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NFL Draft 2011: Carolina Panthers' Team Draft History

Tameem HasanContributor IIApril 23, 2011

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 03:  Center Ryan Kalil #67 of the Carolina Panthers leads the offensive line during the game against the New Orleans Saints at Bank of America Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

This article is part of a series that looks at each NFL team’s recent draft history, with the hope of extracting information about the way they think and the players they value. The analysis is limited to the past five drafts in the interest of relevance, and the first three rounds because that’s where most impact players are taken.

This entry will focus on the Carolina Panthers.

 

DRAFT HISTORY

In the past five years, the Panthers have taken the following players in the early rounds. Their positions and the rounds in which they were drafted are listed next to their names.

2006:   DeAngelo Williams, RB (1)

            Richard Marshall, CB (2)

            James Anderson, LB (3)

            Rashad Butler, OT (3)  

2007:   Jon Beason, LB (1)

            Dwayne Jarrett, WR (2)

            Ryan Kalil, C (2)

            Charles Johnson, DE (3)

2008:   Jonathan Stewart, RB (1)

            Jeff Otah, OT (1)

            Charles Godfrey, CB (3)

            Dan Connor, LB (3)

2009:   Everette Brown, DE (2)

            Sherrod Martin, CB (2)

            Corvey Irvin, DT (3)

2010:   Jimmy Clausen, QB (2)

            Brandon LaFell, WR (3)

            Armanti Edwards, WR (3)

 

BREAKDOWN BY POSITION

Here is the number of players the Panthers have drafted for each position:

Cornerback: 3

Linebacker: 3

Wide receiver: 3

Defensive end: 2

Offensive tackle: 2

Running back: 2

Center: 1

Defensive tackle: 1

Quarterback: 1

 

IMPACT

DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart have formed one of the top running back tandems in the league. Richard Marshall is a respectable starting corner. Ryan Kalil and Jeff Otah are stalwarts on the offensive line. Jon Beason is one of the best linebackers in the league, and Dan Connor is a good one as well.

Over this span, the team has finished with mostly mediocre records, but they did attain a 12-4 record and the second seed in 2008.

 

TRENDS

On defense, the Panthers appear to favor the back seven, having taken three players each at linebacker and cornerback. The strategy has paid off, as they have one of the better pass defenses in the league. However, their neglect of the defensive line in the draft and the departure of Julius Peppers in free agency have left a liability up front.

Offensively, Carolina is built around the power running game. They have taken two halfbacks and two offensive linemen, and all four players have turned out to be studs.

That’s not to say that they’ve neglected the passing attack. After the departure of longtime quarterback Jake Delhomme following the 2009 season, the team reacted by drafting replacement Jimmy Clausen and targets Brandon LaFell and Armanti Edwards. Those picks were not the same smashing successes as their counterparts in the run game, but after only one year, the jury’s still out.

Overall, the Panthers should be commended for placing great importance in the draft and stockpiling picks, though they’ve slipped in the last two years, relinquishing both first rounders in trades.

 

2011 OUTLOOK

Despite having a fair amount of talent on the roster, just about everything seemed to go wrong for the Panthers in 2010. The most obvious disappointment was their record, which was the worst in the league at 2-14. John Fox is out, Ron Rivera is in, and they must look to rebuild.

Having the first overall pick in the draft is a good start; missing a second rounder, traded last year to New England, is not. Unfortunately, it’s effectively impossible to trade down from the top spot, so the Panthers will have to make do with what they have.

The biggest decision is whether to give Jimmy Clausen a second chance. He played very poorly in his limited time last year, but his circumstances were next to impossible to succeed in. Reports seem to indicate that the organization has seen enough of Clausen; if so, they’ll take either the physically gifted Cam Newton (Auburn) or the more polished Blaine Gabbert (Missouri) with the first overall pick.

Whoever their QB is will need someone to throw to. The team invested several picks last year at receiver, and while there’s some potential there, they need a legitimate No. 1 receiver to succeed Steve Smith. Unfortunately, if they do go QB in the first, they’ll have to wait until the third to find a target for him. They could roll the dice on one of the many talented wideouts, or they might prefer to wait and develop what they already have.

The other major concern is the defensive line. They have some potential at end in Everette Brown and Charles Johnson, but their DT reserves are bare. They need to find someone to plug in here. Luckily, this draft is stacked at the position, so they could see a quality tackle like Drake Nevis (LSU) fall to them in the third.

The team also has some important players slated to hit free agency (DeAngelo Williams, Richard Marshall), but with only two picks in the first three rounds and greater needs at others positions, they’ll probably wait until the middle rounds to find possible replacements there.

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