2008 NFL Draft: Carolina Panthers

Matthew GilmartinSenior Analyst IJuly 9, 2008

Yes, I know.  The NFL Draft was back in April and now it's mid-July.  I'm really late.  But I had this in my old blog, so I figured I'd bring it here and let everyone read it.

Carolina Panthers head coach John Fox and general manager Marty Hurney's jobs are in grave danger.  They're in such hot water that one more unsuccessful season will cost them their jobs.  With that in mind, Fox and Hurney needed to fill several gaping holes on both sides of the ball.  Just a few positions of need were running back, the offensive line, and defensive end as well as the secondary.  Fox and Hurney filled these gaps, and more. 

1st round, No.13 overall:

Jonathan Stewart / HB / Oregon

At 5'11" and 230 pounds, he's a big, powerful bruiser with 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash. He seems dedicated to the Panthers. Carolina is expecting great things from Stewart. In 516 career collegiate runs, he gained 2891 yards with a five yard per carry average while scoring 27 touchdowns. However, the most notable stat is his fumble count - zero.

1st round, No.19 overall:

Jeff Otah / OT / Pittsburgh

Otah has always been known as, to use a term from Madden, a "crushing run blocker." His size has to be a reason for that. He's 6'6" and weighs 340 lbs. Otah's head coach in college, Dave Wannstedt, said of Otah, "He's the best blocker I've ever coached."  He better be. Carolina traded next year's 1st-round draft pick as well as a second and a fourth rounder for the selection they used to pick him.

3rd round, No.67 overall:

Charles Godfrey / CB / Iowa

Though he played cornerback in college, he's played safety in the past. This is probably where the Panthers will put him. Carolina obviously has high expectations for Godfrey. They had him scrimmaging with the first team defense during minicamp. Steve Smith, who isn't the most complimentary guy, said he was good. When one of the best receivers in the NFL says that about a defensive back, that's saying something.

3rd round, No.74 overall

Dan Connor / LB / Penn State

Connor is the most recent in a line of top-notch linebackers that Penn State program has produced under head coach Joe Paterno. 16 before Connor were First-Team All-Americans. Connor, though, earned the Bednarik Award, which is awarded to the best collegiate defensive player in the country. He was also one of the last two athletes in the running for the Butkus Award, which is given to the top college linebacker in the country. Connor was ranked the top linebacker in the draft out of 119 players at that position by nfldraftscout.com.

There's no question that Stewart, Otah, and Godfrey were excellent choices. Stewart should bolster a backfield that was sorely lacking in effectiveness last year.  Otah ought to strengthen an offensive line that struggled mightily to protect the quarterback or open up holes for utterly ineffective running back DeShaun Foster last year.  Charles Godfrey will help solidify a thin group of defensive backs. 

The decision to draft Connor was also a good one, just not a great one. While Connor is a great player, he mainly seems to provide extra depth at linebacker, a position at which Carolina already had Jon Beason, Thomas Davis, Landon Johnson, and Adam Seward.

Official Grade: B+.