The Carolina Panthers opened the fourth round of the 2011 NFL draft by adding a fast, athletic corner to their roster.
West Virginia defensive back Brandon Hogan graded better than a fourth-round pick on many draft boards, but some off-the-field issues caused him to drop to this 98th overall spot.
I see Hogan filling the role of nickel and dime corner for the Panthers. He's got a good nose for the football (although, not great hands) and does well in run support. Yes, he'll break up passes and make tackles.
There are some character concerns, as I alluded to. But, hopefully Hogan will be able to put those issues in the past and contribute to improving Carolina's defensive secondary, which was a weakness heading into this draft.
Hawaii running back-turned-receiver Kealoha Pilares was the Panthers' pick at the top of the fifth round.
Pilares joins a solid core of young receiving talent (Brandon LaFell, David Gettis) in Carolina that will presumably be catching passes from first overall pick Cam Newton.
Pilares could become a starter in this league. He's elusive in the open field and with his speed, he will be difficult to catch once he has the football. Pilares did tear his PCL in the Hawaii Bowl, but as long as he's fully recovered, he'll be an effective addition to the Panthers' passing attack in 2011.
"A lot of people are surprised by how fast I've healed and come back from it," Pilares told Panthers.com after being drafted. "To be picked up by Carolina is a blessing. I'm just looking forward to going out there and competing, showing what I've got."
Carolina had two picks in the sixth round—at the top and bottom—and went with Connecticut linebacker Lawrence Wilson and Washington State offensive lineman Zachary Williams.
Wilson is projected as a special teams player and backup linebacker who could play a role on passing downs.
Williams is expected to be developed as a guard/center. His motor and mean streak will carry him, as his skill set at this level develops.
The Panthers stayed on the offensive line in the seventh and final round, using a compensatory pick on Auburn tackle Lee Ziemba.
Ziemba, of course, was a teammate of Cam Newton on Auburn's national championship team.
The Panthers managed to address their remaining needs on this final day of the 2011 NFL draft. Hogan and Pilares are potentially valuable additions, while the other draft choices project as developmental prospects. Only time will tell what their true value will be.