Re-Drafting the Panthers' 2011 Draft Class

Hindsight is always 20/20 and if the Carolina Panthers knew before the 2011 NFL Draft what they know today, how much would their draft have changed?

The short answer is a lot, considering there is only one player from this class still on the roster. For this re-draft of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Panthers can select any player who was still on the board at the time of their pick. So with the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft the Carolina Panthers select:


Round 1, Pick No. 1

Original Pick: Cam Newton, QB (Auburn)

Re-draft pick: Cam Newton, QB (Auburn)

This is the one pick that would not change as Cam Newton has been as good, if not better, than advertised. He didn’t waste any time making an impact in the NFL and was named the Offensive Rookie of the Year that season.

Over his four seasons with the Panthers he has thrown for 14.426 yards, 82 passing touchdowns and 54 interceptions with a completion percentage of 59.5%. The reason he is so dynamic though is his ability to make plays on the ground running for over 2,500 yards and scoring 33 rushing touchdowns.

Even though he had a tumultuous season this past year riddled with injuries, he still was able to help the Panthers win their first playoff game since 2005. He will be entering his final year of his contract in 2015 but hopefully the two sides can work out an extension before Newton becomes a free agent.


Round 3, Pick No. 1

Original Pick: Terrell McClain, DT (South Florida)

Re-draft Pick: Kenrick Ellis, DT (Hampton)

The Panthers had two picks in the third round after none in the second and used both on defensive tackles. The first pick went to Terrell McClain, a defensive tackle out of South Florida. However, his time with the Panthers was short lived as he was released in September of his second season. During his rookie season with the Panthers he started 12 games but only had 19 tackles. McClain has bounced around the NFL the past few years and played with the Dallas Cowboys in 2014.

If the Panthers were looking for a defensive tackle, the player they should have grabbed is current New York Jet Kenrick Ellis. The Jets selected the tackle out of Hampton University in the third round with the 30th pick. Ellis has not started much but has been a rotational-type player with Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson.


Round 3, Pick 33

Original Pick: Sione Fua, DT (Stanford)

Re-draft Pick: K.J. Wright, LB (Mississippi State)

After the first pick in the third round, the Panthers had to wait until the last pick in the third round to make their next selection. They decided to go with Sione Fua out of Stanford who went on to start 11 games his rookie season but was put on injured reserve before the end of the season with a knee injury. He only started more game as a Carolina Panther before being cut. He has spent time with the Denver Broncos and the Cleveland Browns since he was released by the Panthers.

The addition of K.J. Wright would have made perfect sense for the Panthers, especially with Thomas Davis coming off a season where he only played seven games. He was placed on injured reserve in October of 2010 due to a knee injury. A player like K.J. Wright would have provided the defense an insurance policy at the time if Davis was not able to fully recover. In the end, he did and has put together three excellent years for the Panthers as a leader on the defense.


Round 4, Pick 1

Original Pick: Brandon Hogan, CB (West Virginia)

Re-draft Pick: Julius Thomas, TE (Portland State)

Cornerback Brandon Hogan out of West Virginia University was another player who had a short stint with the Carolina Panthers. He played in only three games for Carolina in his rookie season and was cut halfway through the following season.

At the time of the draft, the Panthers had tight ends Jeremy Shockey and Greg Olsen already on the roster. However, the selection of Thomas would have been strictly developmental considering Thomas had limited college experience and spent more time on the basketball court as a member of the Portland State basketball team. This would have been a great move drafting Thomas as he could have stepped into Shockey’s role in 2012 when he was not re-signed after 2011.


Round 5, Pick 1

Original Pick: Kealoha Pilares, WR (Hawaii)

Re-draft Pick: Richard Sherman, CB (Stanford)

To start the fifth round, the Panthers decided to select wide receiver Kealoha Pilares from the University of Hawaii. He played in 20 games over his first two seasons with the Panthers, primarily as a kick returner. He even returned a kick-off for a touchdown in his rookie season. However, he was placed on injured reserves before the 2013 season and was released prior to this past season.

If the Panthers were looking to get a cornerback out of this draft, the player they should have targeted was Stanford’s Richard Sherman. The former wide receiver turned cornerback has gone on to be one of the premiere shutdown cornerbacks in the NFL as a member of the Seattle Seahawks.


Round 6, Pick 1

Original Pick: Lawrence Wilson, LB (Connecticut)

Re-draft Pick: Colin Jones, S (TCU)

In Round 6, the Panthers decided to go linebacker with the selection of Lawrence Wilson out of the University of Connecticut. Unfortunately for Wilson he did not make it through his rookie season with the Panthers. He started the year on the team’s practice squad but was released in November of that year after being cited for speeding and marijuana possession.

The player that would have been a better fit is one that they traded for before the 2012 season, Colin Jones. The safety out of TCU was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers but soon found himself in Carolina. Jones saw his most extensive playing time this past season as the team’s nickelback after injuries to Bene Benwikere and the release of Charles Godfrey.


Round 6, Pick 38

Original Pick: Zachary Williams, C (Washington State)

Re-draft Pick: Derek Newton, OT (Arkansas State University)

For the second time in this draft, the Panthers start and close out a round with the selection of center Zach Williams out of Washington State. At the time, the Panthers already had Ryan Kalil but were in the market for a backup center. Williams only played in one game in his two season with the Panthers and currently is playing in the Arena Football League.

If the Panthers were looking for help on the offensive line, the selection of Derek Newton would have paid much bigger dividends. Newton is currently a free agent after starting three seasons for the Houston Texans at right tackle. He is expected to be one of the more sought after players at the position this offseason.


Round 7, Pick 41

Original Pick: Lee Ziemba, OT (Auburn)

Re-draft Pick: Doug Baldwin, WR (Stanford)

With their final pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Panthers selected offensive tackle Lee Ziemba out of Auburn. He played in six games for the Panthers during his rookie season however he was released before the 2012 season and has not played since.

With the Panthers getting their offensive tackle in the sixth, they decide to go with wide receiver Doug Baldwin out of Stanford with their final selection. Baldwin went undrafted in 2011 before signing with the Seattle Seahawks. He has been the team’s number one wide receiver for a majority of the past two seasons and has been a reliable pass catcher for Russell Wilson.

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