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Lewis Woodard and SB Nation’s James Dator Evaluate The Panthers’ Draft

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(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

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The Last Word 5-2-2013 - James Dator, editor of SB Nation’s Cat Scratch Reader, joins Lewis to break down the Panthers’ draft picks and discuss what they learned about new GM Dave Gettleman. Was picking Star Lotulelei over Shariff Floyd the right call? Will the coaching staff be able to develop Edmund Kugbila into a productive offensive lineman? Should Jon Beason and DeAngelo Williams feel nervous about the A.J. Klein and Kenjon Barner selections?

Listen:

Timestamps are in parentheses.

Lewis begins by asking James whether choosing Star Lotulelei over Shariff Floyd was the right move. James doesn’t hesitate to agree with Dave Gettleman’s decision. He calls it “the most no brainer pick in the entire draft.” He goes further, “To find a defensive tackle I like better than Star, I’d have go back to Ndamukong Suh.” While discussing Star’s constant double teams at Utah, Lewis predicts, “the Panthers defensive ends are going to take pressure off of him and he’s going to be able to make more plays than he did in college (3:06).”

They move on to the Panthers second round pick, Kawann Short. James offers that Short put pressure on quarterbacks without using an array of pass rush moves. “He was just really gifted at getting low, getting under the pads of these guys  driving them back, and using that to get into the backfield (5:40).” He calls the Short the kind of “penetrating” defensive tackle that the Panthers have lacked for years. Lewis is equally optimistic about Short and notes that Gettleman showed how much he prioritizes the pass rush with that pick.

James isn’t worried about neglecting the secondary as long as the pass rush delivers as expected. “If you’re able to get pressure on the quarterback to where routes can’t develop and then wide receivers can’t take advantage of even the worst defensive backs (7:15).” He notes that the 2003 Panthers won the NFC Championship with an exceptional pass rush and a mediocre secondary.

Lewis asks James if he’s confident the Panthers’ coaching staff can turn fourth round selection Edmund Kugbila into a productive NFL offensive lineman. James believes they can, citing Amini Silatulo’s development to go with another example. “I don’t think you can find many offensive line coaches and staffs right now that could take an undrafted free agent like Byron Bell and turn him into a right tackle that could start in the NFL (10:23).”

Neither can believe that a player with A.J. Klein’s resume was available in the fifth round. James calls him an “instinctive” linebacker and sees him as a future starter for the Panthers.

As for Kenjon Barner, James believes there is plenty of value in the selection. “Looking at him as a pure runner is missing the point.” He calls Barner’s fall to the sixth round, “a product of the draft and how teams have devalued the running back position (14:45).” He mentions that Barner can be used in a variety of ways, including option plays and the return game.

Lewis likes the message Gettleman sent in his first draft, making bold, unconventional choices. He calls Gettleman a “confident GM” and James agrees (19:50).

While both view the draft positively, Lewis asks what the most disappointing aspect of Gettleman’s performance was. James replies, “I would have liked to see him play the draft a little more (25:01).” More specifically, he feels Kugbila would have been available later in the draft and wonders why they didn’t trade down and possibly score another draft pick.

~Lewis Woodard, WFNZ Sports Radio The Fan 610 AM

Find Lewis on Twitter @LewWoodard

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