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Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Three draft options for the Panthers

By Pat Yasinskas

Let’s continue our series of first-round draft options for each NFC South teams with the Carolina Panthers.

They currently are scheduled to pick 14th overall. Here are three guys I can see the Panthers taking with that pick:

Sheldon Richardson, defensive tackle, Missouri: The interior of the defensive line has been a problem spot for the Panthers for a long time. Richardson instantly could fix that problem.

Tavon Austin, wide receiver, West Virginia:  This might seem a little early to take a guy who projects as a slot receiver and return man, but the Panthers could use a big-play guy in their passing game. Slot receivers are becoming more important across the league. It’s also possible the Panthers see Austin as more than a slot receiver in the long term. Once upon a time, this team drafted Steve Smith to be a return man and a fourth receiver. He turned out to be a Pro Bowler. Austin could end up being the eventual successor to Smith.

Kenny Vaccaro, safety, Texas: Is it really necessary to draft a safety in the middle of the first round? It might be when you look at what the Panthers currently have at safety. They also have a huge need at cornerback, but I’m not sure the value will be there at No. 14. At least in this scenario, the Panthers would be strengthening one portion of a weak secondary.