NFL Draft 2012: 4 Weapons the Carolina Panthers Should Select for Cam Newton
Cam Newton is having one of the most explosive rookie seasons in the history of the NFL. He has shattered all doubts that he can compete in the NFL and established himself as a threat to defenses everywhere.
It is obvious that the Carolina Panthers have found their franchise quarterback for years to come. Now the only thing left to do is surround their new star with weapons that can put up the big numbers.
The 2012 draft class is filled with offensive tools that Carolina could add to their arsenal. Defense is obviously the biggest necessity for the Panthers, however if they elect to choose offense first, these are the top four picks they should take.
1. Justin Blackmon
Justin Blackmon is a monster receiver and has been a major weapon under Brandon Weeden’s arsenal. With over 1200 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns this season, his transition into the NFL should be smooth and painless.
Although he is only 6'1", he possesses the speed and ability to confuse and disrupt defensive backs. If anyone has proven that height isn't everything, it's the Panther's own Steve Smith. Similar to Smith, Blackmon has the strength to break tackles and produce at just the right times.
The Carolina Panthers need a playmaker to allow Steve Smith single coverage, and drafting Blackmon could be perfect timing. With Smith, Blackmon, and rising receivers Brandon Lafell and Legedu Naanee, the Panthers would have plenty of targets for Cam Newton going forward.
2. Alshon Jeffery
A little beefier than Justin Blackmon at 233 lbs, Alshon Jeffery is a physical wideout able to handle double coverage. South Carolina has slacked this season in getting him the football, but he is easily a top receiver in this year's draft class and at least a top-30 pick.
Standing at 6'4", Jeffery has the potential to become an elite receiver in the Carolina playbook. Although potential does not always translate into success, the Panther's have a booming offense that would certainly be able to incorporate a big body like Alshon.
If he can slim down a little and work on his 40 time during the offseason, he could find great success at the pro level. If the Panthers draft a defensive player first, Alshon Jeffery could be a great second round snag and a key receiver under Cam Newton's offense.
3. Matt Kalil
With All-Pro tackle Jordan Gross not getting any younger, the Carolina Panthers may elect to draft USC’s star offensive tackle, Matt Kalil.
The Panthers will want to keep star Cam Newton healthy, and not many can provide the level of protection that Kalil brings to the table. If he's anything like his brother Ryan—who happens to play center for Carolina—then he would be a great pick capable of obtaining double teams as well as opening up gaps for the running game.
Carolina's offensive line has done an excellent job keeping Cam Newton out of too much danger this season and with Matt Kalil they would only be increasing the protection of that investment.
4. Nick Toon
With the spotlight being held firmly on Heisman finalist Montee Ball, it is easy to see why Wisconsin's Nick Toon would slip through the cracks. Taking a look at the way Russell Wilson and Toon connected throughout the previous season, there is no doubt that he would make a great second receiver to the Panther offense.
Toon isn't the physical body like the previous receivers on this list, but he is a great fundamental player with a great work ethic. He won't sell out any seats or make the explosive plays, but he has the ability to move the chains and make solid catches.
If Carolina decides to draft defense in the first round, Nick Toon could be a great second or third-round pick up to add a little more firepower to the offense.