Carolina got off to a good start yesterday with the selection of Luke Keuchly (LB, Boston College). He’s a guy, who regardless of how healthy Thomas Davis is, should come in and see immediate playing time in some capacity. The Panthers only had one pick on this second day of the NFL draft. They traded away their 3rd round pick last year to the Chicago Bears in exchange for Greg Olsen. The Panther’s lone pick came in the second round where they selected Amini Silatolu, who was a left guard out of Midwestern State. Now I know what you’re thinking; yes it’s not a very attractive pick, but Silatolu should be able to come in and compete for a starting job from day one. As of right now he’ll be competing with Bryant Browning and Mike Pollack for the starting left guard position and neither one of those guys is anything special. Cam Newton is the biggest piece of this team, so you have to provide him with the proper protection in order to be successful and that exactly what Marty Hurney and Ron Rivera are doing.
I was initially hoping to grab Janoris Jenkins with our 2nd round pick, but he was taken one pick before us by the St. Louis Rams. I also would have loved to see us draft Trumaine Johnson, the cornerback from Montana who is just an absolute physical specimen and looked great in his game tape as well. However, the Panthers filled a need by drafting Silatolu and although it may not be sexiest option it will definitely prove to be worthy in the long run.
One team that is having a great draft so far is a division rival of the Panthers. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made 3 solid selections so far. They drafted Mark Baron (S, Alabama) in the 1st round along with Doug Martin (RB, Boise State), and then they took Lavonte David (LB, Nebraska) who was suppose to be a first round talent at the end of the 2nd round. Martin gives the Bucs a great one-two punch being paired with Legarrette Blount, who is a more physical type of runner. And they also added Vincent Jackson in the off-season who was regarded as the best receiver available in free agency. It looks like the Bucs are going to be solid at both the offensive and defensive sides of the football, and they also still have some late round picks remaining in this weekend’s draft.
The Green Bay Packers are one team that has disappointed me a little bit in this year’s draft so far. They entered the draft with 10 picks to play with and a lot of those picks were in the first 4 rounds of the draft. They took Nick Perry (DE, USC) in the 1st round, which I thought was a decent pick, but could have been better considering Courtney Upshaw (LB/DE, Alabama) was still on the board. Then they traded up in the 2nd round to get defensive tackle Jerel Worthy (Michigan State), which isn’t even a position of need for them (and Worthy wasn’t even the best DT still available). And then they made another move in order to obtain an additional 2nd round pick (62 overall) in which they selected Casey Hayward (CB, Vanderbilt). I think Hayward is decent, but doesn’t have as much upside as Trumaine Johnson or Josh Robinson (CB, UCF), who were both on the board at the time Green Bay was picking. However, you can never really tell about any of these guys until you see them on the field competing against other NFL players. But I definitely think the Packers are one team that could have gotten a lot more value considering the position they were in.
The third and final day of the 2012 NFL Draft starts tomorrow and the Panthers will be looking to fill some holes along their defensive line as well as in their secondary.