2014 NFL Draft: Should Carolina Panthers Trade Up To Draft Clemson Tigers WR Sammy Watkins?

The Carolina Panthers may have put together quite an impressive run in 2013 after getting off to a rough start, but they may have cause for concern after looking at their current roster on offense. Most notably, the fact that not one current wide receiver on the Panthers’ roster has even registered a catch in the NFL. After cutting Steve Smith and watching him sign with the Baltimore Ravens, Carolina may be forced to bring back Brandon LaFell, who is not exactly No.1 WR material. I am not saying that Smith was necessarily the answer as the lead receiver for Carolina at this stage of his career either, but he was still a bigger threat than LaFell. After also missing out on Hakeem Nicks, who left the New York Giants for the Indianapolis Colts, the Panthers are staring at a weak free agent class remaining at wide receiver, unless they want to severely overpay for a player such as Julian Edelman or James Jones. At this point, the best bet for the Panthers to upgrade at WR is through the 2014 NFL Draft, where the class is rather deep. That means that Carolina could select a receiver at No. 28 with its selection in the first round, but if they considered trading up, they could snag a true future No. 1 wide receiver to replace Smith, and they may not have to look too far to do so, especially if they were to move up high enough to draft Clemson Tigers WR Sammy Watkins.

Sure, it would be a bold move. It would mortgage a couple of future drafts, because moving up from No. 28 into the top 10 would obviously cost a few picks. But can you put a price on drafting a legitimate No. 1 go-to wide receiver who has it all? Watkins has the speed, the hands and the elusiveness to be a top-flight wideout in the league for many years. Wouldn’t it make sense to give Cam Newton a weapon going forward that would give immediate credibility to a somewhat inconsistent Panthers’ passing offense?

The likelihood of something of this magnitude happening is unlikely. Still, not many teams saw the Atlanta Falcons moving all the way up from the end of the first round to the No. 6 spot a few years back to draft Julio Jones. And this is a team who already had Roddy White as a true No. 1. The Panthers have nothing even close.

Carolina has the defense to compete for years to come. But, they compete in the NFC South with a couple of prolific offenses who can still put up some points. The Panthers could use an upgrade in order to keep their place as legitimate playoff contender. Watkins would do exactly that.


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About the author

Rob Kelley

Rob Kelley is a sports reporter for various newspapers in Florida, and is trying to break back into the sports writing game after a brief hiatus following the publishing of his first book, I'm Not a Quitter. He recently resigned as Editor-in-Chief and lead writer for The South Shore Magazine to pursue better opportunities. You can follow him on Twitter @RobKelley24.