2013 Record: 12-4
Notable Losses: Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn Jr., Jordan Gross (retirement), Travelle Wharton (retirement), Mike Mitchell, Quinton Mikell, Captain Munnerlyn, Drayton Florence
Notable Gains: Tiquan Underwood, Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant, Ed Dickson, Roman Harper, Thomas DeCoud, Antoine Cason
Draft Class: Kelvin Benjamin, Kony Ealy, Trai Turner, Tre Boston, Bene Benwikere, Tyler Gaffney (now with Patriots)
The Facts: The Panthers lost Steve Smith and their entire receiving corps and didn't really do much to fill that loss. Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant were both low priority passing options on their respective teams and Tiquan Underwood was a constant project in Tampa Bay. And don't tell me that Cotchery caught 10 touchdowns in Pittsburgh, his career path indicates that he's not likely to repeat that ever again.
They drafted Kelvin Benjamin, who will make some circus catches and his height and speed should surely make him a useful deep-threat/red zone target, but he's still raw in the route-running department and his hands were labeled as an area of concern. Greg Olsen should be a reliable target at tight end but Ed Dickson ... not so much. Mike Tolbert, Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams should make for a good three headed monster rushing attack, something the Panthers might be doing a lot of with the lack of a reliable passing game.
Offensive line is a concern with the retirement of Jordan Gross and Travelle Wharton and the lack of suitable replacements. The secondary took a blow with the loss of Captain Munnerlyn, Mike Mitchell and Drayton Florence, but they signed Thomas DeCoud, who was a Pro Bowler in 2012, but fell off in 2013.
They'll get some help from their defensive line, which will probably have to do without Greg Hardy for a period of time. The Panthers had an excellent 2013, but a repeat of that is unlikely given their offseason.
If you disagree with my ranking and assessment remember: Unless it's something crazy, your guess is as good as mine.