The Panthers are the face of inconsistency, coming off an up-and-down 2009 season following a playoff berth in 2008.
With talks of coach John Fox making a premature exit and Julius Peppers following suit, it's difficult to think about the team in general and their needs. Positionally speaking, the Panthers are strong and vibrantly youthful, but depth is the true concern for the team on the edge of greatness.
Like any other team, the Panthers are eying the draft with a sparkle of lust and a tentative desire for finding the right player to complement their roster. The possibility of an uncapped year narrows the free agent market down a bit, but at 8-8, Carolina is in position to strike a deal and, if they're lucky, football gold.
Biggest Needs: OG, OT, QB, WR
In 2008, the Panthers had the most dominant offensive line in the industry. Each position had depth so injuries were never really a concern. In fact, three backups on Carolina's O-line left the team to become a starter on another team for the '09 season.
Now, without depth, each position is an area of concern going into the offseason, but the true needs are at left guard, where injuries forced back up Mackenzie Bernadeau to shore up the middle for the final three games. A big, lumbering guard out of the draft would provide all the security the team needs.
When Jordon Gross exited the season with an injury, the team was left with Travelle Wharton and Jeff Otah, two efficient tackles who made leaping strides to improve their technique. A tackle in the later rounds of the draft would make the coaches breathe a little easier, though.
Jake Delhomme is still under a very pricey contract, but it's clear the team is ready to move in another direction after the veteran fell flat on his face in the '09 season. Time and again, the team put their trust and confidence in him only to be rewarded with another loss.
The team gave young Matt Moore the reins to the offense and he answered with three wins for every game he played. Even though the team failed to make the playoffs, the future is a little more hopeful now under the arm of the young quarterback. I expect the organization to still seek out a quarterback, possibly of the future in the draft, maybe Daryl Clark, if only for security's sake.
Steve Smith returned to true form near the end of the season, a by-product of a new quarterback with a stronger arm. With veteran Muhsin Muhammad only getting older, the team will need to find a new number two wide out since Dwayne Jarrett has failed to impress thus far.
Jeremy Williams out of Tulane has the size and the athleticism to fit into the Panthers style of offense and could do nicely as a future complement to Steve Smith.
For the Panthers' defensive needs and the rest of this article, go here.