Carolina Panthers 2008 NFL Draft Grade
It's completely obvious now what the direction for the Panthers is - running the football. If Jonathan Stewart can prove to stay healthy then he and DeAngelo Williams will be the best one-two punch in the game. The other question is whether Jeff Otah can play left tackle. If he can effectively, then he was worth the future number one pick they gave up to get him. He can without a doubt run block and he along with Travelle Wharton on the left side will be tough to stop.

Dan Connor and Charles Godfrey have a chance to start on defense. Connor was a great playmaker in school and left Linebacker U as their all-time leading tackler. He simply finds himself around the ball consistently. Also I had him going in round one so my opinion may be a little biased. Godfrey is a versatile defensive back who could play a little in nickel and zone packages for Carolina. Gary Barnage adds a legitimate receiving threat at tight end for whoever plays quarterback for the Panthers next year. 

I actually have two sleepers for Carolina. The first is former Duck Geoff Schwartz; if he develops well and I'm talking foot speed, he could be the long term replacement for Jordan Gross at right tackle. The other player is Nick Hayden from Wisconsin. This former Badger anchored the defensive line for a top 10 team all year. He has great size and strength and will crack the depleted defensive line rotation early.  

Quarterback is the only position the Panthers missed out on in the draft; there should have been an apparent concern for Jake Delhomme's health after going through elbow surgery in the off season. I would expect them to address the need at some point in the off-season. 

Round 1 (13) – Jonathan Stewart – RB – 5’11” 235 – Oregon 

Round 1 (19) – Jeff Otah – OT – 6’6” 340 – Pittsburgh 

Round 3 (67) – Charles Godfrey – CB – 6’0” 207 – Iowa 

Round 3 (74) – Dan Connor – OLB – 6’3” 233 – Penn State 

Round 5 (141) – Gary Barnidge – TE – 6’6” 243 – Louisville 

Round 6 (181) – Nick Hayden – DT – 6’4” 291 – Wisconsin 

Round 7 (221) – Hilee Taylor – OLB – 6’3” 242 – North Carolina 

Round 7 (241) – Geoff Schwartz – OL – 6’6” 332 – Oregon 

Round 7 (250) – Mackenzy Bernadeau – OG – 6’4” 298 – Bentley 

Carolina Panthers – Draft Grade – B+ 

By T. Lewis,
May 7, 2008