Gettleman's Simple Style Yields Intriguing Young Panthers
Carolina Panthers GM Dave Gettleman is a man who always drafts the best player on his board, regardless of team needs. The Panthers came into the draft with a ton of holes to fill on both sides of the ball, but Gettleman stayed true to his mantra.
When all the the dust from the draft finally settled, Carolina was able to land some top talent as well as address many of the its needs.
My final grade for the Panthers draft is still, however, a generous one: B-
The Panthers receive this grade because they hit a few positions they needed, but completely ignored a huge hole at left tackle. The coaches obviously saw something special in Byron Bell that no one else saw last year if they are going with him as the starting left tackle when the season begins. The Panthers got a great player in the second round with the selection of Kony Ealy, but they left Morgan Moses on the board, which I think is unforgivable. Here is my overall breakdown of each player selected by Carolina.
First Round - WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
This was a solid pick by Carolina to start the draft. A lengthy, big target for QB Cam Newton was a must in the first two rounds. Benjamin was one of my favorite receivers in the draft and he should be a great fit in Carolina. He has the ability to jump up and bring in the football above the defender as well as bring in the home run ball mid-stride.
Second Round – DE Kony Ealy, Missouri
Ealy is simply a top dollar insurance policy for Carolina. The Panthers will most likely let Greg Hardy walk next year and look to Ealy to step in. They simply have too much money tied up in Charles Johnson to fork over another fortune to Hardy. Make no mistake though - next year, you will see the fiercest defensive end rotation in the league by far. Carolina will have an unstoppable defensive front. All three pass rushers will be constantly attacking the quarterback in a rotation allowing one to rest at all times.
Third Round – OG Trai Turner, LSU
Turner was another great example of grabbing the best player available on the board. Offensive line was a huge need for Carolina and Turner fit the bill perfectly. He was said to have been a possible first round prospect had he stayed in school another year. Turner was grabbed at a great price and should fit right in with Carolina as a Day One starter.
Fourth Round – SS Tre Boston, North Carolina
I am not entirely sure what the Panthers saw in Boston, but he is an interesting pick. With experience at both cornerback and safety, he will be a very versatile player. I look at Boston as a great special teams pick who can add depth and possibly take over as a starting safety or cornerback in a pinch one day.
Fifth Round – CB Bene Benwikere, San Jose State
Benwikere was selected by the Panthers after they traded their seventh round pick and swapped fifth round picks with the Minnesota Vikings. Benwikere should be competing right off the bat for the nickel defensive back spot. Playing the nickel cornerback position requires great judgment, ball skills and athleticism, and Benwikere has all three. This is a great pick up for the Panthers, especially if they get a fifth rounder who sees the playing field in his rookie season. I think Carolina picked up a solid player with great potential, which is what the team was really looking for all along.
Sixth Round – RB Tyler Gaffney, Stanford
Gaffney will come into a crowded backfield this year, but will have a chance to start next year when cap space is made. The contracts to RBs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart were mistakes that will soon be fixed. Gaffney has this season to prove that he can be a solid and reliable running back for Carolina after cuts are made.