Offensive tackle an obvious option for Panthers in first round

The Carolina Panthers have the need, and could take an offensive tackle with the first-round selection in the 2015 draft.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. —When it came time for the Carolina Panthers to select in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, most just assumed they would go after an offensive tackle. Instead, general manager Dave Gettleman shocked fans and media alike by taking wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who turned out to be a solid addition to the team.

Now, once again, all the draft experts and pundits are saying Carolina will take an offensive tackle in the first round of this year’s draft in late April. And seeing how the team desperately needs at minimum a left tackle, there’s good reason to say that.

However, it’s not a guarantee by any stretch, as some think the Panthers could take another wide receiver to pair with Benjamin, or a defensive back. There’s even a chance a defensive lineman’s name could be called, and Gettleman has admitted to be always looking for one.

With that said, here’s a look at some of the likely candidates at offensive tackle that Carolina might take with the 25th overall pick in this year’s draft:

Flowers has the ability to play just about anywhere on the offensive line, and at his size he’s definitely a force to be dealt with. What makes him a solid prospect is his strength and quick feet to go along with his house of a body.

The biggest question with Flowers is whether or not he’ll still be available for the Panthers to pick. Many believe he’ll be gone by the 25th pick.

"I enjoy run blocking. I think I still have my best ball ahead of me and haven’t come close to touching it so I’m just working on everything," Flowers said at the NFL combine. "I can play anything. I can play and am comfortable at left tackle, I can play right, left guard, right guard, anywhere. I can play center, too."

Clemmings is rather new to the position, having switched from defense to offense after his sophomore season at Pitt. He still needs to and wants to put on a little more size. He is considered a raw talent, with a ton of upside. He’s a good pass blocker, and even though he played left tackle in college, early on he’d likely be a right tackle, though many feel he’d be able to move to left tackle right away.

"I’m prepared to work and play both sides," Clemmings said. "Whatever the team wants me to do, I will be prepared.

"I only had two years on the offensive line under my belt and that’s not going to change from now to the draft. I need some work in some things and I am not afraid of that. I am ready to work on things that people feel I need to work on."

He’s an everyman, and Ogbuehi can play just about anywhere on the offensive line. He started at right guard as a sophomore, at right tackle as a junior and at left tackle as a senior. He’s very agile, but he’s been injury prone his entire career. In fact, he’s currently recovering from an ACL tear that will keep him out most likely until training camp in late July.

"I’m convinced I’ll be back by training camp," Ogbuehi said. "ACL isn’t a death injury. You can come back next year, you’re full go again.

"(If a team drafts me, they’re getting) a great player. A top player in this class."

After starting out as a very good defensive lineman, Erving was switched to the offensive side of the ball and quickly found his stride. He quickly earned spots on All-American teams at left tackle. He played the final few games of his stay at Florida State at center after the starter went down, and some feel that he may be a center in the NFL. He’s extremely versatile and a great athlete. He tends to rely on his athleticism more than technique, but that’s easily fixable.

Many draft experts are mixed on Erving as some view him as a first rounder, while others think he could easily fall into the second round.

"When I’ve been in meetings, they’ll ask me about center or tackle to see how well I take in the defense," he said of interviews at the combine. "I don’t know exactly what certain teams have in store for me, regardless of where I go I’ll always be the same way in doing whatever the team needs.

"I’ve played center. I’ve played tackle. I love playing both positions. I love playing football. I couldn’t tell you what I’d rather play."