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2012 NFL Draft Recap: Panthers Play it Safe

Leading up the the draft Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said the organization were looking for two things from their 2012 draft class- players who could make an impact immediately, and players who are safe. Following a risky selection in 2011 in Cam Newton (which appears to have paid off), Carolina looked to bolster their anemic defense and solidify their lines. To this end they achieved their goals. Today we're looking at the Panthers first four picks, and how they'll help their team in 2012.

Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

The Panthers defense really struggled in 2011 due to a linebacking corps decimated by injury. To this end the Panthers were able to protect themselves against injury, and solidify their group by selecting the Kuechly. Immediately he'll be asked to play either the middle, or weakside linebacker spots next to Jon Beason and should help stop the run.

Amini Silatolu, OG, Midwestern State

Electing not to bring back veteran guard Travelle Wharton necessitated the need to find a long term answer to bolster the interior OL. Silatolu is a mean player who plays with a violence the Panthers don't currently have on the offensive line. He'll likely start 2012 at LG where he can pull and lead block for Cam Newton in the open field.

Frank Alexander, DE, Oklahoma

Last year in free agency the Panthers made a big commitment to retain DE Charles Johnson, and now it was time for them to adress the need to find a pass rusher to play opposite him. Alexander is a defensive end who garnered mixed reviews leading up to the draft, but his long arms and solid motor are a first step to helping the pass rush.

Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas

The Carolina Panthers were one of the worst teams in the NFL on special teams. This was due to a non-existent return game, and terrible ST blocking. In free agency they addressed their need for blockers and gunners, but it was time to try and find an elite KR/PR moving forward. Adams was the best returner in the NCAA last year, and the Panthers will hope he's able to bring some of that skill to the next level.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.