The Carolina Panthers surprisingly ignored their defensive tackle position on draft day last year. Despite regularly deciding to use two of their allotted 11 players at 4-3 DT on a given play, the Panthers would neglect it despite extremely poor results.
Dwan Edwards, Ron Edwards and Siona Fua ranked 70th, 75th and 83rd respectively among 85 qualifying 4-3 DTs in the league last season according to Pro Football Focus grading last season, and the outcome was roughly as bad the year before. Two third-rounders spent in 2011 failed to pan out, and Kris Jenkins has long been gone. This made it even more impressive that Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy could wreak havoc from the end spots.
Well, Carolina got right to plugging this hole in the 2013 NFL Draft, selecting Utah‘s Star Lotulelei in the first round and Purdue‘s Kawann Short in the second. What was once a perennially porous run defense is now quite scary with 2012 Defensive Rookie of the Year Luke Kuechly, last year’s Carolina first-rounder — manning the mike spot.
After the pick of Lotulelei, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock remarked, “He’s a prototypical, in both nose tackle and five-technique, meaning he can play outside, in a 3-4 or he can play inside. Carolina’s gonna love him inside. He’s going to be a great pair with Dwan Edwards.” Lotulelei will also be pairing with Short as well. I imagine the three will rotate a fair amount, as it’s hard to imagine Lotulelei playing every snap at his size.
Did I mention new general manager Dave Gettleman came from the New York Giants‘ front office, or has that already been made obvious in rounds 1 and 2?
Picks: Lotulelei (1-14), Short (2-12), no third