Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 5/3/12
Although the 2012 NFL Draft is over, the analyzing is only beginning. Over the rest of this offseason, the next regular season and beyond, each team will be graded, evaluated and analyzed about their selections in the Draft and how those selections have fared in the NFL. This article is the first of many of those evaluations, as I grade each of the Carolina Panthers' 2012 draft picks.

1.9.9 LB Luke Kuechly: A
With linebacker Dan Connor going to Dallas and linebacker Omar Gaither still unsigned, Carolina needed to strengthen their defense at the linebacker position. Carolina accomplished this goal by drafting one the best linebackers ever to play college football in Luke Kuechly.

In 2009, Kuechly led the ACC and finished second in the ACC in solo tackles and total tackles with 87 and 157 respectively. In 2010 and 2011, Kuechly led the NCAA in solo tackles and total tackles with 110 and 183 respectively in 2010, and 102 and 191 respectively in 2011. In total Kuechly finished his career at Boston College with 299 solo tackles, and 532 total tackles, both of which are NCAA records.

Kuechly is a player that quickly chases down ball carriers and does an awesome job of tackling.

2.8.40: OL Amini Silatolu: B
Carolina took a risk in drafting Amini Silatolu in the fact that Silatolu is coming from a smaller school in Midwestern State.  However, this is a risk with great positive potential, as Silatolu competed well at the Combine, and he earned a high grade.

He is a quick player who blocks well and can chase down running backs. If Silatolu can work hard and develop his potential and ability he could be a great NFL guard.

4.8.103: DE Frank Alexander: C
Frank Alexander was worthy of a fourth-round selection because he played well at Oklahoma but his statistics are not overly impressive.  In four years at Oklahoma Alexander garnered 142 total tackles, 44 tackles for loss, 20.5 sacks and six forced fumbles. 

Depending on his ability to successfully transition to the NFL, Alexander could turn out to be a draft boom or a draft bust.

4.9.104: WR Joe Adams: C
Carolina did use a pick on a wide receiver following their early focus on defense, but it should have been used on a wide receiver with superstar qualities, who could eventually replace Steve Smith as the No. 1 wide receiver. However, Joe Adams does not fit that bill.

Adams never had a 1,000-yard season finishing his college career with 2,410 and 17 touchdowns. Adams will join a Carolina roster full of average receivers who share playing time behind Smith.

5.8.143: CB Josh Norman: B
In an effort to continue upgrading their defense, the Carolina Panthers selected cornerback Josh Norman.

Norman is one those players who has the potential to be a great player drafted in a late round of the Draft. In his four seasons with Coastal Carolina, Norman accumulated 138 solo tackles, 196 total tackles, 35 passes defended, and 13 interceptions.

Norman played at Costal Carolina, which is in a smaller Big South conference, so seeing how Norman transitions to a higher level of play will be interesting to watch.

6.37.207: Brad Nortman: C
Carolina needed a punter so drafting punter Brad Nortman, was not necessarily a bad pick. However, Nortman’s production did fall in his last two seasons compared to his first two. In his first two seasons, Nortman punted for 4,817 yards while in his last two seasons he punted for 3,566 yards.

There should be less change from the college game to the pro game for the punter position, so Nortman’s future in the NFL will depend on his work ability.

Final Analysis
Overall I give the Carolina Panthers a final grade of C+, because they addressed needs on defense but the team could of used some picks on better players. 


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