The Carolina Panthers have gone from Division Champ to laughing-stock over the course of one off-season. Matt Miller takes over as the Panthers General Manager and cures what is ailing the Panthers.

Building Blocks: The Panthers finished the 2008 season as NFC South Champions, which makes you wonder how they can be so bad so soon. The team has been getting older without viable replacements at key positions for years, and bad draft classes have left the team hurting for depth- only one player from the ’05 class is still on the roster. Young players like Jon Beason, Jeff Otah and Jonathan Stewart have Pro Bowl potential, but a make-over is needed from top to bottom.

The Coaches: One of the first changes that must be made in Carolina is the replacement of John Fox. While Fox did lead Carolina to a Super Bowl appearance, his routine is running old. Retired coach Bill Cowher lives in Charlotte and is active in the community. Bringing in Cowher is step one in restoring the Panthers to the NFC elite. The change to Cowher and Butler does mean a 3-4 defense in Carolina.

Head Coach: Bill Cowher
Offensive Coordinator: Chan Gailey (former Steelers offensive coordinator)
Defensive Coordinator: Keith Butler (current Steelers linebackers coach)

2005- 2009 NFL Draft Classes:
Key: Starter |
Back up | No longer on team

2005: Thomas Davis (1), Eric Shelton (2), Evan Mathis (3), Atiyyah Ellison (3), Stefan Lefors (4), Adam Seward (5), Geoff Hangartner (5), Ben Emanuel (5), Jovan Haye (6), Joe Berger (6)

2006: DeAngelo Williams (1), Richard Marshall (2), James Anderson (3), Rashad Butler (3), Nate Salley (4), Jeff King (5), Will Montgomery (7), Stanley McGlover (7)

2007: Jon Beason (1), Dwayne Jarrett (2), Ryan Kalil (2), Charles Johnson (3), Ryne Robinson (4), Dante Rosario (5), Tim Shaw (7), C.J. Wilson (7)

2008: Jonathan Stewart (1), Jeff Otah (1), Charles Godfrey (3), Dan Connor (3), Gary Barnridge (5), Nick Hayden (6), Hilee Taylor (7), Geoff Schwartz (7), Mackenzy Bernadeau (7)

2009: Everette Brown (1), Sherrod Martin (2), Corvey Irvin (3), Mike Goodson (4), Tony Fiammetta (4), Duke Robinson (5), Captain Munnerlyn (7)

Players: As noted above, the draft was not kind to Carolina in ’05 or ’06, although getting DeAngelo Williams was a great pick up now that he is healthy. To fix what is broken in Carolina we must focus on improving the defensive line, adding a young quarterback and finding playmakers other than Steve Smith in the passing game.

Keepers:

QB-  Matt Moore (RFA), A.J. Feeley, Josh McCown
RB/FB- DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Mike Goodson, Brad Hoover, Tony Fiammetta, Tyrell Sutton
WR/TE- Steve Smith, Dwayne Jarrett, Jeff King (FA) Kenneth Moore
OL- Jordan Gross, Jeff Otah, Ryan Kalil, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Duke Robinson, Geoff Schwartz, Keydrick Vincent, Travelle Wharton, Garry Williams
DL- Everette Brown, Antwon Burton, Ra’Shon Harris, Nick Hayden, Charles Johnson, Damione Lewis, Hilee Taylor, Corvey Irvin, Louis Leonard
LB- Jon Beason, Dan Connor, Na’il Diggs, Landon Johnson
DB- Chris Gamble, Charles Godfrey, Chris Harris, Sherrod Martin, Captain Munnerlyn, Quinton Teal, Dante Wesley, C.J Wilson
Spec.-  Jason Baker,  J.J. Jansen, John Kasey

Losses:
QB- Jake Delhomme (FA)
WR/TE- Muhsin Muhammad (retire)
DL- Julius Peppers (FA), Tyler Brayton (cut), Ma’ake Kemoeatu (cut)
LB- Thomas Davis (FA), James Anderson (FA)
DB- Richard Marshall (FA)


The Draft:
For Carolina to contend again, they must hit on draft picks in each round that can step in and play as rookies. The ’08 class was solid, and the ’09 class is showing early signs of success.  The trend must continue. With the season off to a terrible 0-3 start, and playing in a tough division with Atlanta and New Orleans, we predict Carolina to earn the #3 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft… but it will go to San Francisco as part of a trade. Carolina will be on the clock at #35 overall.

Needs:
Starters-
QB, TE, DE, DT
Depth- WR, OG, OC, DE, OLB, CB, FS, SS

Picks:
1st- Traded to San Francisco*
2nd-
Corey Wootton, DE, Northwestern
3rd-
Harry Coleman,  SS, LSU
4th-
Chris Hawkins, CB, LSU
5th-
Lamarr Houston, DT, Texas
6th-
Nathan Overbay, TE, Eastern Washington
6th (from Oakland)-
Armanti Edwards, WR, Appalachian State
7th-
Drew Davis, OT, Alabama

Free Agency: Building via free agency can be valuable, and with Julius Peppers and Jake Delhomme coming off the books, Carolina will have money to spend. The big question is can they attract free agents to Charlotte? With Cowher, Mularkey and Butler on the sidelines the free agents will come.

Post-Draft Needs:
Starters- QB, TE, DT
Depth- WR, OG, OC, DE, OLB, CB, FS

Signings:
QB Jason Campbell (WAS), WR Mark Clayton (BAL), Matt Spaeth (PIT), Thomas Howard (OAK), Larry Foote (DET)

Depth Chart:
QB-
Jason Campbell, Matt Moore, A.J. Feeley
RB/FB-
DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Mike Goodson; Brad Hoover, Tony Fiammetta
WR-
Steve Smith, Mark Clayton, Kenneth Moore, Dwayne Jarrett, Armanti Edwards
TE-
Matt Spaeth, Jeff King, Dante Rosario
LT-
Jordan Gross, Garry Williams
LG-
Travelle Wharton, Mackenzy Bernadeau
OC-
Ryan Kalil
RG-
Keydrick Vincent, Duke Robinson
RT-
Jeff Otah, Geoff Schwartz, Drew Davis

LE- Charles Johnson, Corey Wooton
NT-
Damione Lewis, Antwon Burton
RE-
Nick Hayden, Ra’Shon Harris
OLB-
Everette Brown, Hilee Taylor
ILB-
Jon Beason, Landon Johnson
ILB-
Dan Connor, Larry Foote
OLB-
Thomas Howard, James Anderson
LCB-
Chris Gamble, Chris Hawkins, C.J. Wilson
FS-
Charles Godfrey, Quinton Teal
SS-
Chris Harris, Harry Coleman
RCB-
Captain Munnerlyn, Sherrod Martin, Dante Wesley


K-
John Kasey
P-
Jason Baker
LS- J.J. Jansen
KR-
Mike Goodson
PR-
Mike Goodson