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Panthers Gab Grades the Teams Picks in the 2011 Draft

By Abe Munch

1st- Cam Newton, QB, Auburn,
3rd- Terrell McClain, DT, South Florida
3rd- Sione Fua, DT, Stanford
4th- Brandon Hogan, CB, West Virginia
5th- Kealoha Pilares, WR, Hawaii
6th- Lawrence Wilson, LB, Connecticut
6th- Zachary Williams, OG, Washington State
7th- Lee Ziemba, OT, Auburn

The Panthers are starting fresh with new head coach Ron Rivera, and with a new head coach usually comes a new quarterback. Carolina selected Cam Newton as their new face of the franchise and also added youth to the interior defensive line to help improve their run defense (gave up 123 yards per game).

Best Selection: Cam Newton. The Panthers needed to energize the fan base and add a player the football team could build their offense around. Ron Rivera now has ‘his guy’ to start his tenure with and Newton shows rare physical tools for the quarterback position.

Biggest Risk: Cam Newton. While Newton possesses rare physical tools, he is also very raw to the position as a passer. The Auburn offense Newton ran was developed at the high school level and much of what NFL quarterbacks are expected to do Newton wasn’t asked to do. As Jon Gruden said to him during his “QB Camp” episode, “You’re going to be moving to France”, “You’re going to have to learn to speak a whole new language”.

Sleeper: Brandon Hogan. Hogan suffered a late knee injury which he’s currently rehabbing and also has a few character concerns. But his skills are at times very impressive; has the physical mindset of a safety but plays smooth in transition and really understands zone coverage. Could be a long time starter if he stays healthy.

Grade: C
The Panthers have no immediate starter in this draft class. Both of their early selections at defensive tackle (Terrell McClain, Sione Fua) will likely be best suited as rotational players in a wave but could develop nicely in Ron Rivera’s defense. The two offensive lineman (Zachary Williams, Lee Ziemba) will need to change positions and show limited upside and athleticism.

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