It's not pretty so hold onto your hat. Take it all with a grain of salt because these guys are really guessing at this point. Who really knows how this draft class will pan out. We could have 5 Pro Bowlers here before it is all said and done ;)
I will start with the atypical grade, then look at the worst grades and then round it out with some of the positive. Atypical being a low B or high C grade:
Carolina Panthers Pick No. 28: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State The Panthers were in major need of a receiver and opted for Benjamin (6-foot-5, 235 pounds) over the still-available and smaller Marqise Lee. Benjamin played only two seasons for the Seminoles, but he put himself on the map big time with a huge 2013. Benjamin is not exactly polished, but he has the height and strength to help Cam Newton and the passing game. Grade: B
This lady seems to get the Gettleman strategy:
But general manager Dave Gettleman said he was not going to reach to fill any of those needs if he didn't like the players available, or if there was a better player available. True to his word, he did not. The Panthers finished with six new players (after trading their seventh-round pick) -- one wide receiver (first-round choice Kelvin Benjamin), two defensive backs in the fourth and fifth rounds and zero offensive tackles. How you grade this draft -- and each pick individually -- depends a lot on what you think the draft is for. If it's for addressing immediate needs, then this particular draft would probably get a C-minus or even a D. Even that might be kind. Right now, the Panthers had better hope a team overstocked with viable offensive tackles has to cut one that and that they're able to scoop him up. But if it's about building for the future and taking what the organization felt was the best player at that position, then we could get as high as the C-plus to solid B range.
If an evaluator didn't like the Panthers class then it was usually because they felt the Panthers didn't address a glaring need at OT:
The Carolina Panthers needed a dynamic wide receiver. They got one in first-round draft pick Kelvin Benjamin. They needed a left tackle to replace the retired Jordan Gross. They didn't get one. They needed a cornerback. They got a potential starter at nickel back, but the need for a starting every-down player wasn't quite as big as many thought with the news that safety Charles Godfrey has moved to corner. That my quick assessment of how the Panthers did in the NFL draft. Overall, I'd give this class a C-plus based on need. The plus is the Godfrey factor that nobody outside the organization was aware of.
Now to the Haters at CSB Sports, in particular Pete Priscoe how doesn't hide the fact his grades are based purely on need:
Grades: Lots of A's and no F's? Much to like in 2014 NFL Draft - CBSSports.com
Carolina Panthers: Their draft was puzzling to me. Why not a left tackle? Is Byron Bell the answer? Kelvin Benjamin is a big receiver, but I liked others more. Why draft a defensive end with so many other needs? Grade: D
I guess Priscoe doesn't believe in drafting 'Best Player Available' which is why he is not an NFL GM I imagine. Hell he even hated the Benjamin pick that did address a glaring need:
2014 NFL Draft Tracker - CBSSports.com - NFLDraftScout.com
Kelvin Benjamin | WR, Florida State They had to get a receiver, but I don't like this pick. He is second-round talent in my book. Why not Marqise Lee? Grade: C
While I loved Lee as a prospect I have to agree Benjamin brings something to the table the Panthers do not have an badly need, something Lee (and others) doesn't bring as well. I will be one to compare these two players and their careers over the next couple of years.
Moving back to the more reasonable evaluations:
Carolina Panthers: Grading the draft | isportsweb
Overall the Carolina Panthers had a great draft. They added a potential big-time weapon for Newton, added much needed depth to their secondary, including a guy they specifically targeted in the late rounds (Benwikere), secured a potential top-notch guard to compete for a starting position, and landed the best defensive end not named Clowney in the second round. The players selected will not handicap the Panther’s salary cap if they sign; in fact, if signed they’ll compete with players making significant money against the salary cap. Overall, a great Panther’s defense got even deeper, while the potential for the Panther’s offense in 2014 could reach new heights. Overall grade: B
This guy gets Gettleman too:
Carolina Panthers get mixed reviews on draft - ESPN
Varying opinions on Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin taken with the 28th pick in the first round and the inability to get a left tackle to replace retired Jordan Gross were the biggest reasons for the disparity. Locally, fans seem pleased.
In a Charlotte Observer online poll, eight percent gave the class an A, 48 percent a B, 32 percent a C, 10 percent a D and two percent an F. My grade was a B-minus. I liked the pick of Benjamin as a big target for quarterback Cam Newton, the second-round pick of Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy that I had going in the first round and LSU guard Trai Martin in the third. I liked that Carolina didn't waste a pick on a tackle after the first four were gone because none graded out better than what was on the roster. The Panthers got good value in the lower rounds as well.
I like the use of the term 'carpet-bombed' in this one:
Summary: Benjamin should have no problem earning a starting spot in a revamped Panthers' receiving corps which now includes veterans Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant. Meanwhile, Ealy adds to the impressive depth Carolina possesses in the front four and safety Tre Boston could help replace the departed Mike Mitchell. Gettleman, however, probably should have carpet- bombed the O-Line on Day 3 and he ignored it. Grade: B-
A slightly obscure evaluation:
Carolina Panthers: 'Good pick, Good fit'
The skinny: Perhaps we should give the Panthers some bonus points for making the Boston pick via Skype. Benwikere has terrific ball skills and should be a player Ron Rivera will like on the back end. Gaffney fits in perfectly into the Carolina offense.
One thing over looked by many is the fact we picked players who back up some of the more expensive contracts on the roster, such as DE and RB:
Panthers: C+ The Panthers went into the Draft with wide receiver as their top need and came out of the first day with a boom-bust prospect in Kelvin Benjamin. A physical specimen with elite jump-ball prowess, he should be an intriguing weapon in Cam Newton's offense. In the the second round, they grabbed DT/DE Kony Ealy improving their already-stacked defensive line.
I think that shows Gettleman is playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers.
Grade: C+ The Panthers came into the draft needing a wide receiver and an offensive tackle. The wide receiver hole was filled with Benjamin, but he has questionable hands. The team didn’t take an offensive tackle at all. The rest of the draft, though, is a good one. Ealy was a fantastic value at No. 60 as was Turner at 92. Turner could be the Larry Warford of this year’s draft. The rest of the draft is filled out with solid backup options.
So there you go.
Me personally, I was dismayed at first at the lack of an offensive tackle and the fact we traded our 7th round pick for a back-up CB. Seems even a flyer on a guy might have more value. But as I 've listened to the explanations (whether I agree with them or not) it's clear the Panther brass came into the draft with a plan and they executed it. I'd rather have them stick to a plan, whether its a good one or not, rather than go off willy nilly as soon as their plan hits a snag.
So I love the value we got with the first three picks. I have been quoted many times saying its about what you get in the first three rounds and the rest is gravy. At first blush this 'gravy' seems bland but actually in due time it could add some real spice to the roster. Also as I mentioned earlier I like the fact Getts also drafted some options behind our larger contracts at DE and RB. It's very apparent Getts is not only a good talent evaluator but he also keeps his eye on the purse strings.
So let's hope the answer truly is on the roster in the remaining areas of perceived need. If Cam Newton ends up running for his life more often than not this fall then we can heap the blame on a single guy. But if it works out we will have fun telling all these naysayers how wrong they were.