Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(FILE - This Dec. 24, 2011 file photo shows Carolina Panthers' Steve Smith (89) on the sidelines against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C. A person familiar with the situation says Panthers five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Steve Smith has agreed to a contract extension that will likely keep him with Carolina for the remainder of his NFL career. The new contract runs through the 2015 season, the person told The Associated Press) Tuesday, April 10, 2012, on condition of anonymity because the team has not yet announced the deal. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone, File)
NFL Draft: Panthers look to find replacement for receiver Steve Smith

First Published May 05 2014 08:40 pm • Last Updated May 05 2014 11:24 pm

Charlotte, N.C. • The Panthers say they’d like to find a replacement for longtime No. 1 receiver Steve Smith in this year’s NFL draft.

The big question is when they’ll do it.

At a glance

Five things to watch in draft

On the front burner » Former Utah star Jordan Gross, right, retired this offseason and left a huge hole at left tackle — one the Panthers potentially could address in Round 1. Carolina general manager Dave Gettleman said there are some tackles in the draft don’t have “left-tackle feet,” but said that doesn’t necessarily matter. “There are only so many elite tackles,” he said. “There are plenty of guys playing left tackle in this league that don’t have classic left-tackle feet.”

First-round finds » The Panthers have had tremendous success with their first-round picks the last three seasons. They grabbed defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, right, from Utah at No. 14 in 2013, and he looks like he’ll be around the NFL for a while. They drafted linebacker Luke Kuechly (the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year) at No. 11 in 2012 and QB Cam Newton first overall the year before that.

Blue goose » Last year, Gettleman said the Panthers needed to add some “hog mollies,” or big linemen. This year, the Boston native switched gears, saying if there is a “blue goose” pass rusher at No. 28, he wouldn’t pass on him. Tough to know what a blue-winged bird native to Ethiopia has to do with football, though.

Cornerback on radar » The Panthers lost starting cornerback Captain Munnerlyn in free agency. While they signed free agent Antoine Cason, don’t rule out cornerback as an option with one of the team’s top three picks. The Panthers have a pick in each of the seven rounds.

No reaching » The Panthers are determined not to reach for picks at positions of need. They followed that plan last year and took defensive tackle Kawann Short from Purdue in the second round — even after taking Lotulelei in the first.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The Panthers have the 28th overall pick, but the NFC South champions have a variety of needs after getting hit hard in free agency, and could go in a number of directions with their first-round choice.

General manager Dave Gettleman said recently that receiver, offensive tackle and cornerback are among the team’s top needs, but qualified that statement by adding he won’t got out of his way to land one. "When you reach for a position of need, you’re in trouble," he said.

Gettleman said he has some reservations about drafting a receiver in the first round because it often takes them longer to adjust to the NFL game than those who play other positions.

"History tells you that it’s a very difficult position to assimilate into [the NFL], especially with the current game being played at the college level," Gettleman said.

Gettleman called it a "receiver heavy" draft that includes several players who’ve put up big numbers. He said the trick is finding guys who can easily make the transition to the next level.

"I’ll look at a guy and he’s caught 90 balls … but of those 45 were flash screens," Gettleman said. "The other 45 he caught, he ran to three spots. So, do they understand coverage? They’re going to have to learn the whole route tree. How long is it going to take them to assimilate? It’s an issue. It’s a problem."

Smith was released in a salary cap move earlier this offseason. Replacing his toughness and production won’t be easy.

He caught 836 passes for 12,197 yards and 67 touchdowns for the Panthers in 13 seasons. However, after averaging 76 receptions for 1,284 yards receiving and 5.5 touchdowns in his first two seasons playing with quarterback Cam Newton, Smith’s numbers fell off in 2013. He caught 64 passes for 745 yards and four TDs.


story continues below
story continues below



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.