May 12, 2012; Charlotte, NC, USA Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly (59) stretches during the afternoon workout session at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE

Analyzing the Panthers Draft: Upsides, Downsides and Needs

Now that the draft is over we look at the picks, how they fit into the Panthers picture and what

additional needs will be required. Remember they eventually need to get down to 53 plus 5

practice squad members.


Let’s look at this by positions – let’s look at offense first.


Each position shows projected starter followed by backups


QB, Newton, Anderson, Clausen

HB/FB, Tolbert, Brockel

RB, Williams, Stewart, Vaughn

WR, Smith, Gettis, Edwards

WR, Lafell, Pilares, Adams

LOT, Gross, G. Williams, Campbell

LOG, Silatolu, Pollak

C, Kalil, Hangartner, Byers

ROT, Hangartner, Williams, Browning

ROT, Otah, Bell, Zeimba

TE, Olsen, Hartsock, Barnidge

LS, Jansen

P, Nortman

K, Mare, Medlock



DE, Hardy, Alexander, Norwood

DE, Johnson, Applewhite, Keiser

OLB, Beason, Davis,

ILB, Kuechly, Beason, Senn

OLB Anderson, Phillips,

DT, Edwards, Fua, Kearse

DT, McClain, Shipley, Neblett

CB, Gamble, Butler, Thomas

CB, Mundelin, Hogan, Norman

S, Godfrey, Smith, Davis

S, Martin, Nakamura, Pugh




A number 2 wide receiver that could eventually be Steve Smith’s replacement.

Another OLB that could start if Beason or Davis goes down.

Another DT that could immediately start.

Another ROT if Otah doesn’t work out.

A TE to replace Shockey or bringing him back.


Some of these players won’t make the team this year being replaced by the

draftees. Possibilities are Edwards, Neblett, Thomas and Norwood.



9th pick: Luke Kuechly ILB – Upside –  Always around the ball, solid in pass coverage, smart,

a team leader and best linebacker in the draft. Downside – played on a bad team against

weak competition, safe not flashy.


40th pick: Amini Silatolu OG – Upside – Nasty side, drives opposing players backwards, solid in

both run and pass protection. Downside – Lacks speed, spent two years at Juco level before

settling for a small college, weak grades, may have trouble with a playbook.


103rd  pick: Frank Alexander DE – Upside – Aggressive with a good push, good size, 8 and half sacks

final year. Downside – thought to have heart condition at the Combine but found later to be not so,

most had him in the 6th or 7th round. Panthers gave up a lot (next year’s 3rd and this year’s 6th), so you

would expect for him to start very quickly.


104th pick: Joe Adams WR – Upside – Rated best return man in draft with 4 td’s his last year, great break

away speed, can play the slot as a receiver, 45 receptions his final year. Downside – Juggled too many

punts, 14 fumbles over his career, needs to bulk up and has some health concerns (minor stroke in ’09 due

to migraines.)


143rd pick: Josh Norman CB – Upside – can play both CB and S, excellent size, good speed, athletic

and good hands. Downside – Played against weak competition, not a solid tackler and some

attitude concerns and was projected as a late 2nd, early 3rd  and then slipped some.


207th pick: Brad Nortman P – Upside – 42.1 average on 49 punts with 19 inside the 20. Rated 5th best kicker.

Downside- a stretch at the sixth pick, plus the Panthers plan to bring in another punter to compete.


216th pick: DJ Campbell S – Upside – good hitter, solid tackler, good speed and special team player.

Downside – Panthers are crowded at the safety position and he will have to stand out to get playing time.


GRADE B.  However, based on how Kuechly and Silatolu do, could be an A.


12 free agents were signed after the draft. Most notable were 4 players that were projected 5th to 6th:


Matt Reynolds ORT Brigham Young

Tauren Poole RB Tennessee

Ryan Van Bergen DE Michigan

Will Blackwell C/G LSU


Most likely 2 of these will make the team.

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