Now that the 2012 NFL Draft is over, we're profiling each team's draft. Who were the steals? Who were the reaches? We continue with the Carolina Panthers.
When the Carolina Panthers had the first pick in the 2011 draft, they added pizazz and excitement in quarterback Cam Newton. They went the nearly the complete opposite of exciting in the 2012 NFL Draft. The team's first pick was linebacker Luke Kuechly. Amazingly clean as a prospect on and off the field, he'll help give the team stability at linebacker. Second-round pick Amini Silatolu isn't quite as sure of a thing as Kuechly, but he's a grinder.
Like most years, the Panthers traded a pick in the next year's draft to get back into a middling round. This draft it was a third-round pick in 2013 for a a fourth-round pick that was used on defensive end Frank Alexander. Carolina has hit on peculiar end choices in the past, but it was a surprise to see them go with an end. Arguably the biggest need for Carolina this draft was a defensive tackle and they didn't take one. There were a handful of solid defensive tackles available in the fourth round, but the Panthers went with Alexander and playmaking wide receiver Joe Adams.
The Panthers' other big need going into the draft was cornerback, and they finally added one in the fifth round in Coastal Carolina's Josh Norman. He's a good player with nice size, but any player taken at that point is a crapshoot. Carolina finished out its draft with punter Brad Nortman and safety D.J. Campbell.
Questionable pick: Alexander, Round 4, pick 103
As mentioned, the Panthers chose to pass on a defensive tackle. Alexander could be good for Carolina playing end or a hybrid linebacker, but he's a little buried on the depth chart. It's hard to envision him beating out Charles Johnson, Greg Hardy and primary backup Antwan Applewhite.
Late-round steal: WR Joe Adams, Round 4, pick 104
Carolina followed up their questionable pick with arguably the best of their draft. Adams should immediately be plugged in as the team's punt returner and an excellent option playing out of the slot. The Panthers are suddenly deep at wide receiver. Don't be surprised to see them go with a lot of four wide receivers sets this season and Adams making big plays.