Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC South [Print without images]

Thursday, March 13, 2014
Analyzing Kiper 3.0: Panthers

By David Newton

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. finally has come around to my thinking on the Carolina Panthers having to take an offensive tackle with the No. 28 pick of the NFL draft.

He has, at least for the moment, given up on Carolina taking a wide receiver -- although when Steve Smith is traded or cut, the team won't have any of its top four wideouts from last season under contract.

That could make receiver more of a priority, particularly if the Panthers are sold on Byron Bell replacing Jordan Gross at left tackle.

But I'm not.

So Kiper's pick of Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio makes sense.

Maybe this will be a repeat of last year's draft in which defensive tackle Star Lotulelei was considered one of the top picks -- if not the top pick -- until a medical issue involving his heart at the NFL combine forced some teams to back off.

Carolina got him for a steal at No. 14. Lotulelei played so well he could have been defensive rookie of the year.

Kouandjio was considered one of the top players in this draft until concerns surfaced at the combine about his knee, which doctors have since said is fine. Then he didn't work out at Alabama's pro day, another negative.

If he falls to No. 28, the Panthers can't pass on him. He could be the starting left tackle for the next 10 years.

If not him, then Virginia tackle Morgan Moses.

If not one of them, then Kiper and I will agree it's a wide receiver.

Check out a complete look at Kiper's 3.0 draft Insider.