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Draft review: What fans are saying

Posted May 1, 2012

From the casual fan to the passionately obsessed, the NFL Draft is always a cause for debate.

In the months leading up to the draft, message boards and social networks are pelted with mock drafts, sleeper picks and draft strategies. Even as the draft plays out, fans are invited to criticize or commend in real time, thanks to social media. Mere moments after Mr. Irrelevant is selected, analysts are busy grading the draft and highlighting winners and losers. 

Social networks like Facebook and Twitter allow the fans to have a voice, and that voice is singing the Panthers' praises.

"This was a great draft for the Panthers. They addressed almost all of their needs, and got steals across the board, especially with our new local defensive back," commented Jon Pugh on Twitter.

"The picks have been fantastic. A pass rusher, a huge playmaker and a potentially awesome cornerback? Great draft," added Brandon Beard.

"Proud of the Panthers, they did really good in the draft and I am really excited for this season and think we can do some damage!" commented Keenan Cornett.

While a team can never satisfy everyone, the numbers certainly indicate that the fan base is pleased with the newest members of the team.  In a poll on the Panthers Facebook page, a combined 87 percent of fans graded the team with an A or B, while a paltry five percent gave the organization a D or F.

The biggest complaint from fans? Not selecting a defensive tackle in the first two rounds of the draft.

In a February 2012 poll, more than half of fans felt the team should use their first-round pick on a defensive lineman, while 23 percent thought the team should draft a cornerback.

"We didn't get a game changer on the defensive line, our biggest need, so I give them a C," said Brian Peeler on Facebook. "They only picked one weapon. It seems like going back to the old safe players that gave us only 4 winning seasons in 17 years."

"I hope the Panthers know what they are doing, because it doesn't look like they do from here. No defensive tackle drafted, and a big need there not addressed," responded Ted Atchley.

"I think we should've drafted Fletcher Cox," added David Taylor.

Fans have a right to be uncertain about the defensive line. Ron Edwards missed the entire season with a triceps injury, forcing rookie defensive tackles Sione Fua and Terrell McClain to start.  In early December, Fua was sidelined with a hamstring injury and McClain sprained his knee.  Both players were placed on injured reserve and missed the remainder of the season.

"We must be counting on Edwards, McClain and Fua to break out this year or Hurney has something up his sleeve," suggested Twitter user Psyco_Sykes.

"Ron Edwards did not play a game last year. With the progression of Fua and others, the defensive tackle position is not as bad as people think," offered Jordan Coward.

"The Panthers used two third-round picks on defensive tackles just last year," said Travis Howard on Facebook. "I trust that both of those guys will develop with the help of Ron Edwards and other veteran players. We did good to add depth to the linebackers and offensive line."

Fans may be split on the need for a defensive tackle, but one thing is certain. They are excited to see how linebacker Luke Kuechly will impact the defense.

"Great pick by the Panthers. Kuechly is the guy to help shut down those monstrous NFC South TEs we face almost half the season," tweeted John Riley.

"This kid is a stud! Very intelligent and athletic…Love the pick, Panthers!" Derek Fohrman commented on Facebook.

Fans also demonstrated excitement over Arkansas wide receiver Joe Adams, who should help the Panthers as a punt-return specialist and slot receiver.

"Based on what he did in college, Adams is going to be huge for our team. A total impact player," said Mark Burton on Facebook.

"The best punt returner in the draft was handed to us. Solid wide receiver – great pick. He's going to be a great help to Cam Newton and Steve Smith," Cam Stevenson said on Facebook.

The Panthers rounded out their draft by selecting a local standout from of Coastal Carolina, cornerback Josh Norman.

"I was thinking about this dude a few days ago for our secondary! Good pick! He only runs like a 4.6, BUT if you watch his highlights, it seems he is in the air stretched out for about a day going for the ball! We have more than a few DBs to work with now!" commented Kim Pham on Facebook.

"Norman is a great pick and will be a great asset to the team when the season starts," added Michael Isaac.

Overall, fans are satisfied with the players selected by the Panthers, but only time will tell if they develop into assets.

In the meantime, fans can continue to share their opinions on the development of these players and more as the roster takes shape for the 2012 season.