Draft Recap: Panthers Fill Holes Emphatically

The Panthers rejuvenated their fan base by adding a terrific collection of talent via the NFL Draft. Carolina addressed all of its needs -- most of them at least twice -- and restored some much needed depth and competition.

The Panthers did not make their first selection until the second-round, but the pick generated first-round buzz. Carolina capitalized on Jimmy Clausen's free fall and picked up a franchise quarterback at No. 48.

GM Marty Hurney tried to trade up for Clausen but to no avail. In the end, it could not have worked out better.

"Like they say, sometimes the best deal is the one you don't make," Hurney said. "We were very fortunate he was there."

But, as the Panthers learned during Jake Delhomme's demise, a QB's ceiling is capped by the players around him. So in order to help Clausen realize his potential, the Panthers provided him a handful of playmakers to grow with.

It started in the third round with the selection of LSU's Brandon LaFell. The 6-foot-2 receiver led the Tigers with 11 touchdown catches last season.

"I'm a big, physical receiver," he said. "I can run down the field, I can go across the middle and I'm a great downfield blocker."

Next, the Panthers made a trade to get back into the third round and select Appalachian State QB Armanti Edwards. The move cost Carolina a second-round pick in 2011, but Hurney felt Edwards was too good to pass up.

Edwards will move to receiver and will also return kicks.

"Right now, I'm a receiver," Edwards said. "Wherever else they need me, I'm going to work hard at it."

The Panthers weren't done with the quarterback and receiver positions. The team picked up Baylor WR David Gettis and Cincinnati QB Tony Pike in the sixth round. Gettis is a raw athlete with size similar to San Diego's Vincent Jackson, yet he has yet to make his productivity match his potential. Pike, on the other hand, was very productive at the college level and seems a shoe-in to be Carolina's No. 3 QB.

In between the selections of Edwards and Gettis, Carolina turned its attention to the defense. The team grabbed South Carolina LB Eric Norwood in the fourth round and Ole Miss DE Greg Hardy in the sixth round. Those two men combined for more than 55 sacks during their college careers, which will help a defense that finished in the bottom-10 in sacks last season and then lost franchise sacks leader Julius Peppers.

The Panthers stayed on the defensive theme late in the draft, using three of their final four picks on cornerbacks. Jordan Pugh (sixth round, Texas A&M), R.J. Stanford (seventh round, Utah) and Robert McClain (seventh round, Connecticut) will fight for playing time in the sub packages and on special teams. Either way, Carolina's depth and competition will be vasty improved from last season.

How do Panthers fans feel about the draft? Find out inside the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports.

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