1 - Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College (6-3, 242); 2 - Amini Silatolu, OG, Midwestern State (6-4, 311); 4 - Frank Alexander, DE, Oklahoma (6-4, 270); 4 - Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas (5-11, 179); 5 - Josh Norman, CB, Coastal Carolina (6-0, 197); 6 - Brad Nortman, P, Wisconsin (6-3, 213); 7 - D.J. Campbell, DB, California (6-0, 201)
Top Picks Analysis: The injuries that ravaged Carolina's linebacker corps in 2011 prompted the team to snare the consensus best prospect at the position in the incredibly instinctive Kuechly with the ninth overall selection. The reigning Butkus Award winner is advanced enough to step right into the middle and push three-time Pro Bowl honoree Jon Beason to the weak side, turning what had been a huge liability last season into a strength. Silatolu, who originally signed with Nevada but failed to qualify academically, isn't nearly as polished. However, the Division II standout has the power, athleticism and nasty streak to become a quality starter at left guard with added seasoning. The Panthers gave up their 2013 third-round choice to land Alexander, a long- armed pass-rushing specialist with solid size and who gives high effort.
Best Value Pick: Norman carries significant risk due to his age (turns 25 in December), competition level and questions about his makeup, but he's got the prototype size and next-level ability to be a worthwhile gamble in the fifth round.
Questionable Calls: The Panthers' two greatest holes heading into the draft were at defensive tackle and cornerback, but they didn't do anything to address the first area and Norman is a quintessential boom-or-bust pick.
Summary: After taking one of the draft's safest players in Kuechly, the remainder of Carolina's crop is long on both potential and uncertainty. If unproven newcomers such as Silatolu and Norman reach their high ceilings, this has the makings of being a special group.
FINAL GRADE: B