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NFL Draft Preview: Carolina Panthers needs and projected picks

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Team Needs: OT, DE, RB

Projected Top Three Picks:

First Round- Jonathan Allen, DE Alabama

Second Round- Alvin Kamara, RB Tennessee

Third Round- Marcus Maye, S Florida

The 2016 Carolina Panthers season can be summed up as a Super Bowl hangover. After being so dominant on both sides of the ball in 2015, this team looked lost on the field for the majority of the 2016 season. Now entering the 2017 draft, the Panthers will be looking for a shot of adrenaline to climb back up on the horse and again be a contender in the NFC.

Even after the signing of Julius Peppers, this team would be silly to pass up on superior pass rushing talent Jonathan Allen with the eighth pick in the first round. He will infuse a little exuberance on the defensive line, and can play the run just as well as the pass. He can immediately make an impact for this defensive unit in Fantasy, and plugging him in should again make them a starting defense for owners.

After possibly missing out on Leonard Fournette with the first pick, I honestly would not be shocked to see them trade back in the draft for a running back like Dalvin Cook or Christian McCaffrey. But I have them staying the course and selecting Alvin Kamara in the second round. Kamara is talented enough to sneak into the first round, and he could emerge into quite the player in the NFL. The former Alabama prospect flashed great potential while at Tennessee.

Once given the reigns as the lead back, he showed a strong skill set both running between the tackles and he is possibly most dangerous as a pass-catcher. Paring him with the grinding Jonathan Stewart will make a formidable duo, as long as Stewart stays on the field. You can expect that Kamara will see time as the lead back as the year moves along, and adding in his appeal as a pass catcher, he could be quite the late round steal in PPR formats.

NFL Draft Preview: Carolina Panthers needs and projected picks

Even in his rookie campaign, 40 catches and seven TDs is not out of reach for him. If the Panthers do make this selection, I will be looking for him as an RB4 in drafts, but don’t be surprised to see his stock rise through training camp. Just be smarter than the other owners in your league and know when to grab him.

Cam Newton’s passing game will look to rebound and show its 2015 form this next season. Newton is coming off shoulder surgery, and the hits he has taken over the years may have started to take a toll on his body. I for one believe that his statistical output in 2015 was an anomaly. In the past, Newton has finished near the Top 5 at the position, but that was due in large part to his rushing totals.

He is inconsistent as a passer, often overthrowing open receivers, and he still has trouble reading defensive adjustments. He has weapons to utilize in Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin. Look for the Panthers to add a receiver and some depth along the offensive line in this draft, which they sorely need. Newton will again be drafted among the Top 10 QBs in Fantasy, but I will be staying away this season. He is a headache that I will gladly allow other owners to take on.

Team Ranks:

Passing Offense- 230.3 YPG (21st)

Rushing Offense- 113.4 YPG (10th)

Points Per Game- 23.1 PPG (15th)

Top Fantasy Performers:

QB- Cam Newton- 241 points

RB- Jonathan Stewart- 129 points

WR- Kelvin Benjamin- 128 points

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