Panthers Go Deep

The Carolina Panthers had their biggest draft weekend, numbers-wise, since 1996, choosing 9 players over the two-day, 7 round draft.

Their first pick, the second overall, was North Carolina junior defensive end Julius Peppers. The team expects him to become the pass-rushing defensive lineman they've never had.

In the second round, they went with DeShaun Foster, the third leading rusher in UCLA history with 3,194 yards. He'll fill a gap in the lack of depth the Panthers currently have at the running back spot. His downside is a case of fumblitis that Panther fans hope won't remind them of Tshimanga Biakabutuka.

In the third round, they dropped 6 spots in a deal with Cincinnati that also gave Carolina a 5th round pick, and then shored up the linebacking corps by selecting Georgia linebacker Will Witherspoon. He's considered a durable player who quickly reacts to the play and closes sharply on the ball. He is quick and decisive closing on the ball, showing the speed to pursue the outside runners. At Georgia, he was very well-liked and a colorful character who is a high effort player whose motor never quits.

Their fourth round selection was one of two aimed at upgrading the thin cornerback they took Dante Wesley from Arkansas-Pine Bluff. He shows good decision-making skills, and is a quick player. He started his collegiate career as a receiver at Arkansas before transfering to Pine Bluff.

Their first pick in the fifth round was Stanford quarterback Randy Fasani. The Panthers are looking for some depth at this spot in the form of a third quarterback behind Chris Weinke and Rodney Peete. He started 15 games for the Cardinal and is considered to be very poised in the pocket.

The second pick in the 5th round (from Cincinnati) was fullback Kyle Johnson from Syracuse. This fills a need for the club. Johnson was the team captain for the Orangemen, and is a powerful runner.

Tight end Keith Heinrich from Sam Houston State was the 6th round pick. I see this as a pick of just the best player available at this point, as tight end has traditionally been one of the Panthers deepest positions. He has decent speed for a tight end, and is a good athlete, as he played basketball also. (Maybe we can hook Heinrich and Peppers up in a little one-on-one match-up.)

The Panthers wrapped up the draft with a pair of 7th round picks, getting tackle Pete Campion from North Dakota State and cornerback Brad Franklin from Louisiana-Lafayette.

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