Panthers depth chart and needs on offense

May, 6, 2014
May 6
8:00
AM ET
The NFL draft begins on Thursday, so here's a breakdown the Carolina Panthers depth chart to give you a better picture of the team needs after free agency.

I'll take a look at the offense today and the defense on Wednesday.

To be clear, this isn't a depth chart provided by the team. This is me filling in the blanks with the talent the team had after last season and added in free agency.

It surely will change once the draft picks are added, but at least it gives a snapshot of how the team looks and where it has the most to gain.

Let's get to the offense:

Quarterback

Projected starter: Cam Newton

Backups: Derek Anderson, Matt Blanchard, Joe Webb

Draft need: Before the addition of Joe Webb I felt the Panthers needed to look at a mobile quarterback in the late rounds to potentially groom behind Newton. Not necessary now.

Running back

Projected starter: DeAngelo Williams

Backups: Jonathan Stewart, Kenjon Barner

Draft need: The Panthers already have too much money tied up in Williams and Stewart, and they want to get a look at Barner this season. A running back for this team is not worth a draft pick. They have bigger needs at other positions.

Fullback

Projected starter: Mike Tolbert

Backups: Richie Brockel, Michael Zordich

Draft need: Might be worth a late-round pick to add quality depth at this position and give the team flexibility if they want to part with Tolbert's salary in the next year or two.

Wide receiver

Projected starters: Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant

Backups: Tiquan Underwood, Tavarres King, Marvin McNutt, Kealoha Pilares, Toney Clemons, Brenton Bersin

Draft need: If one of the top five or six wide receivers is on the board at No. 28 the Panthers likely will take him. They won't have a shot at Clemson's Sammy Watkins or Texas A&M's Mike Evans. But if Oregon State's Brandin Cooks, LSU's Odell Beckham or Southern California's Marqise Lee is there he would be hard to pass up with the need for a young, dynamic receiver. After that the value in the second round might be just as good. Plus the Panthers want to see what youngsters Underwood, King and McNutt can do.

Tight end

Projected starter: Greg Olsen

Backups: Ed Dickson, Mike McNeill, Brandon Williams, D.C. Jefferson

Draft need: The additions of Dickson and McNeill in free agency pretty much shut the door on a tight end being in the draft plans.

Center

Projected starter: Ryan Kalil

Backups: Brian Folkerts

Draft need: Maybe a mid-to-late round pick on a player who could back up at guard and center.

Leff tackle

Projected starter: Byron Bell, Nate Chandler or draft pick

Backups: Bell or Chandler, Travis Bond, Andrew McDonald

Draft need: Like the wide receiver spot, if one of the top four fell to 28, he would be hard to pass on with the need to find a replacement for retired Jordan Gross. Auburn's Greg Robinson and Texas A&M's Jake Matthews will go in the top 10 picks, probably the top five. So the Panthers would have to bank on Michigan's Taylor Lewan or Notre Dame's Zack Martin to fall to them. That is a long shot. Alabama's Cyrus Kouandjio also might be an option if the Panthers are convinced his knees aren't an issue. Otherwise, the value in the second or maybe even third round might be worth the wait.

Left guard

Projected starter: Amini Silatolu

Backups: Edmund Kugbila, Michael Jasper, Oscar Johnson

Draft need: Carolina remains high on Silatolu, a second-round pick in 2012 who started 15 games as a rookie and was the starter last season before suffering a torn ACL in the fourth game. They also want to find out what Kugbila, a fourth-round pick a year ago, can do. He spent last season on injured reserve. If there are any concerns at this position, veteran Travelle Wharton remains unsigned. Not worth a draft pick here.

Right guard

Projected starter: Chris Scott or Garry Williams

Backups: Scott or Williams, Derek Dennis, Phillipkeith Manley

Draft need: Williams and Scott started here a year ago before knee injuries, the worst to Williams who was lost for the year in the opener with a torn ACL. Nate Chandler stepped in and did a nice job, but the Panthers like him more at tackle. Regardless, there are plenty of capable bodies that Carolina doesn't need to spend a draft pick here.

Right tackle

Projected starter: Garry Williams, Nate Chandler or Byron Bell

Backups: Williams, Chandler or Bell

Draft need: Williams has started 13 games at right tackle, and Chandler was being groomed to play there. Depending on what happens between Bell and Chandler at left tackle, the loser of that battle could move back to the right side. If Carolina takes a tackle with the first pick to fill a big need, it will be one that can anchor the left side but possibly spend a year on the right if he's not ready. Otherwise, you might see Carolina wait and take a player to groom at tackle in the second or third round.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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