2012 NFL Draft - Carolina Panthers

Posted Apr 28, 2012

Carolina Panthers - NFC South, 2012 Draft Selections & Prospects

Carolina Panthers

2012 NFL Draft Team Analysis - AFC
EAST Buffalo | Miami | New England | NY Jets
WEST Denver | Kansas CityOakland | San Diego
NORTH Baltimore | Cincinnati  Cleveland | Pittsburgh
SOUTH Houston | Indy | Jacksonville | Tennessee

2012 NFL Draft Team Analysis - NFC
EAST Dallas | NY Giants | Philadelphia | Washington
WEST Arizona | San Francisco | Seattle | St. Louis
NORTH Chicago | Detroit | Green Bay | Minnesota
SOUTH Atlanta | Carolina | New Orleans | Tampa Bay   

- 2011 Carolina Draft Breakdown
- 2010 Carolina Draft Breakdown

The Draft Was ... not really going to help outside of the stud up top. The Panthers got their star linebacker in Luke Kuechly, but he was a no-brainer with the ninth overall pick. Amini Silatolu was a high-rising guard prospect and the Panthers got him at the 40, but everyone else was a big reach. Considering defensive tackle was a must-get, they didn't do anything to fill the need in a draft loaded with great prospects for the interior. There weren't any big steals in a boring draft.
Best Value Pick: WR Joe Adams, Arkansas, 4th round
Worst Value Pick: DE Frank Alexander, Oklahoma, 4th round
They Should've ... beefed up the defensive interior. Kuechly is going to be fantastic, and there's no arguing with the pick as a prospect, but the Panthers had to find a disruptive force for the defensive interior and didn't. Dontari Poe went two picks later and Fletcher Cox went to Philadelphia at the 12.
Division Draft Ranking: 3
Overall Draft Ranking: 22

First Round

ILB Luke Kuechly, Boston College (Jr.) 6-3, 242
Overall Pick No. 9 CFN Overall Ranking: 5

CFN Analysis: Carolina has its quarterback for the defense for the next several years. A rock in the middle, he's great pick. However, the Panthers needed to find a defensive tackle and passed over Dontari Poe and Fletcher Cox for a linebacker who can do just as much for the run defense, but now the Panthers have to address the D line and the corner situation next. There's no arguing, though, with a player who'll be one of the top five tacklers in the league right away.

A tackling machine, he has been among the best linebackers in college football over the past three years, but it wasn't until last season until he finally started to get his just due and recognition. He doesn't miss stops when he gets to a ball-carrier and he's always, always, in the right position at the right time. His instincts are peerless and he's the type of leader and worker that every coach wants to have. There were some concerns about his overall athleticism, but he answered those at the Combine showing enough quickness and speed – he was among the best linebackers in the short drills - to make everyone happy while doing it at a beefed up 242 pounds. Throw in the 27 reps on the bench, and he put it all together to be a top 15-caliber pick. The only downside is that this is it. He's not going to get bigger, faster, or much stronger, and while some might think about putting him on the outside, he's an inside linebacker. That should be just fine, though, as he'll be a longtime defensive mainstay and anchor.
CFN Projection: First Round

Second Round

OG/OT Amini Silatolu, Midwestern State 6-4, 312
Overall Pick No. 40 CFN Overall Ranking: 73
CFN Analysis: There was a time midway through the draft process when he was considered to be an almost certain late first rounder. He might be raw, but he's a mauler with the versatility to play just about anywhere on the line. This is a little bit of a shocker considering the Panthers still need more help for the defense, but he's a rising prospect who should be a key part of the running game from Day One.

Versatile, he's athletic for his size and could easily fit at tackle without losing any of his power. Phenomenally strong and with good explosion, the raw tools are there to go along with a mauling attitude. Getting him fired up to bury his man isn't an issue. A D-II product, he'll need some work, but there's nothing major that needs tweaking or working; he just needs a little bit of technique work to harness his talent. If anything, his mistakes usually come from trying too hard. There are durability concerns, and schoolwork was an issue, but he's a promising developmental pick with excellent upside.
CFN Projection: Third Round  

Fourth Round

DE Frank Alexander, Oklahoma 6-3, 270
Overall Pick No. 103 CFN Overall Ranking: 234

Very long with a big frame and great size, he's got the body to go along with the pass rushing ability. When he gets around the edge and he's able to get to the quarterback it's over. He's a terrific closer and has a great final step with the ability to work in several alignments and produce. However, he's not a great athlete and doesn't stand out physically in any one way. While he was productive and was a top-level Big 12 sacker, he doesn't quite have enough to be a specialist at the next level and has a very, very short ceiling. If he makes it, it'll be as a backup.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round

Fourth Round

WR Joe Adams, Arkansas 5-11, 179
Overall Pick No. 104 CFN Overall Ranking: 137
The straight-line speed might not be elite considering his size, but he's smooth as glass with elite quickness and the ability to break down and destroy defenders in the open field. On-field fast, he can take the top off a defense and produced at a high level as a punt returner. The versatility will be a key to his career with the skills to be a dangerous No. 3 target and a game-changer on special teams. There's a concern that he only caught three touchdown passes last year even though he was a part of the Arkansas high-octane puzzle, and there were way too many drops. Not physical in any way, he's slight and should get pushed around by an NFL defensive back. There's a chance he'll never be able to get off the line.
CFN Projection: Third Round

Fifth Round

CB Josh Norman, Coastal Carolina 6-0, 197
Overall Pick No. 143 CFN Overall Ranking: 146

Slow, and that's the problem. He couldn't get under 4.6 and he'll never have the wheels to stay with the faster receivers. However, he was terrific at the lower level as one of the most productive playmakers in the FCS over the last few years. With nice size, good jumping ability, and an uncanny knack for being around the ball all the time, he could be a free safety in the near future. That future has to be now at 24 years old, and turning 25 during the season; he has maxed out on what he'll be physically. Good enough to be a reliable part of someone's secondary in some way, shape, or form, but he'll have a short career and needs to be what he's going to be right away.
CFN Projection: Third Round

Sixth Round

S Trent Robinson, Michigan State (FS) 5-10, 195
Overall Pick No. 180 CFN Overall Ranking: 120

With just enough talent to be a very, very nice tweener who can play a variety of roles, he has decent enough size to get by as a corner and he's as fast as any safety in the draft. A phenomenal athlete, he cranked out a terrific 4.48 this offseason and was just as quick and impressive in the short drills. However, he's not huge and he gets shoved around a bit. He'll be erased by blockers against the run and he's not going blow anyone up, but he's a battler who doesn't back down from a challenge and seems able to rise up to the moment. There's a chance to come up with a nice future in dime packages and could grow into a ball-hawk with a little bit of time and seasoning.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round 

Sixth Round

P Brad Nortman, Wisconsin 6-2, 213
Overall Pick No. 207 CFN Overall Ranking: Unranked
A big punter with a decent leg, he's a veteran who doesn't get rattled and is good at getting the offense out of a jam. Consistent, he makes up for the lack of a blasting leg by making pinning teams deep and getting good direction. He won't be a special punter, but he won't hurt a team.
CFN Projection: Free Agent

Seventh Round

S D.J. Campbell, California
Overall Pick No. 216   CFN Overall Rank: Unranked
CFN Projection: Free Agent