Another day, another roundtable of Cat Scratch Reader experts sharing their opinions on the NFL Draft so far:
1) What was your first reaction to the drafting of Star Lotulelei?
Jonathon DeLong, Moderator: My reaction to us landing Star was pure excitement. Up to that point, I hadn't even thought it a possibility. Having him fall to 14 was really a dream scenario.
Brian Beversluis, Author: Crying loudly for an hour.
BW Smith, Editor: Pure, unmitigated joy.
PantherEdgar, Author: Can't describe how excited I was that Star fell to Panthers at 14. (Blew up my Twitter timeline!) Quite frankly, Star was best on the board and biggest need. How can you complain?
Jaxon, Manager: Just stunned, I'm still having a hard time believing it.
Ivan459, Moderator: I honestly was flabbergasted that Star wasn't picked by any of the teams ahead of us. I am thrilled almost beyond words that we were able to get him without having to trade up. Just pure excitement with the pick.
James Dator, Manager: Shock, surprise -- mouth open. I knew he would be the pick as soon as New York passed on him, but the idea that multiple teams with needs at DT passed on the best one in the draft was just surreal.
Crawford Rundlett, Author: I took my shirt off.
Derek Leazer, Author: Pure unadulterated elation.
Richard Bates, Editor: Star was the top BPA on the board. I felt ... jubilation.
2) What do you expect from Lotulelei in his first year?
DeLong: I expect Lotulelei to be a solid run stopper that'll get a handful of sacks for us right away. I'm expecting him to take some lumps early on, but I think he'll still noticeably improve our front 7 immediately.
Beversluis: Instant starter, simply due to lack of options.
Smith: Instant starter who will help stuff the run and free the DE's and LB's to make plays.
PantherEdgar: Actually have modest expectations for Star's first year. Maybe a couple sacks, but I am hoping he improves the run defense immensely.
Jaxon: He will be a certified bad ass by week 10 of the season.
Ivan: I expect Star to be an instant stater. Stat wise, I'm not so sure about. But I do expect him to instantly make that line a much better unit. And I expect CJ, Dwan, and Hardy will benefit greatly from his presence.
Dator: Immediately everyone's life on defense gets easier. Kuechly can move around more, the DEs have more room to rush, and Dwan Edwards commands less attention. It's a defense-changing move.
Crawford: I expect a high level nose tackle, who is capable of making an impact from day one.
Leazer: He'll immediately start at NT where he will improve our run defense drastically. His ability to eat up multiple blockers will also make life easier for our linebackers and the rest of our defense line.
Bates: He'll be in a rotation, and he'll earn the start job. Second half of the season, he'll start great, then hit the wall. It happens.
3) What was your biggest surprise on Day 1?
DeLong: Biggest surprise of the day was EJ Manuel to the Bills, with Travis Frederick (who?) going to the Cowboys at the end of the round coming in second place. Also, the Jets picking Sheldon Richardson. I don't see how he fits them at all.
Beversluis: EJ Manuel only QB taken in first.
Smith: EJ Manuel being the only QB to go in the first round.
PantherEdgar: While there are obvious surprises like Dallas' pick of Frederick, and EJ Manuel as first QB taken, my real surprise was Falcons trading a lot to get Desmond Trufant. Solid player for sure, but they gave up a lot to get player that is not that much better than who would've been available at 30. Their loss is Panthers' gain!
Ivan: The run on OL all throughout the draft was a surprise. Seemed like a lot of reaches for guys that weren't even on our radar. So yeah, was definitely surprised with that. Also with Miami's selection of Dion Jordan. Thought for sure they were going to get Lane Johnson with that trade up.
Dator: E.J. Manuel being the first QB taken overall. I was higher than some on Manuel (had him going to CLE in the 2nd via trade), but seeing them pass on Geno Smith AND Ryan Nassib (who had ties to the team) was surprising.
Crawford: Dion Jordan to the Dolphins surprised me the most. Like most, I figured they'd go with Lane Johnson, although I don't think he is/was worthy of the #3 pick.
Bates: Dolphins, needing an LT, trade up to take Dion Jordan.
4) What are your initial reactions to the drafting of Kawann Short?
DeLong: I was very, very surprised when we picked Short. I thought it was a foregone conclusion that Allen would be the pick. But after my initial shock, I was happy with the pick. Our D Line is looking like it's going to be nasty for a long long time.
CanadianPanther: A bit surprised at first, but I was very happy with the pick. Dwan isn't going to play forever, and Short is an excellent replacement for him a year down the line. The Panthers have the luxury of letting him sit and learn his rookie year instead of being thrown to the wolves.
Leazer: I didn't like it initially, but I've warmed up to all the possibilities this creates for our defense.
Smith: I was surprised at first, but then I realized they had just put together one of the nastiest defensive lines in the league, and I was immediately happy.
PantherEdgar: My first reaction was shock and disappointment. But more I read, the more excited I got. Knowing that Short and Star could anchor our line for years is a great feeling. The run defense was not going to be fixed on Star alone.
5) What preliminary grade are you giving the Panthers so far?
DeLong: Have to give the Panthers an A so far. Our defense should be significantly improved, and it's hard to grade a draft in which we landed Star anything but an A.
CanadianPanther: A-. The Star pick was awesome, and the Short pick was good. Solid draft so far.
PantherEdgar: I am drinking the Kool-Aid and giving the Panthers an A for the draft. 2nd worst run defense has been fixed, making LB and secondary much better all of a sudden. What more can you ask?
6) Which player(s) are you banging the table for and hoping the Panthers draft on Day 3?
DeLong: Quinton Patton, Shamarko Thomas, Alvin Bailey, David Quessenberry. Though I admit that's based more off what I've read from others than my own personal analysis.
CanadianPanther: Quinton Patton. Best WR on the board. Still think he can come in and make an impact as a rookie.
Leazer: Quinton Patton, Sanders Commings, Da'Rick Rogers, Ryan Swope, Phillip Thomas, Bacarri Rambo, Khaseem Greene.
Smith: Quinton Patton, Sanders Commings, Aaron Mellette.
7) Who is your bet for the Panthers selection in the 4th round?
DeLong: I'll go with Quinton Patton as my bet for the Panthers pick.
CanadianPanther: Alvin Bailey. Another hog molly for the Panthers.
Leazer: Ryan Swope.
Smith: Zeke Motta.
PantherEdgar: I bet Gettleman goes offensive line this time around, picking either Reid Fragel or David Quessenberry.