ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay may be right in his latest mock draft. The Carolina Panthers may take a wide receiver with the 28th pick. They may even take Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin, as he projects. Benjamin is a tall, talented player at a position that is in need of an upgrade.
But if quarterback Cam Newton doesn’t have protection and time to throw, Jerry Rice in his prime doesn’t have a chance to catch passes. That's why I still believe the pick will go to a left tackle unless there’s not a quality receiver on the board.
This would be the best long-term solution to replacing recently-retired Jordan Gross.
Carolina’s biggest issue there may be NFC South rival New Orleans, which McShay has taking Virginia tackle Morgan Moses with the 27th pick. The Saints need help on the line as well -- as the Panthers made evident with six sacks against them in a late-season game.
If the Panthers aren’t sold on keeping Steve Smith, the team’s all-time leading receiver who turns 35 in May, then they should find a way to trade him for enough value to move up in the draft and get the player that can make an immediate impact.