03 May 2012
There will be up to seven new faces in Charlotte this fall as the Panthers have made their draft picks and over the next couple of days, we take a closer look at these players so that you all can become more familiar with them. We will look at who they are, what their strengths are and what holes they fill on the team. To start things off, let's examine the Panthers second round pick, Amini Silatolu.
School: Midwestern State University
Who is Amini Silatolu?
Silatolu has been described by most scouts as a strong offensive lineman "with a mean streak." He has shown to be very aggressive on opposing defensive lineman and always manages to finish his blocks. He impressed a lot of people at the NFL Draft Combine with his performance in the speed and agility drills as he proved to be very agilie for a lineman. That combined with his strength and on-field performance won him over with a lot of scouts and there were some who projected him going in the first round.
He was part of a very strong offense at Midwestern State as they had the second best rushing offense among Division II schools and their strong offensive line was part of the reason for that. Midwestern State also averaged the highest amount of rushign yards per attempt in the nation. To add to that, Midwestern State had one of the best offensive lines in terms of pass protection as they allowed less than one sack per game last season.
Now, these stats do not tell you everything about Silatolu because there were obviously other factors that contributed to Midwestern State's strong rushing offense, there is only so much game tape available on Silatolu so these stats do help judge his performance a little. The raw talent is certainly there and the fact that he played a big part of the team's offensive line is also a good sign.
The questions surrounding him are mostly centered around his academic and off-the-field performance, but something else that might worry people is how he will perform against stronger competition. Midwestern State was one of the best Division II schools in the nation, but the level of competition there is obviously weaker than that in Division I programs. Opposing team's defensive lines will be a lot tougher to handle in the NFL and it will be interesting to see if Silatolu will be up to the challenge. He has the size and athleticism to be very successful in the NFL, though.
Why did the Panthers draft him?
Something that was overlooked by a lot of people was that Travelle Wharton was cut for monetary and cap purposes, and he was a very effective run blocker over the years. If the Panthers left this position unaddressed, they would be starting Mike Pollak at LT and that would be a severe downgrade. Having a rookie start in Wharton's place is also a downgrade but Silatolu has a ton of potential and can easily become a solid starter in the Panthers' system.
Something else to remember is that Jeff Otah has finished the last two years on IR and he is becoming very undependable at the RT position. The Panthers need some insurance there and drafting Silatolu gives them that. It was a little unexpected to see the Panthers take an offensive lineman with quite a few defensive tackles available, but they had other needs and Silatolu's potential was too good to pass up at #40.
In short, this is a very safe and solid pick for the Panthers, much like their 1st round selection, Luke Kuechly.
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