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Cyrus Kouandjio possible target for Panthers in first round

The conventional wisdom regarding the Carolina Panthers and the 2014 NFL Draft is that the team will spend a number of picks on the wide receiver position. It doesn't take much to see that quarterback Cam Newton needs some weapons to throw to if the team hopes to repeat its improbable run from last season, but that might not automatically translate to drafting a receiver in the first round.

"The left side of the offensive line has been wiped out as well," NFL Media analyst Brian Baldinger said on "Path to the Draft." "I'm a big fan of Cyrus Kouandjio. I know he has some issues with his knee, and I don't know what his medical is. But the value on film, just watching him at Alabama, he dominates the line of scrimmage. I don't care how fast he runs the 40 in. That guy has quick feet, and he'd be perfect at left tackle."

Kouandjio was red-flagged at the NFL Scouting Combine because of the questionable health of his knee, and he has been working hard over the past few weeks to alleviate any concerns teams might have about it. At his pro day workout in early April, he was put through a marathon session that showed off how well he could perform, and he has been holding a number of private workouts with teams.

As for the Panthers, you don't expect a 12-4 team to have as many holes on the depth chart as they do, but that's partially the result of a tumultuous offseason. Left tackle Jordan Gross retired, and their top three receivers -- Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn -- all found new homes. Add in the departures of Captain Munnerlyn and Mike Mitchell in the secondary, and there's a number of spots the team has to address in the draft.

Carolina picks 28th in the first round, and most mock drafts have the team grabbing a receiver there. While receivers such as Brandin Cooks, Kelvin Benjamin, Davante Adams and Odell Beckham could be available when it's the club's turn to pick on the first night, the quality of receivers available this year could allow the Panthers to go after that position later in the draft and grab someone like Kouandjio in the first round.

"More and more people are saying you've got to protect Cam Newton," analyst Charles Davis said. "Cyrus Kouandjio, Morgan Moses, a Joel Bitonio if those other guys are gone. I wouldn't be shocked if they went tackle first with the depth of wide receiver in this class."

In addition to those aforementioned players, linebacker Ryan Shazier could also be a possibility late in the first round as the team looks to shore up the weakside linebacker position next to Luke Kuechly.

NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah believes the club could target Rice corner Phillip Gaines and Clemson corner Bashaud Breeland on the second day of the draft to add depth to the secondary as well.

Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter @BryanDFischer.

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