carolina is they may not have to worry about addressing as many needs as they had to over the last two seasons. However, despite the improved play of the defense, they will most likely want to pursue a young, talented defensive tackle first to anchor the line for a long time. Once they have acquired the defensive tackle they have desperately needed for awhile, it's anyone's guess as to who they will draft next.
Will they shore up the secondary? Or will they add another lineman to protect Cam Newton? They could draft a speedy wide receiver that will eventually replace Steve Smith. Carolina needs to address holes at defensive tackle, safety, offensive tackle and possibly outside linebacker.
Despite not having an established draft order and the unknown of what kind of transactions will be made that will either add or subtract picks, here are five picks the Panthers could make in order to get their team moving in the right direction.