Panthers sign top picks Lotulelei, Short

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


Drafting defensive tackles Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short met Carolina Panthers' general manager Dave Gettleman's primary objective -- improving the front seven to be better prepared to contend with the star quarterbacks in the division.
Both are now under contract after signing deals Thursday, as did fifth-round linebacker A.J. Klein and running back Kenjon Barner, a sixth-round pick. Carolina now has all five of its draft picks signed.
Lotulelei, a 320-pound nose tackle with raw power and impressive agility for his size, was the 14th overall pick. He was projected through most of the draft process as a top-10 prospect but a possible heart issue detected at the NFL Scouting Combine -- subsequently dismissed as any threat to his general health or playing career -- might have give some teams pause about the massive run-stuffer.
Short was the 44th overall pick and Gettleman said he felt Short was the best pass-rushing interior lineman in the draft.
Gettleman, plucked from the New York Giants' personnel department to replace Marty Hurney, experienced the success a deep and talented defensive line brought Tom Coughlin's Giants.
Short was a four-year starter at Purdue, where he had 19.5 career sacks and blocked eight kicks.
Lotulelei had 20 tackles for losses at Utah, including 6.5 sacks.