2005 NFL Draft: The Aftermath

Now that day one has come and gone, it's time for the "experts" to sit back and determine which teams were successful in filling important needs and which teams missed the mark. The Panthers came into the 2005 with some obvious glaring needs. Even more needs were determined weeks leading up to the draft, with the allegations of illegal steroid use by some current Panther players. After what seemed like an eternal first day, here's the low down on how the Panthers did and where they go from here.

The Good:

Eric Shelton – The Panthers were looking for a running back that could fill the role that Stephen Davis left while being out for surgery. This 245-pound workhorse is a true north/south runner that can punish defenders all day long, while gaining yards to move the chains. Not only will he help the Panthers continue their game plan of a run first ball control offense, but he will also take the pressure off of Deshaun Foster, whom has become a durability concern over the past two seasons.

Evan Mathis – Going into the draft, there were more glaring holes in the Panthers offensive line than on a Cheesehead's wardrobe. Although the top ranked offensive tackles weren't taken by the Panthers, Mathis, a 6-5 304 pound senior out of the University of Alabama, provides a great addition to the help protect Jake Delhomme and to open up holes for the running backs. Mathis also has the fortunate opportunity of learning from one of the best in the game; recently acquired multi-purpose lineman Matt Wahle. Like Wahle, Mathis is versatile enough to play both offensive guard and right tackle. The Panthers may be looking for Mathis to fill a hole that Bruce Nelson can't fill due to injury and Jeff Mitchell might not be able to fill due to salary cap issues and the recent on-going steroid investigation.

Stefan Lefors – With the recent retirement of backup quarterback Rodney Peete, the Panthers needed to groom a good backup quarterback to support Jake Delhomme. Shelton's team mate from the University of Louisville became available and the Panthers wasted no time in picking up Lefors. Although Lefors doesn't have the arm to throw the ball great distances, he does have incredible accuracy. More importantly, he has that natural leadership ability you look for in a quarterback. There are some other things about Lefors that may have attracted the Panthers to pick him over other quarterbacks still available in the draft. Like starter Jake Delhomme, Lefors is from the state of Louisiana and is also proficient at American Sign Language (both parents are deaf). This left hander will certainly fit into the backup roll nicely in a Panthers uniform.

The Bad:

Atiyyah Ellison – The defensive tackle out of the University of Missouri has all the natural abilities in the world to be a play maker but an inconsistent level of play makes him more of a long term project than an immediate difference maker. Perhaps with a little coaching and some learning from the likes of Kris Jenkins will make this player a threat to be reckoned with in the future.

Adam Seward – The health of the Panthers linebacker corps makes it important to have good backups to fill in at a moment's notice. Although Seward had a productive college football career at UNLV, his lack of size and marginal speed and tackling ability make him more of position filler rather than a late bloomer.

Where are the wide receivers? – okay, so we picked up one off the free agency list? On second thought, I probably should have put this one in the good category. Just because we didn't draft a wide receiver doesn't mean that we won't be in good shape. If Smitty can come back and have a 1300 yard season and Colbert can compliment that with an 800 yard season, surely one would think we would get good production out of Ricky Proehl and Drew Carter. Also, don't forget that we have a legit receiving threat at tight end now in Freddie Jones. All hope is not lost.

The Usual Suspect (s):

Thomas Davis - Like everyone is saying.. is he a safety? Is he a linebacker? If he's a linebacker, what happens to Spoons, Morgan and Fields (assuming he resigns in June). Also, don't forget that we have Brandon Short to back up the linebacker corp. Nothing like depth at a position but why would you have your top draft choice play back up? If they play him at safety, then why did we stock up on the gaggle of safeties in the off-season? Can you say camp fodder? From all indications, Davis is better off at linebacker. Something about a safety that is prone to getting beat on play action just doesn't jive well with me. Of course, eating pizza and beer after 9 pm doesn't jive well with me either but that's what age and wisdom will do to you.

The Rest of the Story:

Geoff Hangartner, C-G, 6-5, 301 – Big lineman out of Texas A&M. I love it! We'll see how he "gets ‘er done".

Ben Emanuel, FS, 6-1, 200 – Great. Another safety (yawn)

Jovan Haye, DE, 6-2, 284 – Ya know they knock this guy's height but as I recall, Morehead isn't exactly a behemoth and he filled in at a pinch.

Joe Berger, G-C, 6-5, 303 – You can always use some more meat on the line. Sorry.. couldn't resist.

Next up: Sizing up each position with our newly acquired Panthers in the mix. Stay tuned.

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