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1. (1) QB Cam Newton, Auburn: This is an excellent pick for the Panthers in my opinion. I’m higher on Newton than a lot of others are, but I think he can become a star in this league. He will need some time, and I wouldn’t start him this season if I were Ron Rivera, but he gives the Panthers a true franchise quarterback after whiffing on Clausen last season.
3. (65) DT Terrell McClain, South Florida: McClain is an underrated player who fills a huge need for the Panthers. He should challenge for a starting spot right away.
3. (97) NT Sione Fua, Stanford: Another solid pick, as Fua could also challenge for the other starting defensive tackle spot next to McClain.
4. (98) CB Brandon Hogan, West Virginia: Hogan is a nice pickup here, as he provides depth at the cornerback position. I do think there were a few more talented corners available, but solid pick regardless.
5. (132) WR Kealoha Pilares, Hawaii: Carolina needs some depth at wide receiver, but this is a reach. I did not expect Pilares to be drafted, and there were several better prospects available at this point.
6. (166) LB Lawrence Wilson, Connecticut: This is an excellent pick here, as I had Wilson much higher on my board. He provides nice depth and could develop into a starter down the road.
7. (203) OG Zach Williams, Washington State: The Panthers needed the depth, but I thought Williams would go undrafted.
7. (244) OT Lee Ziemba, Auburn: An excellent value pick, as I had Ziemba as a fourth-rounder. He will provide nice depth on the offensive line.
Final Team Grade: C+
I personally am a fan of Carolina for taking Newton first overall because I think he has the potential to develop into a star. I don’t see him helping out much in his rookie season, but he has a lot of potential.
Otherwise, I thought the Panthers did a good job of addressing their defensive line needs in the third and fourth rounds. This wasn’t a spectacular draft by any stretch of the imagination, but they got solid players who addressed their biggest needs.