CHARLOTTE, N. Nick Schmaltz Jersey .C. - The Panthers say theyd like to find a replacement for longtime No. 1 wide receiver Steve Smith in this years NFL draft. The big question is when theyll do it. The Panthers have the 28th overall pick, but the NFC South champions have a variety of needs after getting hit hard in free agency, and could go in a number of directions with their first-round choice. General manager Dave Gettleman said recently that wide receiver, offensive tackle and cornerback are among the teams top needs, but qualified that statement by adding he wont got out of his way to land one. "When you reach for a position of need youre in trouble," he said. Gettleman said he has some reservations about drafting a receiver in the first round because it often takes them longer to adjust to the NFL game than those who play other positions. "History tells you that its a very difficult position to assimilate into (the NFL), especially with the current game being played at the college level," Gettleman said. Gettleman called it a "wide receiver heavy" draft that includes several players whove put up big numbers. He said the trick is finding guys who can easily make the transition to the next level. "Ill look at a guy and hes caught 90 balls ... but of those 45 were flash screens," Gettleman said. "The other 45 he caught, he ran to three spots. So, do they understand coverage? Theyre going to have to learn the whole route tree. How long is it going to take them to assimilate? Its an issue. Its a problem." Smith was released in a salary cap move earlier this off-season. Replacing his toughness and production wont be easy. He caught 836 passes for 12,197 yards and 67 touchdowns for the Panthers in 13 seasons. However, after averaging 76 receptions for 1,284 yards receiving and 5.5 touchdowns in his first two seasons playing with quarterback Cam Newton, Smiths numbers fell off in 2013. He caught 64 passes for 745 yards and four TDs. The Panthers signed free agents Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant and Tiquan Underwood, but none is expected to become the next No. 1 receiver in Carolina. Five things to watch from the Panthers in the draft: ON THE FRONT BURNER: Jordan Gross retired this off-season, leaving a huge hole at left tackle — one the Panthers potentially could address in Round 1. Gettleman said there are some tackles in the draft dont have "left tackle feet," but said that doesnt necessarily matter. "There are only so many elite tackles," he said. "There are plenty of guys playing left tackle in this league that dont have classic left tackle feet." Finding a left tackle might take on added importance given Newton is coming off ankle surgery this off-season. FIRST ROUND SUCCESS: The Panthers have had tremendous success with their first-round picks the last three seasons. They grabbed defensive tackle Star Lotulelei from Utah at No. 14 in 2013, and he looks like hes going to be around the league for quite a while. They drafted linebacker Luke Kuechly at No. 11 in 2012 and quarterback Cam Newton first overall the year before that. Kuechly was the 2013 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, while Newton was the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2011. BLUE GOOSE: Last year, Gettleman said the Panthers needed to add some "hog mollies," or big linemen. This year, the Boston native switched gears, saying if there is a "blue goose" pass rusher available at No. 28 he wouldnt pass on him. Tough to know what a blue-winged bird native to Ethiopia has to do with building a football team, though. CORNERBACK ON RADAR: The Panthers lost starting cornerback Captain Munnerlyn to Minnesota in free agency. While they signed free agent Antoine Cason, dont rule out cornerback as an option with one of the teams top three picks. The Panthers have one pick in each of the seven rounds. DONT BE REACHING: The Panthers are determined not to reach for picks at positions of need. They followed that plan last year and took defensive tackle Kawaan Short from Purdue in the second round — even after selecting Lotulelei in the first. "Last year, K.K. (Short) was obviously the best value in that second-round pick," Gettleman said. ___ AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL Brett Hull Jersey . Dwyane Wade followed a few days later. Custom Arizona Coyotes Jerseys . The judge sternly instructed the prosecutor to restrain himself and he apologized -- then went right back to trying to pick holes in the testimony of the double-amputee runner. It was a harsh day of cross-examination for Pistorius, challenged relentlessly about his account of the moments just before he killed Reeva Steenkamp, as well as circumstances related to several firearms charges against him, including the firing of a gun in a crowded restaurant.BALTIMORE -- Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman is appealing his six-game suspension that Major League Baseball imposed for throwing at the head of a Baltimore hitter. MLB penalized Stroman on Wednesday and also fined the 23-year-old rookie an undisclosed amount. The suspension had been set to start on Wednesday night when the Blue Jays played at Baltimore. Because Stroman is appealing, no penalty will take effect until there is a resolution. "Its tough," Stroman said before Wednesdays game. "Its in the appeal process now. I would never intentionally throw at anyone. I respect the game.. Dan Focht Jersey. . I respect the players too much to ever do anything like that. Family, friends, teammates know the type of individual I am." Asked if was surprised about the punishment, he replied, "Im not surprised, just being the game that it was. Well see how it plays out." On Monday night, Stroman threw a pitch that sailed past the head of Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph. Stroman stayed in the game, struck out Joseph to end the inning and engaged the Baltimore dugout as he left the mound. Stromans pitch came a half-inning after Joseph blocked the plate as Jose Reyes slid home. ' ' '
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