Grading the Carolina Panthers Draft


This is part of our 32 grades in 32 days series that we’ll be starting here at over the next month. In this series we’ll go in depth taking a pick by pick look at what happened in each team’s draft.

I’m going give each pick two grades one grade will be for the philosophy behind the pick, the other grade will be for the player value.

Pick 1st round: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn

I’ve been behind Cam Newton the player in this whole process. A very good athlete with a rocket arm. A rare combination of size and speed at the Quarterback position that is enticing. He’s also shown to be a winner on the field, doing well in adversity situations on the field. He has said all the right things. And unlike a lot of people I actually applaud and respect the decision he made to throw at the combine in less than ideal situations.

Now for the Panthers this is a difficult call because I think Clausen could eventually mature into something at the QB position in the right situation. Picking Newton here is saying, bascailly that they forefited their second round pick from last year, which is tough to swallow only one year later. On top of that he’s not going to sit behind a veteran Quarterback like he would have in Buffalo behind Fitzpatrick, so it might make it more difficult on his long term success. Also in Buffalo they have a man who is excellent with quarterbacks, a guy who made Tyler Thigpen and Ryan Fitzpatrick look like very quality N.F.L. starters so Ideally I think Buffalo would have been the best place for Cameron Newton.

Philosophy A-. It’s hard to argue with grabbing a player you think can be a franchise Quarterback, it’s just a tough year to do it with grabbing one the year before early.

Player/Value B.   The only players that made sense going first overall, to me were a healthy Da’Quan Bowers or A.J. Green and maybe Marcel Dareus. I like Dareus, but who wants a solid, versatile Defensive linemen with the first overall pick? Cornerbacks don’t go first overall for a good reason. Newton is boom or bust as annoying as that term may be. He needs some refinement and solid coaching, and the Panthers must retool their offense if Steve Smith and DeAngelo Williams leaves. But solid pick overall.

Pick 3rd round: Terrell McClain, DT, USF

McClain is a gap-penetrating DT who could be a good pass rusher in the N.F.L. Immediately when the pick was made I thought for sure the Panthers could be regretting this a few years from now if they decide to move to a 34 because he’s not a great fit.

Philosophy of the pick: A- again. I like the philosophy of the pick because the Panthers need pass rushers and defensive tackles, so getting that two in one combination is very nice. The minus comes from the other part I mentioned that Ron Rivera also like the 34 and McClain won’t be a fit there if they use 34 principles.


Pick 3rd Round comp: Sione Fua, Stanford Cardinals

Fua is the opposite of what McClain is which makes these picks complementary. Fua is a big guy who is a rush stopping demon. Fua also has the ability to play along the line effectively if Ron Rivera ever changes his defense or incorporates 34 base looks.

Philosophy of the pick: A. The Carolina Panthers need defensive tackles. Fua is fine value here and fills a big need. I can get not grabbing a defensive end because you still hope that Everett Brown can develop into a pass rusher, even if he hasn’t shown enough yet. The Panthers can hope adding talented interior linemen will help him improve his game as well.

Pick 4th Round: Brandon Hogan, CB, West Virginia

This is another risk/reward pick as Hogan has plenty of talent, but also many “character concerns”. Hogan is a talented player who is a bit raw and lacks experience but has good upside.

Philosophy: A. You can never have too many corner backs and this is a good time to take on at this point in the draft with how good the depth was in this class.

Player/Value C.  A lot of issues, and there were a lot of good cornerbacks still available and I would have gone in a different direction.

Round 5 pick: Kealhoa Pilares, WR, Hawaii

Pilares is one of Sayre’s favorite underrated prospects along with Alex Green and a few others.  Pilares is a good player with the ball in his hands and plays like a running back after he catches the football. He’ll be able to help Newton throw some underneath passes and rack up the yards after the catch. I’m also always a fan of drafting a WR or TE to grow up and mature with a QB in the same system with the Quarterback. I just think it’s easier to form a bond and is a smart thing to do.


If you grab a young Qb in the draft, make sure to find him some weapons that can develop with him and form a solid rapport.

Player value B+

Pretty good value, but here are some durability concerns and he also has very small hands for a WR which is a bit of a turn of at 8.75 inches.

Round 6 pick: Lawrence Wilson, LB, UCONN

The Panthers have pretty good linebackers right now, but James Anderson is a potential free agent. Lawrence Wilson is a good fit in the 43. Wilson is a reserve guy who could excel on special teams until/if he develops into a starter. Wilson had over 100 tackles in three seperate seasons with in college. Good speed to move sideline from sideline and if the Panthers put the horses around him could be a starter down the road.

Philosophy: B. It’s hard to get on someone here for grabbing a linebacker. I would have considered adding another running back, especially if DeAngelo Williams is going to leave via free agency.

Player value: B+ solid value here. In the 6th round take productive college players and hope that translates or take elite athletes (like Da’rel Scott) and hope they maximize on their innate abilities, and the Panthers took a player with good speed and that was very productive.

Round 6 pick: Zachary Williams, OL, Washington State.

Taking a player to bolster the offensive line here is a smart move.

Philosophy: A.

The Panthers needed to add some depth and talent along their offensive line.

Player value: C. This pick was a bit of a reach in my opinion, but I like the idea.

Round 7 pick: Lee Ziemba, G, Auburn

Lee Ziemba was a guy that I could sneak all the way into the second round, which I thought would be a major reach, but I could have understood him going off the board in the middle of the fourth. Where he did come off the board was late in the 7th round.

Philosophy: A. The Panthers needed to add some depth along the offensive line.

Player/value. A. There weren’t many players with the kind of value Ziemba presented at this juncture in the draft. Ziemba could be a decent starter in the N.F.L. for a few years, which is great value in the late 7th round.

Overall Draft Grade B+.  Good, not great value with most of their picks and found players who can start in their system. Obviously three years from now the most important player.

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