As time goes, how these guys fit, who they really are, these things will be written. For now, there's time for a summary on what we did.
A few quick hits on the 2011 draft.
*Cam Newton, right or wrong, is the star. We needed one, and a QB that you have to stick with.
*To go with that, Carolina picked up a shorter, but very explosive, receiver that fits the Coryell O and has both speed and production. They finished with two linemen that were great value.
What they missed:
TE. There were plenty of guys with quality left at the end of the draft, and I'm sure they'll come up with resolution on their two free agents, but it would've made sense to add a body.
*Hand picking two DTs was a good idea, and Rivera explained it well in relation to the LBs playing "sideways". Pairing that with a talented but unfocused CB and weakside LB fixes the major needs.
What they missed:
Value, possibly. McClain was good, but as quality as Fua is, he was maybe a round high. Hogan was in range, but risky prospects aren't good value. Wilson was good value. Picking for need rarely comes with great value, though, and with the existing youth they had to pick the spots to improve.
Any impact for special Teams?
Lawrence Wilson will definitely add something. If Hogan is healthy, he may contribute. Technically, our long snapper the last two years came from this draft in a 7th round trade. Otherwise, not a lot. Maybe Pilares plays a little here as well, having size and strength for his height.
Did they hedge against possible FA losses?
Not really. Wilson at LB might add back depth lost with Anderson probably gone and Davis still rehabbing. Didn't protect at TE but did sign Shockey.
They still can't afford to lose Charles Johnson or Ryan Kalil, but hopefully wont. They didn't need to guard against Deangelo Williams but spoke a few different times as if he was a part of things anyway.
Did they improve?
Assuming both DTs can play, or they add a vet to go with the new duo, they should impact the run defense enough to allow third downs to be more impactful. Hogan at CB will depend on his rehab.
It's impossible to really predict Newton's short term impact, and Pilares is a bit of duplication as a young WR, but might be their best slot player right now. The linemen probably don't play right off.
So, it looks like the DTs are 'it', and whatever happens with Newton, for immediate impact. But without a 2nd, and without free agency, three likely starters on a team that's terribly young isn't bad. Guys like Wilson, Pilares look like they can work onto the field situationally already.
*Lack of BPA
This team definitely took need players, and for that, they lost some value. They also, in some spots, took guys who might not be "ready" - linemen that could add strength, speed guys who are coming off injury.
That looks like a bad thing, and maybe it is, but it's a unique year. The team has tons of youth already, so they had to pick and choose who fit best, who might make the most impact - along with the obvious hole at DT.
The move away from BPA is, hopefully, a one year thing. This team's best picks have often come when not necessarily needed at that point.
FA should still net a vet QB. There isn't much room for a vet WR now, and that may or may not still be true if Steve Smith is traded. There are now 4 young WR that need to see the field, and experience will be missed. Wallace Wright may not have room to stick, but his previous Coryell experience might mean he's not cut right away and might go into camp.
There's still room for a FA DT, and if they wanted, a FA cornerback, but neither would be huge signings. A backup tight end might make sense if neither incumbent returns.
It's no secret to anyone paying attention that it was hard to lose the 33rd overall pick in the draft, and as we now know the Patriots took cornerback Ras-I Dowling with the pick.
What else was there?
Carolina could've upgraded DT earlier, with the ox-strong but still athletic Stephen Paea; TE Kyle Rudolph would've been a great long term solution.