Carolina Panthers take guard in second round of 2012 NFL Draft

By Dave Daniels

The Carolina Panthers surprised a few folks, and drafted Division II player Amini Silatolu in the 2nd round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

“He’ll drive a guy into a pile and just keep driving, and all of a sudden that pile will start to go forward. That’s a nasty finisher,” Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said of Silatolu. “He dominated the guy he lined up against. That makes you think it’s going to be a fairly easy transition to our level – not easy, but fairly easy.”

Silatolu could even make noise in the starting rotation at right

Silatolu played left tackle at Midwestern State, but could potentially be the Panthers’ starting left guard this season.

The Panthers even considering trading down their second round pick, but liked Silatolu enough they didn’t want to risk him being off the board.

“We weren’t going to move back if he was there. I think we could have had some opportunities (to trade down), but we just felt strong enough about him to stay and make that pick,” Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said.

“When you’re trying to evaluate a player that’s playing on the Division II level, you look for him to dominate his competition. That’s exactly what he does. When you put on tape of the guy, you see it.”

The Panthers appeared to have really hit it out of the park with their first two picks in the draft, and they drafted players that not only fit positional needs, but were also very high on the talent and effort level. Luke Kuechly is a guy who led college football in tackles the last two years, and Silatolu is a guy with a similar motor and work ethic to Kuechly.

“Every game and every practice I’ve ever competed in, I’ve always played my heart out, played full speed,” Silatolu said. “That’s my fun – I like to have fun that way.”

Ron Rivera continues to rebuild the winning culture in Carolina, and it should be an exciting year watching how these rookies are able to contribute to a possible run to the Playoffs this year.

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