In the aftermath of the Panthers destruction of the Giants it became quite clear the Panthers may have their 3rd straight Rookie of the Year. Pro Football Focus is charting the 1st round rookies and Panthers DT Star Lotulelei is currently at the top of the list based on his performance through three games:
1. Star Lotulelei, DT, CAR: +7.8 Saw a season-low 25 snaps as the Panthers faced a lot of the Giants 11 personnel and could afford to take it easy on their first-round pick. Still notched his first NFL sack mind you.
Wow...I didn't realize he had such a low snap count (47%) given the impact he made. I would have thought he was out their for 90% of the Panthers defensive plays (53).
If you are interested they have another article detailing the current running performance grades for all 32 first round picks:
14. Star Lotulelei, DT, Carolina Panthers Grade: +7.8 Snaps: 108 Analysis: At the moment our sixth ranked defensive tackle on the year with nearly his entire grade coming against the run. In that regard only Damon Harrison has graded better as Lotulelei already makes a name for himself.
For defensive players it looks like only Dion Jordan and Ziggy Ansah are playing well enough to hang with Lotulelei so far.
You might recall that back early in the offseason [queue the harp music] I kept a storystream of Star's draft status and openly wished by some grace of the Football Gods he could land in Carolina. At the time it seemed but a pipe dream, especially when he passed the 'gold standard' of heart tests. But the Football Gods answered my prayers and now we are seeing the fruit of our harvest on the field.
It gets better.
He's not only a Superstar in the making, but the kid is completely humble, coachable and a family man just going to work and learning every day. In other words, a real dream:
Panthers have humble Star in the making | Beach Carolina Magazine
"When I first got here, Jordan Gross picked on me about it, saying, ‘You know we’ve had rookies of the year the past two years, so no pressure,’ " Lotulelei said. "But nobody’s really putting that pressure on me. It’s just about me doing my part for this defensive line and this team. "I try not to focus on those kinds of things. I come in each and every week and work, and if I do my part, all of those things will fall into place if it’s meant to be."
So might the Panthers land a 3rd straight Rookie of the Year after OROY Cam Newton in 2011 and DROY Luke Kuechly last year? It sure is looking good so far.