Carolina Panthers 2012 NFL Draft Picks: Grades, Results, and Analysis

Knox Bardeen@knoxbardeenNFC South Lead WriterApril 26, 2012

Carolina Panthers 2012 NFL Draft Picks: Grades, Results, and Analysis

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    The 2012 NFL draft starts on Thursday, April 26 and goes for three days before ending on Saturday, April 28. We’re going to keep up with all the Carolina draft action on this tracker.

    Be sure to check back here frequently for each of the Panthers' scheduled seven picks throughout the weekend. We’ll update you with information about the pick, analysis of the selection, effects on the team and depth chart and keep you up to speed on any breaking news from the war room.

Overview of the Panthers' Draft

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    The Panthers have made seven picks and, barring a trade, are done with the 2012 NFL draft.

    2011 Record: 6-10

    Team Needs: DL, OL, LB, WR

    Picks: Round 1 (9): Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College

    Round 2 (40): Amini Silatolu, OG, Midwestern State

    Round 4 (103): Frank Alexander, DE, Oklahoma

    Round 4 (104): Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas

    Round 5 (143): Josh Norman, CB, Coastal Carolina

    Round 6 (207): Brad Nortman, P, Wisconsin

    Round 7 (216): D.J. Campbell, FS, California

Round 1, Pick 9: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

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    The Carolina Panthers grabbed Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly with the ninth pick in the draft and filling a great need on the front seven.

    Scouting Report

    Kuechly will fit in nicely with linebacker Jon Beason and could instantly start and produce 100 or more tackles for a defense that was decimated by injury last year. Kuechly is a do-anything, never-stop fighter that will impress from Day 1. He can also provide coverage too, if needed.

    The best trait in Kuechly's game is his ability to see where the ball is going. He seems to always be in the right place at the right time, which isn't all coincidence. His film study pays off, and he does a nice job directing traffic and recognizing what the offense is doing.

    Analysis

    This pick, if it works out like the Panthers hope, could turn out to be as good for the defense as Cam Newton's acquisition was for the offense. According to CBS Sports, Kuechly was on the top of the Panthers' draft board and Carolina wanted him the entire time.

    Not interested in pursuing a trade in the first round, the Panthers picked LB Luke Kuechly. The ninth overall pick was the only player in ACC history to lead the league in tackles for three seasons. “He was the top player on our board,” GM Marty Hurney said.

    Grade: A

Round 2, Pick 40: Amini Silatolu, OG, Midwestern State

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    The Carolina Panthers decided to bolster their offensive line with the 40th-overall pick in the draft, taking Midwestern State offensive guard Amini Silatolu.

    Silatolu was a team captain and started 10 games at left tackle. His offense was the most productive unit in Division II in 2011.

    Scouting Report

    Silatolu is a very aggressive lineman that plays angry and at full speed. He's a great athlete that likes to finish blocks and won't stop until the whistle. His balance of power and quickness will do him well in the NFL.

    Analysis

    With the raw skills to develop into a starting lineman, Silatolu will have have to show that he can adjust to the speed and power in the NFL. Expect him to enter the league as a backup and work his way up with time. He will also, likely, move from tackle to guard with Carolina.

    Transitioning from the lower-level play he faced in college into the NFL will be a difficult task, and most of his value lies in his potential. Silatolu won't only have to adjust to better athletes, but also to a new position. He previously mainly lined up at left tackle, but he will be shifted to guard in the NFL.

    Expect Silatolu to begin his career as a backup, earning snaps as the year progresses. Silatolu needs some refinement, but has the potential to be a true impact player.

    Grade: B

Round 4, Pick 103: Frank Alexander, DE, Oklahoma

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    The Carolina Panthers moved up in the fourth round and have two picks back-to-back at No. 103 and 104. With the first of two picks the Panthers took defensive end Frank Alexander from Oklahoma.

    Scouting Report

    Alexander has long arms and can work effectively against the run and gets into the backfield towards the quarterback. He's not as quick off the snap as most scouts would like, however.

    From Sideline Scouting:

    Has good size and upper body strength, plays with good technique and effort; active hands, extends his arms and uses his length to stay clean... Good, but not great, first step and initial quickness with a good repertoire of pass-rush moves, can be disruptive and make plays in the backfield, and gets his hands up in passing lanes when he can't get to the quarterback.

    Analysis

    Alexander will need to continue his high motor and work ethic mentality in the NFL just to maintain backup status. But with his good character, he could benefit from learning behind Charles Johnson.

    Grade: C

Round 4, Pick 104: Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas

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    With their second of two consecutive picks in the fourth round, the Carolina Panthers selected wide receiver and return specialist Joe Adams from Arkansas.

    Scouting Report

    Adams has a lot of potential and upside. He's got an initial quick burst or speed and can explode after the catch. He has great leaping ability, which is important because he's undersized at 5-foot-10-inches.

    From National Football Post:

    An explosive athlete who can go get the football down the field and has some savvy to his game setting up routes. However, is inconsistent catching the football and as a route runner. Nevertheless, does enough well to make a roster and see early playing time inside and outside.

    Analysis

    Adams immediately helps in the return game and can also slide into the slot from Day 1. His run-after-the-catch skills could be fun to watch, and keep him on the field, for as long as he stays healthy. Injuries have been a concern in the past.

    Grade: B+

Round 5, Pick 143: Josh Norman, CB, Coastal Carolina

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    The Carolina Panthers have now taken three defensive players and two on the offensive side of the football. Carolina selected corner Josh Freeman from Coastal Carolina with its fifth-round pick.

    Norman has quick feet, great ball skills, and can close quickly on a receiver if he's beat.

    Scouting Report

    Norman combines great ballhawking skills with soft hands to enhance his coverage skills.

    From National Football Post:

    Demonstrates impressive body control when asked to adjust to the football in coverage and routinely is able to come down with the grab. Exhibits "plus" ball skills and has a knack for coming down with the pick. He's also very physical in pressman as well. Now, he does have a tendency to step into the press and will get caught with all his weight on his front foot, causing him to struggle to regain balance quickly.

    Analysis

    Norman started as a walk on at Coastal Carolina but earned Football Championship Series All-American honors and finished his college career with 13 interceptions. There are some character issues as well as some knocks against his his self worth evaluation. This seems like a all or nothing pick. The skills are there if he allows himself to be coached.

    Grade: B-

Round 6, Pick 207: Brad Nortman, P, Wisconsin

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    The Carolina Panthers added a punter in the sixth round with their sixth pick in the draft, No. 207 overall. Wisconsin's Brad Nortman is now the only punter on Carolina's Roster.

    Nortman was an honorable Mention All-Big Ten selection and ranks third in school history with a 42.1 yards per punt average and fourth on the Wisconsin all-time list with 8,383 career punting yards.

    Since arriving on campus as a true freshman, Nortman was the only punter on the Wisconsin roster.

    Grade: B-

Round 4, Pick 216: D.J. Campbell, FS, California

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    With their final pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers selected free safety D.J. Campbell from California. Campbell went in the 216th-overall slot.

    Campbell started for one year at Cal at safety and has good speed, but lacks good coverage skills and will likely be just a special teams player if he makes the regular-season roster.

    Grade: C-