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Ansah seemed thrilled at the notion of playing alongside those guys, if he had, in fact, ever heard of them. It was just a few years ago he had asked someone to explain to him what the letters AFC and NFC stood for. He had no clue. Now, he has many.
"This is a great feeling," he said Thursday night.
As for Lotulelei, the Ute wide-body who had been seen for the better part of a year as a top-five pick, maybe, early on, the top overall selection — until a heart anomaly was detected during recent tests — was forced to wait longer.
The Cleveland Browns took defensive end Barkevious Mingo. The Cardinals … offensive guard Jonathan Cooper. The Bills traded the eighth pick to the Rams, who took … wide receiver Tavon Austin. The Jets … cornerback Dee Milliner. The Titans … offensive guard Chance Warmack. The Chargers … offensive tackle D.J. Fluker. The Dolphins traded the 12th pick to the Raiders, who selected … cornerback D.J. Hayden. The Jets took … defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. And the Panthers took … defensive tackle Star Lotulelei.
Ultimately, Carolina couldn’t pass on the Ute defender, a man born and built to stop the run. Apparently, his heart isn’t an issue, after all, and his performance never was.
The Panthers are now in fantastic shape on their defensive front with Star in the middle and pass rushers Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson making life miserable for quarterbacks. Behind Lotulelei will be middle linebacker Luke Kuechly. It was a dream pick for Carolina.
All told, there were 13 offensive and defensive linemen and defenders of other ilks taken in the first 14 picks. Those pretty boys — quarterbacks, running backs and receivers — that determine, at least in shallow minds, the quality of a draft were mostly vapor. In that vein, Ansah and Lotulelei were the embodiment of the draft’s early selections.
Some considered them and those like them ruling the night an exercise in boredom.
Not anybody around here.
This draft, the first with a Cougar and a Ute going in the initial round, was a thrill a minute, especially at pick Nos. 5 and 14.
Gordon Monson hosts "The Big Show" with Spence Checketts on 97.5 FM, 1280 AM and 960 AM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.
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