The Carolina Panthers might have one of the toughest roads to get back to the playoffs of any team that played in the postseason last year.
The Panthers have been hit by injury (quarterback Cam Newton had offseason ankle surgery), retirement (starting left tackle Jordan Gross, plus others) and a mass exodus of talent at the wide receiver position (every receiver that caught a pass for the Panthers last season left via free agency).
The offseason hasn’t been pleasant for the Panthers.
Then free agency didn’t work out well for general manager Dave Gettleman. With little money to make a huge splash, and few top-line stars willing to relocate and play for the Panthers, Carolina had to watch talent leave with lower-quality players coming in to replace them.
But the draft was a new story.
If the Panthers could pull off a stellar draft, staying on top of the NFC South might be a realistic goal. If not, it could be a very long season in Charlotte, N.C.
Here’s a look at the Panthers’ draft, and the good, the bad and the baffling picks.