Panther Draft Overview and Analysis

Perhaps the most intriguing pick of the Panthers' 2005 NFL draft is the one they didn't make.<br><br> Despite losing stud Muhsin Muhammad in the offseason, the Panthers did not select a wide receiver with any of their 10 draft picks over the weekend to replace him.<br><br> Instead, the Panthers spent three picks on offensive linemen, two on defensive linemen, two on linebackers, and one each on a running back, quarterback and safety.

It was anticipated that wide receiver would be one of the team's top needs entering the NFL draft and the team would address that need with one of their top three picks.

But they didn't.

"We would have like to have gotten a receiver at some point in the draft but we didn't," Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said. "But we also didn't feel like it was a critical need. We have Steve Smith and Keary Colbert and Ricky Proehl and Drew Carter, who has got a year in the system."

Not critical?

So you mean to tell us that the Panthers would feel comfortable with Proehl starting if Smith or Colbert go down? Now Proehl is a nice role player, but a starter at age 37? No.

And as for Carter, he has already had three ACL tears in his knees, including one last year at this time.

Hurney was asked after the draft if he's content with that group of players or if the team plans to bring in some veteran help.

He said the team will sign some undrafted free agent receivers on Monday, and left the door as to the possibility of signing some more experienced free agent receivers.

"That is a decision we will make in the next couple of days going into minicamp, but first we'll what happens after the draft," Hurney said.

So don't be surprised if the Panthers at least sign a couple mid-level free agent wide receivers with some NFL experience.

Charles Lee of Tampa Bay is one option. The team talked to his agent prior to the draft and said if they didn't take a receiver in the draft they may contact him afterward.


The Panthers had a pretty good draft overall, taking a quality player with the first pick in Thomas Davis, a versatile defensive player who can play outside linebacker or safety, both of which happen to be needs for the Panthers.

Eric Shelton could turn out to be a great second-round pick if Stephen Davis is slow to return from a knee injury.

Shelton is a power runner, built in the same mold as Davis.

Carolina added some depth to its offensive line by adding three players, including Evan Mathis from Alabama. Atiyyah Ellison could provide some young depth at defensive tackle.

Carolina made an intriguing pick in the fourth round, selecting quarterback Stefan LeFors from Louisville.

"I think we had the same approach for the last few years," Panthers GM Marty Hurney said. "We have a saying that we look for smart, tough guys.

"Everybody's different but we have a philosophy of what we're looking for and certain traits that we are looking for and we try to get that as much as we can. We stress character as much as any team in the league and we stress a guy being responsible and dependable."

The Panthers get to "open their presents" at rookie minicamp this weekend.

BEST PICK: Given the Panthers emphasis on running the football, Eric Shelton could be a huge addition for the Panthers. He has a similar style to Stephen Davis. With Davis coming off a knee operation and not likely to do much in training camp, Shelton could play an important role this year alongside DeShaun Foster.

COULD SURPRISE: One player the Panthers really had rated high but who didn't go off the board until the fifth round was offensive lineman Geoff Hangartner. He can play both guard and center and seems to fit everything Mike Maser likes in an offensive lineman.

A closer look at the Panthers' picks:

Round 1/14 -- Thomas Davis, OLB/S, 6-0, 231, Georgia
The Panthers passed on OLB Derrick Johnson and OT Alex Barron to take Davis at No. 14. But head coach John Fox isn't saying yet whether Davis will play outside linebacker or one of the safety positions.

Round 2/54 -- Eric Shelton, RB, 6-1, 246, Louisville
Could be the eventual replacement for Stephen Davis, who could take awhile to come back from microfracture surgery. If Davis can't make it back, Shelton could end up splitting carries with DeShaun Foster.

Round 3/79 -- Even Mathis, OG/C, 6-5, 304, Alabama
It's not a surprise the Panthers got a guy who can play center. He could be the guy who eventually replaces starting center Jeff Mitchell, who was implicated in the recent steroid scandal.

Round 3/89 -- Atiyyah Ellison, DT, 6-3, 303, Missouri
The Panthers view him as a possible long-term replacement for Brentson Buckner, who the team feels only has one or two years left in him. At any rate, they hope Ellison can figure in the D-line rotation.

Round 4/121 -- Stefan Lefors, QB, 5-11, 201, Louisville
Could come in and compete for the backup job behind Jake Delhomme, giving the team a pair of Cajuns.

Round 5/149 -- Adam Seward, LB, 6-0, 250, UNLV
Could provide some depth at inside linebacker behind Pro Bowler Dan Morgan.

Round 5/169 -- Geoff Hangartner, C-G, 6-5, 301 Texas A&M
Big strong guy who has the talent to be a force at guard in the NFL.

Round 5/171 -- Ben Emanuel, FS, 6-1, 200, UCLA
Emanuel is the latest Bruin to join UCLA East. He is actually in a good spot, able to compete with Colin Branch, a player who struggled in his first year as a starter in 2004.

Round 6/189 -- Jovan Haye, DE, 6-2, 284 Vanderbilt
He doesn't have great size, but is bulky and could be a force at defensive end if he gets in the rotation. He's extremely smart.

Round 6/207 -- Joe Berger, G-C, 6-5, 303 Michigan Tech
The Panthers took a flier on this Division II prospect, hoping he catches on. He was twice named the top lineman in his conference, but hasn't faced top competition.

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