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NFL DRAFT 2014: Panthers look to find long-term replacement for No. 1 WR Steve Smith

The Panthers say they'd like to find a replacement for longtime No. 1 wide receiver Steve Smith in this year's NFL draft.

The big question is when they'll 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 pick.

General manager Dave Gettleman says wide receiver, offensive tackle and cornerback are among the team's top needs, although he's quick to add the Panthers won't reach for a player because of need.

Gettleman says he has some reservations about drafting a receiver in the first round because it often takes them longer to assimilate to the NFL game than those who play other positions.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL