North Dakota St. OT on Panthers' wish list?

March, 6, 2014
Mar 6
8:00
AM ET
As left tackle Jordan Gross held his retirement news conference in the bowels of Bank of America Stadium last week, the Carolina Panthers scouting department already was upstairs making its list of college prospects to bring in for an official pre-draft visit.

North Dakota State tackle Billy Turner apparently was one of those.

NFL.com's Gil Brandt tweeted that Turner will visit the Panthers, Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, saying it's one of the earliest scheduled visits he could remember.

At 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds, Turner turned some heads at the Senior Bowl. He's not rated among the top tackles. Auburn's Greg Robinson, Texas A&M's Jake Matthews, Michigan's Taylor Lewan, Notre Dame's Zack Martin, Alabama's Cyrus Kouandjio and Tennessee's Antonio Richardson consistently rank among the top six.

But Turner is in that second-tier mix with Virginia's Morgan Moses, Ohio State's Jack Mewhort, Clemson's Brandon Thomas and North Carolina's James Hurst.

He's likely a second-round pick at best, so don't look for the Panthers to use the No. 28 pick on him.

But with an upgrade needed on the offensive line, and knowing general manager Dave Gettleman likes building from the inside out, don't be shocked if Carolina takes a couple of tackles in the first three or four rounds.

They did draft defensive tackles Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short with their first two picks a year ago, and that turned out pretty good.

Turner's visit doesn't tell you much about what the Panthers are doing in the first round, only that they are preparing to address their weaknesses -- and tackle is a big one, along with wide receiver and secondary -- throughout the draft.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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