This should go without saying. The Panthers either need a quality starter or a solid backup to add depth to their roster. Some of the immediate needs come from the offensive and defensive lines as both units are in desperate need of a quality starter.
Carolina has needed a top-tier defensive tackle for a while now, and after disregarding the position last year in favor of linebacker Luke Kuechly, it is almost a given that the will use its first draft pick to shore up the interior of the defensive front.
Luckily, there are a few quality players at the position who are certain to be available in the first round.
Another possibility is for the Panthers to spend their first pick on an offensive tackle. Jordan Gross is not getting any younger and Byron Bell may not be the solution on the other side. A young tackle brought in to be groomed by the veteran linemen would be ideal, as it would fit into the youth movement philosophy and provide the Panthers with a reliable player for the next several years.
Another weak area that has plagued Carolina has been the lack of overall team depth.
This is most noticeable in the offensive line and the secondary, though defensive tackle is starting to take a hit. Backups are not expected to be as good as the starters, but they aren't suppose to be a liability when given the opportunity to play either.
Captain Munnerlyn has played well since filling in for the injured Chris Gamble, but he isn't the type of player who needs to be starting at the position. The lack of depth has given rookie Josh Norman the chance to showcase his talents at the other corner position, and while he is still mistake prone, he shows signs of having immense talent.
While both of these corners have done an admirable job, they are both in a position where they cannot afford to get injured.
Special teams has been a problem in recent years and many fans find themselves holding their breath each time the Panthers are returning a kick or covering a kickoff. The punting and kicking games haven't been much better as punter Brad Nortman has had a series of short kicks resulting in excellent field position for the opposition, while Carolina signed it's third kicker in two years.
The good news is that these are relatively small fixes. However, they are glaring enough that they can make the difference in a tight ball game. If the Panthers can address these needs, then they will be taking that first step towards being a legitimate contender.