06 Picks should out-shine 05 counterparts

After a sub-par draft in 2005, it appears the Panthers will get some production out of this year's rookie class. As it stands right now, it appears at least five of the Panthers' eight draft picks have a very good shot to make the 53-man roster that will be finalized next Saturday.

Running back DeAngelo Williams, cornerback Richard Marshall and outside linebacker James Anderson, the team's first three draft picks, are pretty much sure things. Williams will back up DeShaun Foster and return kickoffs. Marshall seems to have won a job on the nickel defense as the third corner and Anderson will see action in dime defenses and on special teams.

Nate Salley, a fourth-round pick from Ohio State, will almost certainly make the club as a backup safety, as will seventh-rounder Will Montgomery, a center from Virginia Tech, whom offensive coordinator Dan Henning said of earlier this summer, "If we knew he was this good, we would have (drafted) him sooner."

The verdict is still out on fifth-round pick Jeff King from Virginia Tech, who has been fairly obscure in training camp, and defensive end Stanley McClover, a seventh-round selection from Auburn who definitely has the tools to make it at this level but may have trouble finding a home here because of the team's overall depth on the defensive line.

The big surprise might be third-round pick Rashad Butler, an offensive tackle from Miami who is anything but a sure thing at this point.

Butler is a project, and he needs to get into the weight room and add lower body strength before the team thinks of putting him on the field to protect Jake Delhomme.

If the Panthers cut Butler it will mark the second straight season a first-day draft pick has failed to make the opening-day roster. A year ago, defensive tackle Atiyyah Ellison was the highest drafted NFL player (89th overall) to get cut.

Interestingly enough, Butler was drafted 89th overall this year.

In an ideal world, the Panthers would probably like to cut Butler and sign him to the practice squad, but if they do they'll run the risk of losing him to another team.

As it stands now, Todd Fordham is the team's third offensive tackle behind starters Jordan Gross and Travelle Wharton.

Panther Insider Top Stories