Carolina Panthers 2011 NFL Draft Review

1:43 PM, May 2, 2011   |    comments
Cam Newton: Courtesy Getty Images
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(Sports Network) -

1 - Cam Newton, QB, Auburn (6-5, 248); 3- Terrell McClain, DT, South Florida (6-2, 297); 3 - Sione Fua, DT, Stanford (6-1, 308); 4 - Brandon Hogan, CB, West Virginia (5-10, 192); 5 - Kealoha Pilares, WR, Hawaii (5-10, 199); 6 - Lawrence Wilson, OLB, Connecticut (6-1, 229); 6 - Zack Williams, C, Washington State (6-3, 309); 7 - Lee Ziemba, OT, Auburn (6-6, 317)

Top Picks Analysis: With a rocket and accurate arm, prototype size and an uncanny ability to elude pressure and make plays with his legs, there's no denying that No. 1 overall pick Newton has the physical qualities to become a franchise quarterback. Though there are some well-publicized off-field concerns regarding the reigning Heisman Trophy recipient, his biggest obstacle to stardom is a lack of experience and a foreignness to a pro-style offense. Having squandered their second-round choice to trade up for former Walter Payton Award honoree Armanti Edwards last year, the Panthers used their next two picks to help fortify a barren scenario at defensive tackle. The jury's out as to whether they succeeded, however. McClain has ability but had an inconsistent career at South Florida, while Fua is merely a try-hard type who can fill gaps but offers little playmaking potential.

Best Value Pick: Wilson is undersized but is one of the better coverage linebackers in this draft. If he can add some bulk, the Panthers may have a nice sleeper on their hands.

We Question Why: A team that absolutely needed to put together a strong draft took so many chances. Fourth-round pick Hogan is a noted character risk and tore his ACL in December, Fua may have been available a couple rounds later and even Newton's far from a sure thing.

Summary: Newton gives Carolina fans something to get excited out, but the rest of the Panthers' first draft for new head coach Ron Rivera is littered with either marginal prospects or guys with question marks. The success of this class will ultimately be determined by whether or not Newton's remarkable gifts can translate into victories.

FINAL GRADE: C-

 

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