Carolina Panthers 2012 NFL Draft Review

Luke Kuechly

The Panthers made several positive strides during the past year and Head Coach Ron Rivera, a former linebacker, was going to keep the arrow pointing up. Boston College’s Luke Kuechly was the first round pick and he will help solidify a linebacker corps that has been riddled by injuries for the past few years. Kuechly’s versatility is welcomed because he is talented and smart enough to be a three down linebacker at any linebacker position. Free agent guard Mike Pollak was signed after starting his career in Indianapolis. He will compete with second round choice Amini Silatolu for the left guard position. Electric Joe Adams will upgrade the special teams’ area with his innate punt return ability. Fifth round pick Josh Norman may have to grow up quickly at right corner because Captain Munnerlyn is a natural nickel corner and Brandon Hogan is coming off a college injury that kept him out of action last fall. Luke Kuechly has the ability to play both on the inside and outside, but it looks like he will man the weakside linebacker spot heading into the fall. He is competitive, instinctive, and intense in his play. A wrap tackler, he is explosive and goes for the strip. He is always around the ball and feels the blockers. A good technique player who hits on the rise, he takes good downfield pursuit angles, is mentally and physically tough, versatile, and is strong versus the inside run. Amini Silatolu will play left guard after playing left tackle in college. He is aggressive and physical in his play and dominated players at the Division II level. He can bend and anchor and is a better than average athlete who has some very interesting tools to develop. However he will need pro physical and mental development in every facet of his game. Frank Alexander will compete for playing time at left defensive end and try to break into the front rotation. He was voted the Big 12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year. Very active with good lateral quickness, he can set the edge of the defense. His long arms and big hands help him control the blocker. He has good instincts to react on the move. Joe Adams is a receiver with explosive punt return ability. He’s a make-you-miss elusive darter with quick feet who averaged 16.9 yards per return and scored four touchdowns in 2011. Adams is an impact player but you must take the good with the bad as he will have inopportune concentration drops as a receiver. He also had a 92-yard run for a touchdown in the Wild Hog formation. Josh Norman jumped out at rookie mini-camp with his size, long arms, and athletic ability. He may be the sleeper of the Panthers’ draft. He is confident and talented, but needs more coverage discipline. He has fringe long speed but can walk up and press or reroute a wide receiver. He is quicker than fast and possesses good ball skills. Brad Nortman is the odds-on favorite to punt this year with his young and lively leg. The former Badger placed 69 punts inside the 20-yard line over his four-year career. Nick Harris was signed in free agency to add competition. DJ Campbell impressed Cal alum Ron Rivera with his strong workout numbers that included a 38” vertical jump, 10-7 broad jump, and a 4.22 short shuttle. He will need to stand out on special teams to make the roster. GRADE: AVERAGE.

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