Round 1, Pick No. 9
Re-draft Pick: Luke Kuechly, LB (Boston College)
The Carolina Panthers hit the jackpot with Luke Kuechly and a strong case could be made that he was the second best player drafted in the first round, behind only Indianapolis Colts’ Andrew Luck. In only three seasons in the NFL, he has won the Defensive Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, been selected to two Pro Bowls and led the league in tackles twice.
In three seasons manning the middle linebacker position for this defense he has not missed a game and totaled 473 tackles, six sacks, four fumble recoveries and seven interceptions. At only 24 years of age he has quickly become one of the best at the linebacker position and there is absolutely no reason for the team to change their pick here.
The Panthers picked up Kuechly’s fifth-year option this past weekend and keep him under contract through the 2016 season.
Round 2, Pick No. 8
Original Pick: Amini Silatolu, OG (Midwestern State)
In the second round the team selected offensive guard Amini Silatolu, who had a promising start to his career by starting 15 games at left guard his rookie season. However the past two seasons have not gone as smoothly with him starting only a combined 10 games.
Unfortunately for the Panthers they missed out on Cordy Glenn, who played offensive guard at the University of Georgia, but has made a smooth transition to left tackle for the Buffalo Bills. In three seasons at left tackle for the Bills, Pro Football Focus has given him an overall rating of +29.9. Glenn could have stepped in immediately at guard for the Panthers and then slid over to left tackle last season.
Round 3, Pick No. 9
Original Pick: traded pick to Chicago for TE Greg Olsen
Re-draft Pick: trade pick to Chicago for TE Greg Olsen
The Panthers did not have a pick in the third round because they traded it to the Chicago Bears for tight end Greg Olsen. This was another move that worked out better than anyone could have expected as Olsen has become a key contributor to this offense.
In four seasons with the Panthers, he has averaged 67.8 receptions, 801.8 yards, 5.5 touchdowns per season. This past season was his best yet with 84 receptions, 1,008 receiving yards and six touchdowns and was selected to his first Pro Bowl. Olsen has become an important part of this team and the Panthers extended his contract this offseason through the 2018 season.
Round 4, Pick No. 8
Re-draft Pick: Frank Alexander, DE (Oklahoma)
This was the first of back to back picks in the fourth round and the team selected defensive end Frank Alexander out of Oklahoma. While he missed 10 games this year due to a suspension from two failed drug tests, this was the best pick the team could have made at this point.
Alexander has shown enough that makes me believe he could be at the very least be a key contributor in a rotation at defensive end. In his first two seasons in the league, he had 33 tackles and 3.5 sacks in limited time. As the Panthers try to find a player to help replace the production lost by Greg Hardy, this could be Alexander’s breakout season.
Round 4, Pick No. 9
Original Pick: Joe Adams, WR (Arkansas)
The Panthers used their next pick on wide receiver Joe Adams out of Arkansas but his time in Carolina was short lived. He only played one season for the team and in nine games had one reception for seven yards. He also had 11 punt returns and nine kickoff returns his rookie season. He was waived prior to the 2013 season.
A player who would have provided more value is Nigel Bradham out of Florida State. It has been a little bit of a slow process for Bradham but he had a breakout season last year with the Buffalo Bills with 104 total tackles, 2.5 sacks and one interception. At 6’2” and 241 pounds, Bradham would be a nice option to plug into the starting lineup next to Kuechly and Thomas Davis.
Round 5, Pick No. 8
Original Pick: Josh Norman, CB (Coastal Carolina)
Re-draft Pick: Josh Norman, CB (Coastal Carolina)
It took until his third season but cornerback Josh Norman showed just how good he could be last year. After being the Panthers fifth round pick, Norman had an up and down career through the first two seasons. He showed flashes of being a good cornerback but was never consistent.
Last season, specifically the last half of the year Norman played like a shutdown corner and was one of the reasons for the team’s improved pass defense. According to Pro Football Focus, Norman gave up only one touchdown all season which came in Week 15 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Based on how he finished the year, the expectations are high for Norman entering 2015.
Round 6, Pick No. 37
Re-draft Pick: Brad Nortman, P (Wisconsin)
The Panthers used their only compensatory pick of the 2012 NFL Draft on punter Brad Nortman, who has been the team’s starting punter ever since. He has actually been one of the better punters over the past three seasons with a career average of 45.2 yards per punt and a net average of 39.6 yards.
A player like Nortman sometimes goes unappreciated but can have a major impact on a game. A player that can average almost 40 yards per punt can change field possession with one kick.
Round 7, Pick No. 9
Re-draft Pick: Tashaun Gipson, FS (Wyoming)
The Panthers used their last pick in the 2012 NFL Draft on free safety D.J. Campbell out of the University of California. He actually played a lot his rookie season with the Panthers, starting four of the last five games of the 2012 season. However a leg injury ended his tenure with the Panthers who waived him at the start of the 2013 season.
Looking at the free safety position, current Cleveland Brown Tashaun Gipson would have been the better pick. Gipson signed with the Browns in 2012 after going undrafted and was the starting free safety by 2013. In three years he has gained the reputation as a ball hawk with 12 interceptions in only 37 career games. Last year, he earned his first Pro Bowl appearance even though he missed the final five games due to a knee injury.
Overall, this was a great draft for the Carolina Panthers and laid the ground work for this team's consecutive NFC South division titles. The team had eight draft picks and gained four starters (if Greg Olsen is included) and two more role players (Frank Alexander and Amini Silatolu).