I am a carnivore when it comes to the Panthers, so I try to read everything. I was surprised to see that someone would put out a draft analysis so late, but perhaps he's a procrastinator (like me) when it comes to his Internet responsibilities, or maybe he's just busy...Or maybe he needed time to refine his opinion by "acquiring" thought processes from places like the Huddle. In any event, Peter Smith put together a decent synopsis on the draft (@ withthefirstpick.com) and many Panthers fans' ultimate conclusions on our 2013 draft.
One note: I would have sworn that perhaps he was a fan---one of us----but his **reference to us losing Goodson to the Jets shot that theory down, and in a way supports my theory that Smith must have perused some message boards, or got extremely excited when talking about Kejon Barner. I also think that he should have mentioned Beason's injury in reference to A.J. Klein as well. Still, I enjoyed reading the piece, as it is a reaffirmation of many of our positive perspectives on our draft.
**He has since fixed his errors about Goodson and our number of draft picks next year.
Lotulelei is a tremendous nose tackle prospect who had the size and power to clog up the middle of the offensive line to help stop the run and create opportunities for the rest of the line...Lotulelei should walk into camp and be the starting nose guard as a 1-tech. This is a great pick, a great, fit, and a potential game changer for the Panthers defense for all of the benefits he brings to the table.
With Short and Lotulelei, the Panthers have options. They can line them up as a 1 and 3-technique respectively, use two 2-techniques that gives them the ability to be more unpredictable in how they attack and makes it so either player can do any role on any given snap...it gives them a good setup to stop the run and gives Kuechly more free range to fly around and make plays behind them...it creates more favorable matchups for their ends...Short will have to compete with Dwan Edwards and Sione Fua for playing time, but he has the talent to win that competition.
Like Ziggy Ansah, Kugbila was born in Ghana and his family moved to the United States when he was 10 years old after winning a Visa lottery...Kubigla brings a great combination of size, strength, and agility to develop into a starter at the next level.
Although Kubigla may start out as depth for a year to adjust to the level of competition and get down the offense, the Panthers would not be upset if he challenged journeyman Geoff Hangartner for the right guard spot.
In the fifth round, the Panthers added Iowa State inside linebacker A.J. Klein...His skills suggest he can play both spots as he size and strength with the ability to take on and shed blocks but plays quicker than he times because of his instincts and ability to diagnose plays. Klein is a smart, blue collar linebacker that was a captain for Iowa State...
With their final pick of the draft, the Panthers took Kenjon Barner, running back from Oregon in the sixth round. There are a couple things at work here. First, it is a good idea to take a running back every year somewhere in the draft because the position tends to have an impact instantly and show what they can do right off the bat. They also lost Mike Goodson to free agency to the Jets. The other aspect of this move is that Barner can contribute in the slot as a receiver...
Regardless of where he ends up, Barner gives them an explosive speed threat with short area quickness that can make an impact out of the backfield, as a receiver whether out of the backfield or in the slot, and on special teams. With the duo of Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, the earliest impact Barner can make will be as a specialist in certain spots, whether as a returner, third down back or as a receiver if they choose to go that route.
So much was made of Tavon Austin and deservedly so, but Barner has that type of versatility and speed and comes at a fraction of the price in the sixth round, so while Barner is unlikely to be a franchise player, he is someone who can make an impact and be a nice weapon in the NFL. This has the potential to be a steal and no one would have blinked if he went in round four.
I have no idea if it was the heart issue scare that turned out to be a temporary issue or what, but Lotulelei warranted a top five pick based on his talent and what he did for Utah. He was a game changer and impact player and was the best defensive tackle in this draft class for my money. He should instantly make Kuechly and those defensive ends better.
Following that up with another player I liked in Kawann Short made the Lotulelei pick even better for me...Short and Lotulelei could potentially wreak havoc inside.
Kubigla and Klein may not see much game action this year but both are guys who could potentially contribute as starters down the road...The Panthers needed depth at both positions and now they have it as well as guys who can develop into more. These two picks might be frustrating from the fans point of view because they may not see much of them in their first year, but they could pay off down the road.
I really liked Kenjon Barner throughout the draft process. I thought he was little misunderstood because of the design of the Oregon offense and many painted him as a guy who bounced everything outside when he was actually supposed to bounce outside. He is certainly not a guy who moves the pile up the middle but he was willing to go there when needed. I think the Barner pick is as good as the offensive system is creative. If they grab Barner and just use him as a running back, they could be disappointed with the results. If they look at Barner as a potential player used as a back, receiver, and returner, he could be a nice weapon and a play maker.