The NFL Draft is now over. Let the draft grades begin!
As a Panthers fan I Googled the phrase "Carolina Panthers Draft Grades" about a dozen times today and found 10 reputable sites that were willing to let me take peak at their report cards. I thought it would be helpful for the rest of you Panthers fans to compile these links in one comprehensive, convenient home.
Here is how ten of the top draft gurus/analysis/pundits/ill-informed-wild-guessers graded the 2012 Carolina Panthers draft:
In all, seven of the 10 gave the Panthers a respectable "A-" or "B+" grade. If the Panthers were a high school student applying for colleges with these grades they would not be good enough to get into Harvard (the Super Bowl), but the Panthers would not need to settle for Arizona State (going 6-10 again), either.
While grading an NFL draft immediately after it happens is an inexact science, to say the least, there were several trends and consistent opinions that emerged from the draft grades for Panthers fans to keep an eye on.
1st Round: Luke Kuechly, LB - Potential for Greatness. John Czarnecki of Fox Sports said "(Kuechly) has the potential to be another Brian Urlacher" while the staff at the National Football Post called Kuechly "as safe as any prospect in the draft."
2nd Round: Amini Silatolu, OL - Run Blocker Extraordinaire. Sports Illustrated's Peter King labeled the Panthers pick of Amini Silatolu as the "Best Pick, Offense" in the entire draft. King said, "Multiple teams targeted him late in the first round, and GM Marty Hurney got a great value here." Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports called him "a terrific run blocker" and Rotoworld's Evan Silva called him "a difference-making run blocker."
4th Round: Frank Alexander, DE - Will the Gamble Pay Off? NFL.com's Mike Lombardi said "the guy I really like coming out is Frank Alexander, he reminds me of (Mike) Rucker." John Czarnecki of Fox Sports summed up the risk of the Alexander selection very well when he wrote "they surrendered next year's third round pick and a sixth-round pick in order to take…Alexander. He better get six to eight sacks this year to be worth that!" Meanwhile, Rotoworld's Evan Silva wrote that GM Marty Hurney's willingness to give up two draft picks for Alexander "hinted at desperation after Carolina went three rounds without supplementing a defensive line that is unimpressive aside from Charles Johnson." The reviews were very mixed on the selection of Frank Alexander and the price the Panthers paid to get him.
4th Round: Joe Adams, WR/PR - Kill Two Birds With One Stone? The 2011 Panthers special teams were anything but special and the wide receiver corps lacked depth. Fortunately Carolina was able to nab Arkansas' WR/PR Joe Adams. CBS Sports' Pete Prisco labeled Adams as the Panthers "Best Pick." The Charlotte Observer said "Adams, SEC Special Teams Player of the Year, can create field position" while John Czarnecki called Adams "the draft's best returner." From a receiving standpoint, Adams has the potential to be "a nice gift for Cam Newton" according to Vinnie Iyer of the Sporting News. The National Football Post said Adams "gives (the Panthers) a 'plus' deep threat who can take the top off a defense and should help out on special teams early on."
5th Round: Josh Norman, CB - Late Round Gem? Pete Prisco of CBS Sports labeled Norman as the Panthers Late-Round Gem who Prisco "loves." The Staff at CNNSI said that getting Josh Norman "in the mid-rounds cannot be overlooked." The National Football Post Staff wrote that they "loved…the value of 5th round pick Josh Norman." Hmm, lots of love for Norman, it seems.
6th & 7th Rounds: Brad Nortman, P and D.J. Campbell, DB. No specific references to either of these draft picks were made in the above-mentioned articles.
It is hard to evaluate the quality of an NFL draft until the players have been in the league for three years. While 2015 seems like a long time from today, the knee-jerk reaction is that the Panthers seemed to have a strong draft, mostly in the A-/B+ range.
My hope as a Panthers fan is that regardless of the immediate draft grades, the 2012 draftees help the Panthers get back into the playoffs. With a resurrected Cam Newton-led offense and a hopefully healthy defense, the 2012 Panthers are knocking on the door of a great season.
Let's hope these draft picks help bust that door down.
*Cat Scratch Reader Note: Rather than assigning an overall grade, James Dator of the CSR graded the Panthers draft an "A" for Team Fit and a "B+" for Immediate Impact. I took the liberty of averaging these out to an overall "A-".
Andrew Sweat is a die-hard Carolina Panthers fan. More from this author:
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