NEW YORK -- The Carolina Panthers desperately needed help at defensive tackle. The top run-stuffer on a lot of boards fell to them at No. 14, and they didn't waste any time in taking Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei at the 2013 NFL Draft on Thursday.
New Panthers general manager David Gettleman waited less than 30 seconds before sending in the card to draft his first pick since taking over in Carolina. Defensive tackle long has been a trouble spot for the Panthers, and they wound up having their pick of talented options: Florida's Shariff Floyd stayed on the board until he was picked by the Minnesota Vikings at No. 23 overall.
Lotulelei, who was medically cleared after a scare with a test on his heart at the NFL Scouting Combine, fits better than Floyd for what Panthers coach Ron Rivera wants out of his defensive tackles -- bulk. The Panthers have a promising defensive line now with Greg Hardy, Charles Johnson and Lotulelei taking three of the four spots.
This pick helps correct the error of 2011 when the Panthers reached for need by drafting Terrell McClain and Sione Fua in the third round. Lotulelei's selection was anything but a reach. He might prove to be a huge bargain.Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.