Mel Kiper Audits the NFC South


A fellow blogger was kind enough to share some excerpts from Kiper's latest series: Division by Division Team Audits. It's Insider paid content so as always I'm only going share a few pieces. This is from the NFC South edition.

When it comes to the Panthers Kiper basically follows up with some themes he had pre-draft. First he admits that 'early in the process' he thought the Panthers would go with a DT like Fairley or Dareus. By 'early' I guess he means until about two weeks before the draft.  Picture link: via

He also keeps his Jimmy Clausen love kindled with the following:

Questions that remain: This draft comes down to Newton. With a new coach in the fold, the Panthers went out and got a new potential face of the franchise in Newton. If it all comes together for him, you will be looking at a Ben Roethlisberger-type performer. But that remains a big if. And will Newton start? What if Jimmy Clausen starts the season and plays well? The Panthers will have to be both patient and market-savvy concerning their QB situation.

What if Clausen starts and plays well? In the preseason I assume...otherwise its a moot question. I would say he would have to look real good in the preseason. I'm not saying its not possible but it just does not seem likely at this point, for any of the young QBs including Newton & Pike. 

Bonus Audit Evaluation: (after the jump)

Next year's help now: Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson
A pick for right now, as every young QB needs a reliable tight end. Allen could be the best one in the 2012 class.

So how many 'Panthers need a 1st round TE' picks have we heard the last 5 to 8 years? A WR seems a more obvious pick to me but then again, I'm not Mel Kiper. Like most though he finishes by agreeing that this draft will be defined by Cam Newton and he career. 

Kiper essentially says the same thing about the Falcons and Saints, both of which paid steep prices to move up in the draft and get offensive players (WR Julio Jones & RB Mark Ingram). Only the Bucs seemed to make shrewd moves in Kiper's book, taking the DE sliders in Claiborne and Bowers. Sure they seem like 'value' picks at the moment but lets see them on the field before we proclaim them bookend PRers.

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