Carolina Panthers 2014 Draft: The Good, the Bad and the Baffling

Knox Bardeen@knoxbardeenNFC South Lead WriterMay 10, 2014

Carolina Panthers 2014 Draft: The Good, the Bad and the Baffling

0 of 4

    Jason DeCrow/Associated Press

    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.

2014 Draft Picks

1 of 4

    Jason DeCrow/Associated Press
    1. Round 1, Pick 28 (28th Overall) – Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
    2. Round 2, Pick 28 (60th Overall) – Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
    3. Round 3, Pick 28 (92nd Overall) – Trai Turner, OG, LSU
    4. Round 4, Pick 28 (128th Overall) – Tre Boston, SS, North Carolina
    5. Round 5, Pick 8 (148th Overall) – Bene Benwikere, CB, San Jose State
    6. Round 6, Pick 28 (204th Overall) – Tyler Gaffney, RB, Stanford

The Good

2 of 4

    Round 1, Pick 28 (28th Overall) – Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

    At 6’5” and 240 pounds, Benjamin is almost physically unstoppable from a coverage standpoint. He’s got such a large catch radius and enough of a vertical leap to be able to grab footballs that no one else can get.

    If Benjamin can fix his issue with dropped passes, he might turn into an elite NFL receiver. Even if he doesn’t, he’ll be a steal for the Panthers.

     

    Round 2, Pick 28 (60th Overall) – Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri

    If the Panthers can find a way to get Ealy on the football field with Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy, opposing quarterbacks should be very afraid. Ealy has first-round skills, and it’s amazing he lasted all the way to the 60th pick in the draft.

    There’s a chance Ealy was added as insurance to Johnson or Hardy leaving the team in 2015. If that’s the case, he’s one heck of an insurance policy.

     

    Round 3, Pick 28 (92nd Overall) – Trai Turner, OG, LSU

    There’s no reason why Turner should have been available to the Panthers at pick No. 92. Carolina got an absolute steal by grabbing him.

    He’s a stout run-blocker who still needs to learn the tools of the trade, but his power and ability to move his feet, combined with a mean streak, should make running backs looking for holes behind him very happy.

     

    Round 5, Pick 8 (148th Overall) – Bene Benwikere, CB, San Jose State

    This late in the draft, it’s hard to score on a pick, especially when the pick is a ball-hawking cornerback with great tracking skills.

    Carolina’s front seven is extremely potent, and opposing teams are going to have to try to air out the ball to beat the Panthers. Benwikere can help slow that down.

The Bad

3 of 4

    Round 4, Pick 28 (128th Overall) – Tre Boston, SS, North Carolina

    The Panthers are going to have to assemble another defensive backfield, as they lost so much talent from last year’s team, but adding Boston in the fourth round (especially with better options still on the board) seemed like a reach.

The Baffling

4 of 4

    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Round 6, Pick 28 (204th Overall) – Tyler Gaffney, RB, Stanford

    Much of the conversation surrounding the running back corps in Carolina over the last few seasons revolves around money. Why did former general manager Marty Hurney spend so much on running backs?

    DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert were the trio that drained Carolina’s pocketbook, and they’re all still on the roster, not to mention Kenjon Barner hanging around as well.

    With so much depth needed elsewhere, how could the Panthers fathom selecting a running back in this draft?