Most teams use the NFL draft to find the future of their team. The draft is designed to allow teams to continue to build upon the previous year's success or plug holes for a glaring need. Some players aren't fortunate enough to be drafted and sign with a team of their choosing.
Sometimes these players see limited success as a professional player. However, there are others who go on to have a great career.
The Carolina Panthers are hoping to find a diamond in the rough among the undrafted players who signed with them. The Panthers signed 13 undrafted free agents and have already cut three of them: offensive guard Robert Jones, linebacker Demario Jeffery and wide receiver Trey Diller.
Here are the players who could prove to be long-term fixtures on the Carolina roster for next few seasons.
As noted in previous articles projecting the Carolina Panthers depth chart, Colby Cameron could be in a good position to beat out Jimmy Clausen for the third quarterback spot on the roster. While the third quarterback will most likely be inactive on Sundays, the winner of the position battle could be in the driver's seat to replace Derek Anderson when he leaves Carolina.
Clausen was a second-round pick in the 2010 draft and when he reported to the team, there were a lot of high hopes. Those hopes came crashing down as Clausen never really seemed to be comfortable on the field and was replaced by Cam Newton the following year.
Since Clausen is in his final year of his rookie contract, he could very well be let go before the season begins if Cameron has a better camp and preseason.
Cameron is no stranger to high-octane offenses as he was the field general for a potent Louisiana Tech team in college. That could serve him well when working with the Panthers offense.
Make no mistake, this is Newton's team, but Carolina will benefit from having a young, talented backup who is capable of coming in and making plays if called upon. As history has taught us, it never hurts to have a talented backup standing on the sidelines.
While Melvin White failed to make the final roster in the latest depth chart predictions, he could very well end up on the scout team. For argument's sake, let's say he does make the 53-man roster. The Panthers need a lot of help in the secondary and with the plethora of youth at cornerback, White could be in a great position to earn a spot on the team.
White hails from Louisiana-Lafayette and has already impressed the coaching staff during OTAs.
The real test will come during camp and how well he fares against established NFL veterans. He should receive plenty of help from Steve Smith and Domenik Hixon when it comes to learning the ropes of covering a professional receiver.
Along with the offensive veterans offering their guidance, White will benefit from learning about the position from Captain Munnerlyn and Drayton Florence.
No one has really quite stood out at cornerback and with Munnerlyn playing on a one-year deal and the uncertainty of some of the other corners, White may be able to do enough to impress and hang around for quite some time.
Yet another player not predicted to make the final roster and another position that has more questions than answers. Morgan Lineberry has a good enough leg to kick in the NFL and will have to get by current Panthers kicker Graham Gano.
Carolina hasn't had a solid solution at kicker since John Kasay, and Gano has only played part of one season with the team. While other position battles will take center stage, this one is still important. Lineberry could experience a camp similar to Justin Medlock, but he will need to show more than Medlock did a year ago.
The Panthers need a strong kicker who can be clutch and for the most part the jury is still out on Gano. There is one positive to take away from this competition: The winner will give Carolina a young kicker who could establish himself as the long-term solution in the kicking game.
This is a case of saving the best for last. Robert Lester has the experience and pedigree to be a champion and a playmaker having played his college ball for the Alabama Crimson Tide. He could have been drafted had it not been for the success of Dee Milliner overshadowing him and two ho-hum seasons after leading the SEC with eight interceptions in 2010.
Just like Melvin White, Lester is in a great position to take advantage of a unit that lacks a quality playmaker and so far, has impressed the Panthers coaching staff with his play during OTAs.
Of the players listed here, he could find himself starting sometime during the season. He has that kind of potential.
If he continues to grow during camp and listen to the instruction from his coaches as well as taking in the advice of veteran Charles Godfrey, he could have a promising career in Carolina.
The Panthers could end up with four gems at the conclusion of camp, but Lester may just be the biggest gem of all.