The Carolina Panthers are coming off a great season that has set them on a course for success in the coming years. They were 12-4 in the regular season and made their way to the playoffs through a potent stable of running backs and a back-breaking defense.
While they clearly took many steps forward, there are some obvious improvements that must be made roster-wise, and they can address them in the upcoming draft.
They will be looking to take a receiver or two, and a great prospect to keep in mind is Brandon Coleman. The former Rutgers receiver has a massive frame that could become a genuine weapon for Cam Newton.
He has the ability to win jump balls and is big enough to go across the middle and up the seam without fearing a big hit. Coleman is just one of many late-round sleepers who could contribute to the Panthers positively.
Mike Campanaro is one of the most sure-handed receivers in the draft and is excellent at tracking the ball into his hands. He fits best as a slot receiver due to his size, but he is strong enough to go against the defensive grain and reel in passes.
Camp has pretty good speed and excels at finding soft spots in opposing defenses. The Panthers aren't deep at the receiver position whatsoever and could use another target like Campanaro to help out Cam Newton even more.
He doesn't fully fix the issues Carolina has at receiver, but he could do very well as its third receiver or as a rotational player.
Camp is an intriguing guy who could develop into a Wes Welker-type receiver, which would aid the Panthers offense quite a bit. Plus, with all the athleticism in Carolina's offense, Campanaro could plug into a few different places on offense and could even return punts/kicks if the Panthers were so inclined.
Yes, the Panthers already have a star tight end in Greg Olsen, but Jacob Pedersen could be a great complement. Olsen does well in blocking but is clearly more of a receiver, while Pedersen is more of a blocker than receiver.
He also possesses good speed and is big enough to pluck the ball away from smaller defenders. If he is drafted by the Panthers, he will more than likely be used as a blocker and could prove to be very valuable.
Pedersen could even play a role similar to what James Casey is for the Philadelphia Eagles—a tight end/H-back that can block well and pull in a big catch every now and then. He could fit right into Carolina's offense alongside Olsen and complement his skill set perfectly.
The Panthers boasted one of the league's best rushing attacks in 2013 but did give up 43 sacks on Newton. Pass protection was an issue for them at times, and the offensive line could definitely use a couple of upgrades. While Chaz Green may need some coaching up, he's a very interesting prospect to consider.
He was one of the best rising linemen a couple of years ago as a sophomore in Gainesville but missed this past season with injury. The year before he was injured, he was an important piece of Florida's rushing attack and could bring that same grit to Carolina.
The Panthers already have a solid group in place, but Green's size (6'5", 305 lbs) and experience in a pro-style system such as Florida's make him someone who could (potentially) contribute right away.
Andrew Norwell was an aggressive blocker for the Buckeyes and played well as both a pass protector and run blocker. Norwell's size would make him an ideal fit among Carolina's mammoth offensive line, and he could possibly be plugged in right away.
He has the ability to play both guard and tackle—two positions the Panthers could use some help at. Although he may fare better as a guard before moving to the tackle spot, Norwell would likely end up as the team's right tackle across from Jordan Gross, assuming it can re-sign him.
He's got a load of potential and could be brought along well by Carolina's veterans. For a cheap price, Norwell would be a nice investment.
It's not like the Panthers weren't effective against the pass in 2013, but they could certainly use an athletic safety like Isaiah Johnson on the back end of their defense. Johnson is another guy who missed this past season with injury but could prove to be a difference-maker in Carolina's defense.
He has great quickness but is also an extremely physical defender. Johnson was a leader on Georgia Tech's defense when he wasn't injured and has quite a high ceiling. He's a low-risk, high-reward type of player and could be exactly what the doctor ordered for the Panthers.
Although he will likely be a bit rusty as he returns to football, Carolina has enough depth to let Johnson adjust to the NFL before getting heavily thrown into the defensive rotation. He could develop into a great starter, and Carolina may find itself with a rather commendable draft steal.
The Panthers need a No. 2 receiver badly, and Brandon Coleman could be the guy they need. They have a true No. 1 in Steve Smith but would surely benefit from having a big-bodied receiver across from him to pull in jump balls.
Carolina has had some success with taller receivers when paired with Smith before, and Coleman could make a similar impact. He's a threat to score any time his team is nearing the goal line, and that is something that's been missing from Carolina's bag of tricks in recent years.
He was a scoring machine in college (second-leading touchdown scorer in Rutgers history) and could help improve a Panthers passing attack that ranked as the league's fourth-worst unit. Can you imagine what the Panthers could do if they had an offense as scary as their defense? Coleman could be the missing piece to an explosive passing game.