Last week, Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said last year’s starting right tackle, Byron Bell will move to the left side. He also added that Bell may be the starter at left tackle, a sentiment head coach Ron Rivera echoed. In the story we ran on cover32, we pointed out why it may not be a terrible thing since Bell is naturally left-handed, a better pass protector than run blocker, and is still just 25.
Now the question is how does this affect the Panthers’ plans for the upcoming NFL Draft? If Carolina has their starting left tackle, does this mean they may opt for a wide receiver with the 28th overall pick instead of an offensive tackle?
The answer is probably not.I don’t think Gettleman and Rivera are lying to us about Bell potentially being the starter at left tackle, but they’re both aware that there’s a strong chance he’s not the long-term answer.
What moving Bell to the left side does is it allows Carolina to ease a rookie offensive tackle in by starting them out at right tackle, perceived to be an easier position or at least one without as steep of a learning curve. Perhaps more importantly, it allows them to take the best offensive tackle available, even if they’re better suited on the right side. This would apply to Tennessee’s Antonio Richardson and Notre Dame’s Zack Martin, both of whom have been discussed as potential options for the Panthers.
Carolina could very well be looking to take another offensive tackle early in next year’s draft if Bell doesn’t pan out, but this was a distinct possibility before he moved to the left side.