Panthers suffered through a difficult season

Grading the Draft: Carolina Panthers A year after playing in the Super Bowl the Carolina Panthers suffered through a difficult season following injuries to many of their key players.

The roster remains talented and has the type of players coach John Fox likes. Adding a single defensive playmaker could give the Panthers one of the leagues premier defenses. Yet adding another offensive tackle would stabilize the team's running game. Which would Carolina choose?

Georgia safety Thomas Davis was projected by many teams as an outside linebacker in the NFL. Carolina will play the athletic defender at strong safety where he will essentially serve as a fourth linebacker in the box. In pass coverage Davis is surprisingly effective and is far more than a one-dimensional defender. Louisville tailback Eric Shelton is a powerful straight ahead runner cut from the same mold as Stephen Davis. Should Shelton focus on improving as a football player he could be an effective bruising runner for the Panthers. Atiyyah Ellison gives the Panthers an athletic developmental prospect at defensive tackle. The former Missouri player must become more consistent and improve his playing strength if he is to see time in the team's rotation. Louisville signal caller Stefan LeFors is a smart and athletic player with size limitations. Though he lacks the arm strength to ever be a starter, his intangibles suggest he can see spot duty as a long term backup. UNLV linebacker Adam Seward will compete to backup Dan Morgan in the middle. Texas A&M Aggie Geoff Hangartner and Michigan Tech's Joe Berger are both long term developmental projects at offensive tackle, though Hangarten also projects to center. UCLA safety Ben Emmanuel will fight for a roster spot yet must improve his mental awareness and skill in coverage. Vanderbilt defensive end Jovan Haye is raw but talented and may need a season on the practice squad then in Europe before he is ready to contribute.

The franchise chose quality over quantity singings prospects after the draft and came away with a few good players. Either Taylor Stubblefield and Efrem Hill could make the team as the fifth receiver and return specialist. Marcus Lawrence suffered through an injury plagued senior campaign but the physically gifted linebacker was much better then an undrafted free agent and was one of the better post-draft signings in the league. Lorenzo Alexander is a very solid back-up for the next level.

Thomas Davis is the only sure thing the Panthers got out of this draft. With Shelton, Ellison, and all of their second day picks the Panthers looked for potential rather than production. Should they all develop this will be a bumper crop. History tells us that other then Davis only one or two of these players will quickly make an impact for the team.

RD Pick Player Pos School
1 14(14) Thomas Davis S Georgia
2 22(54) Eric Shelton RB Louisville
3 15(79) Evan Mathis OG Alabama
3 25(89) Atiyyah Ellison DT Missouri
4 20(121) Stefan LeFors QB Louisville
5 13(149) Adam Seward MLB UNLV
5 33(169) Geoff Hangartner C Texas A&M
5 35(171) Ben Emanuel S UCLA
6 15(189) Jovan Haye DE Vanderbilt
6 33(207) Joe Berger OG Michigan Tech

UDFA Signings: WR Taylor Stubblefield, WR Effrem Hill, OT Jon Doty, OT Mike Watson, DT Lorenzo Alexander, LB Marcus Lawrence, CB Lornell McPherson

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