In the 2012 draft, the Panthers traded a 6th round pick (#180) and a 2013 3rd round pick for the 4th round pick (#103) of the San Francisco 49ers . This trade gave the Panthers back to back picks in the 4th round, #103 and #104 respectively. As we know, the Panthers used these two picks to draft Frank Alexander and Joe Adams. Now that the 2013 draft has passed, we have a clearer view at what the Panthers gained and missed out on in the trade for this pick.
There are several ways to look at this trade. One way is to call it "the Frank Alexander Trade". Though true, I don't believe this way tells the whole story. If the Panthers only wanted Frank Alexander, they could have just taken him with the very next pick. The design of this trade was for the Panthers to be able to obtain the services of both Alexander and Adams. Let's compare what we got with what we gave up:
Pass rushing depth was a massive weakness in 2011, and the team decided to do something about it. The 2011 co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year was generally praised for having excellent length and a great motor. Pre-draft criticism generally questioned his upside, and there were the health questions concerning his heart as well. Big Frank's major stats were produced early in the season- 2.5 sacks and 3 passes defended. But his chief value was that by contributing 552 defensive snaps, Johnson and Hardy could potentially remain slightly fresher during games...perhaps helping contribute to their breakout 2012 seasons.
The electric 2011 SEC Special Teams Player of the Year was to fill a hole we desperately needed, and give our explosive offense more optimal field position. Adams did finish 2012 with an impressive average of 11.5 yards per punt return. If he had "qualifed" (which is having at least one punt return in every game), that would have been good enough to tie for 8th in the entire league! However it was the 4 fumbles in 20 total returns that kept Adams off the field and firmly in Rivera's (and CSR's) doghouse. As a wideout, Adams only logged 1 catch for 7 yards on the season.
2012 6th Round Pick (180th overall):
After only one season, there isn't much to cry over here. The only player who stands out to me is Danny Trevathan, who had a solid season at linebacker for the Broncos. Winston Guy (S) and Nick Mondek (OG) were two other interesting guys at the time; but Guy was suspended from the Seahawks for PED use, while Mondek was bounced to the practice squad of the Texans. (sorry PR).
2013 3rd Round Pick (turned out to be 74th overall):
The 49ers ended up using this pick in a trade with the Cowboys, who in turn used it on Baylor WR Terrance Williams. Quite a few other interesting guys at need positions were taken within the next 15 picks as well:
O-line: Terron Armstead, Breenan Williams, Dallas Thomas
WR: Keenan Allen, Markus Wheaton
D-line: Damontre Moore, Corey Lemonier
DB: Logan Ryan, Shawn Williams
Hindsight is 20/20. Frank Alexander could be the next potent mid-round pass rusher found by the Panthers. Or he may at least be a solid rotational DE for much needed depth. Joe Adams may still learn to hold on to the ball, as he has already shown some of the dynamic return skills the Panthers envisioned. But given how the draft shook out this year, would you as GM would have done anything differently? Even back in 2012?