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Carolina Panthers Finding Huge Value in 7th Round Draft Picks - Fan's Analysis

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The Carolina Panthers recently traded tackle Jeff Otah to the New York Jets for nothing more than a seventh round pick, though the trade was later vetoed after Otah failed his physical with the Jets.

So why would the Panthers want something as relatively meaningless as a seventh round draft pick?

Because the Carolina Panthers regularly find value in the seventh round.

Over the last five years (2007-2011) Carolina has selected eight players in the seventh round. Remarkably, seven of the players became "solid contributors" or "role players" while only one had "no value." Here is my analysis as a Panthers fans of these late draft picks:

Solid Contributors - 7th Round Picks, 2007-2011

Geoff Schwartz - T, 2008. Schwartz spent his rookie season on the practice squad then appeared in all 16 games in 2009, including three starts. He was then moved into the starting lineup for the entire 2010 season. However, Schwartz spent all of 2011 on the IR then signed with the Minnesota Vikings.

Mackenzy Bernadeau - G, 2008. While Bernadeau did not play during his rookie season in 2008 he became a regular in 2009, appearing in all 16 games and starting the last seven games filling in for injured starter Jordan Gross. He then played in 31 of 32 games in 2010 and 2011 before signing with the Dallas Cowboys.

Captain Munnerlyn - CB, 2009. Munnerlyn has played in 45 of 48 games in his three-year career, including 23 starts. The young CB has recorded 146 tackles, 18 passes defended, three interceptions, and two sacks in his career with the Panthers. Captain Munnerlyn looks to be a solid contributor for years to come.

Role Players - 7th Round Picks, 2007-2011

C.J. Wilson - CB, 2007. Wilson appeared in 23 games between 2007-2011 as a reserve defensive back and special teams player. In his four years in Carolina he registered 27 tackles (including 13 in 2011) and four passes defended before signing with the Dallas Cowboys at the end of the 2011 season.

R.J. Standord - CB, 2010. Stanford had a solid 2011 season appearing in 12 games and registering 13 tackles, one interception, and one pass defended. He will likely play a similar role in the secondary in 2012.

Robert McClain - CB, 2010. As a rookie in 2010 McClain played in all 16 games and his 11 special teams tackles were third most on the team. McClain started two games when the Panthers went with a dime package (vs. ATL) and a nickel (vs. ARI). McClain was waived by Carolina before the 2011 season and now plays for the Atlanta Falcons.

Lee Ziemba - T, 2011. In fairness, Ziemba value is still "To Be Determined." The Panthers have a stacked offensive line and yet Ziemba made the 53-man roster as a rookie and appeared in six games, though primarily on special teams.

No Value - 7th Round Picks, 2007-2011

Hilee Taylor - DB, 2008. Taylor recorded just six tackles in 2008 and 2009 combined before missing the 2010 season on the IR and being waived by the Panthers in 2011.

The Carolina Panthers have had remarkable success over the last five years in finding value in the seventh round.

While player retention has been an issue, look for recent seventh rounders like Captain Munnerlyn, R.J. Stanford, and even Lee Ziemba to make contributions in lifting the Panthers to the playoffs in 2012.

Andrew Sweat is a die-hard Panthers fan. For more from this author, visit Andrew's archive or check these out articles:

Compiling the 2012 Panthers Draft Grades Into One Easy-to-Use Reference

World's Most Dangerous Job: DT, Carolina Panthers

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