Unlike drafts before 2011 we again came pretty close to predicting who the Panthers would select with their first pick in the draft. Though we missed big time with our early predictions right before the 2011 it was apparent Cam Newton was the selection. This draft we had it narrowed down to three players: Fletcher Cox, Quinton Coples & Luke Kuechly, pretty much in that order. As it turns out we had the right three, just the wrong order.
I just love writing posts where I basically admit how wrong I was. But I've done worse so its not so bad. You may recall I selected DT Fletcher Cox in the SBN Mock draft. Afterward I wrote a post with my reasoning for passing on certain players still on the board. Here's what I said about Kuechly:
LB Luke Kuechly - I really love this kid and think he is a future star but he is best suited at MLB in a 4-3 and we just lost a similar (but less athletic) back-up in MLB Dan Conner. The fact I'm not sure he would excel at WLB which is where we need help is my primary reservation. MaybeJames Anderson could play WLB and Kuechly the strong side but now your moving another guy (Anderson) who played great at SLB in 2011 to get a rookie on the field. So in summary, though I'm not sold on Thomas Davis returning to form for an entire season I also don't think Kuechly would be the solution either.
Obviously Ron Rivera and Marty Hurney disagree on Kuechly being the solution and I am okay with that. So whether he plays the middle or plays one of the sides Kuechly will be a huge lift to the defense. I find it slightly interesting that the Eagles later picked Kuechly in the mock draft and then in the real draft, the Eagles trade up for Cox and the Panthers pick Kuechly.
I've got references to some James Dator pre-draft 'gut' feeling up next, after the jump...
As it turns out our own James Dator came much closer to getting the pick right with his pre-draft gut feelings:
It wouldn't surprise me for a second if Luke Kuechly is the highest graded defensive player on the Panthers draft board. He has so many skills they value at the linebacker position, is a safe pick, and if he played he would have an immediate impact. That being said, I believe if Fletcher Cox and Kuechly are both on the board at #9 they'll take Cox out of need, looking for a linebacker later in the draft. I think the grades between both players could be that close.
I was thinking the pick was between Cox and Coples with Kuechly a close 3rd. James then nails the 2nd round pick which surprised a lot of people:
Based on the players they've visited with I think the Panthers will look for an offensive guard on Friday. They've spent time with both Midwestern State's Amini Silatolu, and Wisconsin's Kevin Zeitler- players thought to be BPA right around pick forty, however in recent weeks teams who are drafting in the late 20's have spent a lot of time with both players. There's a chance neither player will be available in the second round.
As it turns out only Siratolu was available and again the Panthers did not stall in submitting their selection. This may seem like a BPA reach pick to some people but in reality Siratolu made it an easy pick. Yes, the Panthers felt the 'need' for a guard. But a truly 'nasty' guard it coveted and you don't often see them on the board at #40. It's another pick I think we will grow to love.