You can bet that NFL executives around the league are becoming envious of what the Carolina Panthers have done in recent drafts. Luke Kuechly was the third defensive player selected with the ninth-overall pick in the 2012 draft, but out-shinned all rookies with by bringing home this year’s Defensive Rookie of the Year.
A year removed from Cam Newton receiving the Offensive Rookie of the Year, the Panthers have to be sitting pretty with the quarterbacks of their offense and defense set for years to come.
Growing pains are evident with both of the players, however, what the Panthers have brewing should scare the NFC.
I will definitely be keeping an eye on the Panthers come this year’s draft as they have the 14th-overall pick, and are believed to be looking at a replacement for aging wide receiver Steve Smith. Giving Newton yet another impact player on offense will only increase the teams 22.3 points per game that ranked 19th in all of the NFL in 2012.
The club would’ve made a bigger difference had ILB Jon Beason been healthy for the whole season like they’d projected, but with him going down after week four, the Panther’s defense was hamstrung. On the other hand, Kuechly did a great job in his rookie season manning the MLB position and racking up a league leading 164 tackles as the leader of the defense.
In a weakened NFC South, the Panthers have the talent to reel in a divisional title in 2013 only if they can continue to compete with and defeat the Atlanta Falcons.
The foundation is set in Carolina which is incredibly hard to find especially in just two draft classes–now it’s time for this young Panthers team to continue to build to an already promising core.