Some NFL Draft analysts believed the Panthers dropped the ball by passing on the defensive back position. Some didn't understand why the Panthers drafted a running back at all.
Any criticism, however, was trumped by what the Panthers did at the top of the draft, selecting Utah defensive tackle
"By all rights, Lotulelei shouldn't have been available at No. 14. Just a few months ago, people were talking about him as perhaps the No. 1 overall pick," wrote ESPN.com blogger Pat Yasinskas in calling it the NFC South's best move of the draft. "Put Lotulelei in a rotation with (second-round pick Kawann) Short and
A truly accurate assessment of the Panthers' five-player draft class can't be made until the selections have a chance to prove their worth on the field, but here's a look at some first impressions from around NFL nation.
--NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock was a strong voice in the almost universal praise of Lotulelei: "You can see explosion and quickness in his game. He's got real good, quick hands and great get-off. He's going to get you some push in the pass game, and a defensive coordinator like Sean McDermott is going to love having a piece to move around in sub packages."
ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay called Lotulelei "a stud," having ranked him as the third-best player in the draft.
--Pete Prisco, senior NFL columnist for CBSSports.com, called the selection of Purdue defensive tackle
--McShay called Valdosta State guard
--McShay said fifth-round linebacker
--Kiper loves the abilities of Oregon running back
--Nate Davis of USA Today gave the Panthers a B-plus: "Star Lotulelei (Round 1) and Kawann Short (Round 2 with Round 1 talent) could form one of the league's scariest lines in between DEs
--Vinnie Iyer of Sporting News gave them a B-: "They can plug in Utah's Star Lotulelei and Purdue's Kawann Short as complementary impact players inside to help free up 2012 first-round linebacker
--Prisco called Kugbila a "third-day gem" while giving the overall draft a B-: "Dave Gettleman, in his first draft with the team, made this a big-man draft. Solid start."
--Kiper gave Carolina a C-plus overall, breaking it down further by grading the Panthers a C- for need and a B for value.