NFL’s Future is breaking down all 32 teams drafts in 32 days, starting with the Carolina Panthers:
Carolina needed to come out of the 2011 NFL Draft with a franchise quarterback, two defensive tackles, corner, and a playmaker on offense at the wide receiver spot. I have seen other draft sites (reputable ones) give the Panthers a C, D, F grade for this draft. Most of this grade is/was determined by the fact that they took Cam Newton first overall. I say it again; you can’t put a grade on a guy who hasn’t taken an NFL snap.
NFL talent evaluators are great at their jobs and several of them thought Cam Newton was the best player in this draft. So be it. I learned a long time ago not to judge something that if hit on 50% of the time you are great (hence why I don’t talk about weather). The reality is Carolina got what they needed (minus a playmaking WR) with a limited amount of resources (no 2nd round pick).
1. Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Whether you agree or disagree that Cam Newton will be a productive quarterback at the NFL level this pick had to be made. Carolina brass knows Jimmy Clausen was a mistake and won’t lead an NFL to substantial wins. Newton’s talent is undeniable now the question is will he put the time and effort into being great.
65. Terrell McClain, DT, South Florida
Terrell McClain was a must for the Panthers at the top of round 3. Some would argue he was a slight reach but McClain was high on many draft boards. I have no doubts he would have been long gone by their pick at 97. McClain is capable of starting immediately for Carolina and a solid pick in the third.
97. Sione Fua, DT, Stanford
Fua fulfilled another need for Carolina as the second DT. Aside from just filling a need he is a good fit next to McClain. Fua was a little lower on my draft board than 97 but does appear to be a good fit.
98. Brandon Hogan, CB, West Virginia
Brandon Hogan is a second round talent who slipped to 98 because of injury concerns and off field issues. I did not have on my draft board because of the above issues. However, if he is able to overcome those issues he would be a steal as a 4th round pick.
132. Kealoha Pilares, WR, Hawaii
Pilares was a questionable pick in my book. I didn’t see a lot on tape that warranted consideration to even be drafted. At pick 132, Carolina could have had a better option at the WR position. I would think if they were targeting Pilares they could have got him at least a round later.
166. Lawrence Wilson, OLB, Connecticut
The Panthers found solid LB depth at the top of round 6. Wilson is a solid value at 166 and could see significant time on special teams as a rookie.
203. Zachary Williams, C/G, Washington State
In all honesty, I had to look Williams up because I knew nothing of him. The Panthers needed depth on the interior line and his versatility will do just that.
244. Lee Ziemba, OT/G, Auburn
Ziemba’s slide was surprising to me. I had him rated higher than some but viewed him as a top 150 value. I think he could not only make the team but contribute early in his career.
As a whole Carolina did a good job of filling needs with fairly solid value. While Cam Newton is probably not ready to start, it won’t be long until he is forced to fill that role. Terrell McClain should start on a talent-void defensive line with Fua a possibility to see significant playing time. Also, Brandon Hogan could see action in nickel and dime packages.
BEST VALUE: Lee Ziemba
POTENTIAL SLEEPER: Brandon Hogan
IMMEDIATE STARTER: Terrell McClain