Draft review: Carolina Panthers


After analyzing the draft needs of all 32 teams, PFT will review how well each team addressed those needs. Up next: The Carolina Panthers.

What they needed: Offensive tackle, cornerback, safety, defensive tackle, wide receiver.

Who they got:

Round 1: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Round 2: Kawaan Short, DT, Purdue
Round 4: Edmund Kugbila, OG, Valdosta State
Round 5: A.J. Klein, LB, Iowa State
Round 6: Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon

Where they hit: New general manager Dave Gettleman clearly has a plan, and it involves building the Panthers in the image of the Giants. By doubling up with Lotulelei and Short, they added a stout run-stopper and a pass-rusher to the middle of a defensive line that has good talent on the edges. If the two picks can play, they have a chance to be one of the league’s top defensive lines. That’s still an if, however.

Where they missed: Their secondary is kind of a mess, and remained that way. Their hope is that a better pass rush gives teams less time to throw, and it better work. They’re deep in nickels (Captain Munnerlyn, Drayton Florence, D.J. Moore), but two of them will have to start. At safety, they have the acceptable Charles Godfrey and your-guess-is-as-good-as-mine at the other spot. They also failed to add anything at offensive tackle, which means they’re perhaps a year away from a complete rebuild.

Impact rookies: To be honest, their final three picks could have a significant impact, next year. They drafted a Division II guard for the second straight year, meaning there’s pressure on line coach John Matsko to develop some guys. Klein and Barner were value picks for the future, when they start shedding bad contracts.

Long-term prospects: They didn’t have enough picks to fix everything. And let’s face it, the whole building’s on a one-year deal. If Ron Rivera can’t learn to win a close game and push them to nine or 10 wins, the bulk of the team as presently constructed is going away. There’s enough talent for that to be a reasonable possibility, but if they don’t take a significant step forward, a lot of the team’s old core (Jordan Gross, Jon Beason, DeAngelo Williams and perhaps even Steve Smith) will probably be somewhere else next season.

9 responses to “Draft review: Carolina Panthers

  1. If the draft was intended to save Ron Rivera, it would have addressed needs and only needs. Sounds like Gettleman is planning the future now, Rivera’s job be damned. Honestly, when you have that many issues, probably a pretty good master plan.

  2. They need to get cam a big wr and protection up front and they didn’t address that but atleast they have a potential elite def front with the 2 DT’s.

  3. DG, you know good and well that there would be a full out riot if the Panthers EVER released Steve Smith. He will leave the team whenever he wants to.

  4. The other spot at Safety you failed to mention, was DJ Campbell. Who I believe will start over Mitchell, Nakamara or any other Safety not named Godfrey.

    Also Panthers gave up the least amount of yards per reception


    And that is with only the best CB only playing 4 games (Gamble), A rookie Josh Norman (5th rounder out of a D2 school), Captain ( who the pervious year was the worse CB in the league), but Captain makes a better slot guy, then a outside DB. But these guys got better as the year went on, and when Norman got benched, the last 4 games was our secondaries best games, when Thomas, Dockery and Captian were in the slot with Campbell and Godfrey at safety.

    Panthers addressed the interior DL, which has been the biggest issue on our DEF for years. Add in two top DT’s rotating in with Dwan Edwards and then you got Hardy and CJ on the outside, our DL is not going to give QB’s a lot of time to throw, and our secondary is growing. And we added veteran depth.

    Drayton Florence is a serviceable CB and so is DJ Moore who was the starting Nickel Corner on the Bears. who has 9 INT’s in the last 3 years…..

    Panthers DEF is going to shock some people this coming year.

  5. Like to see them get a WR and the draft offered some good ones too. They’re putting it all on the shoulders of Cam once more.

    If anyone saw the end of the Falcons game last season, it’s unthinkable to not draft a safety but they didn’t.

    Another RB? Really?

    Panthers draft wasn’t a disaster by any means but it left a lot to be desired.

  6. Really, this was a good draft. Cam has adequate protection (guess who has taken the most sacks in recent years; Aaron Rodgers, and he’s doing ok as far as i can tell). Our offense is reasonable and capable

    Want to know why the Panthers start out every season slow? Its because their defense can’t get a stop late in games after we’ve got a lead. We have the most 4th quarter collapses than any team in the NFL the last two years. Why? That D-Line is thin, and this draft stocked the shelves with talent. Want to know how Matt Ryan threw up that 80 yard bomb late in the 4th qtr and beat us? not because Nakumara blew coverage (well, partially yes), but its because Matt Ryan had all day to throw the ball. You get a hungry front seven, and QB’s start looking pretty human (look at every Brady Super Bowl vs. Giants). Panthers FTW!

  7. bruiza2k i couldnt said it any better myself! exactly what ive been saying for a long time .Nakurama is not as terrible as made to seem. Really actually none of are DBs really are terrible.It is the fact that if any qb has more than 6 seconds to throw the ball your d-line is not doing their job. Receivers will get open no matter the db given enough time. Then people forgot we are about to have the best LB core in the league which is only a plus for our coverage and Josh Norman or Thomas are full of potential and we had mildly better than average veterans cbs added. The ceiling is high for the Panthers and I believe. And this comes from a fan that wish we did add another WR or FS and will never forget that Nakarama FAIL… but i believe i see what Gettleman is doing and i respect it.

  8. I’m a franchise long fan of the Panthers. Stuck through the good, bad and extremely ugly. Gettlemen is being smart and realistic when making decisions. He had very little to work with when started.

    No real argument can be made about Carolinas first pick. They had to take Star.

    Their second pick could be debated but based off the value, it was also a no brainer. 1 stud DT makes a difference. 2 stud DTs potentially is game changing. Consider the LB depth and solid DEs. This front 7 could be crazy good.

    Panther DB free agent signings before the draft brought in talent level comparable with 4th thru 7th round draft choices. With no 3rd round pick the only other option would be to grab one in the 1st or 2nd. The only DB that could have impacted a team more than Star or Short might be Vaccaro, and he wasnt available. Again, smart and realistic.

    WR additions in Hixon and Ginn provide some depth and competion at the position. Wouldnt have made an impact to get a WR in the 4th or lower this year.

    O-line will be the priority leading up to training camp. Again, value free agents comparable to 4th thru 6th round picks can be found.

    If Rivera pulls his weight this year, watch out!

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