The Carolina Panthers 2012 season was over early as they stumbled the first half of the season. Yet they finished strong at 7-9 and saved Ron Rivera's job. A key ingredient to their success in the latter part of the season was their commitment to the run, which they abandoned quite a bit in the first half.
Now that Ron Rivera will be back, it'll be interesting to see what type of player they take. Will they go for the high motor defensive lineman that Rivera loves? Or, do they look ahead and take an explosive playmaker, knowing that Steve Smith is aging. Either way, with the 14th pick in the first round, the Panthers should be able to get an impact player.
One thing is certain. Rivera's leash will be very short in 2013. The Panthers have to start out strong and can't afford another 2-8 start like they did in 2012.
Matt Miller and I rounded up a bunch of football fans, gave them hats and B/R swag, then headed over to Highland Park here in New York City and tried to figure out where the Panthers have the most pressing needs heading into the 2013 NFL draft.
Let us know in the comments below whether you agree or disagree with our assessments, and what other needs we might have missed.