CHARLOTTE — Ron Rivera didn’t anticipate the Carolina Panthers would use their first two draft picks on defensive tackles.
Then again, he didn’t expect Purdue’s Kawann Short would be there in the middle of the second round.
Rivera says the Panthers had a first-round grade on Short, so when he fell to the 44th spot overall, they wasted no time turning in their pick — even after taking fellow defensive tackle Star Lotulelei from Utah in round one.
Rivera called Short a “value pick.”
After watching Short perform the first two days at rookie minicamp, Rivera is more convinced than ever that Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman made the right choice doubling down on tackles last month.
He said Short and Lotulelei can be difference makers when it comes to providing an inside pass rush.
“Very much so,” Rivera said. “The things they’re doing are what we need from that position. I’m pretty excited about that. Star has been what we thought he was. There is some stuff I really like about (Short), especially his first step movement and how quickly he gets into his pass rush mode. That’s really big for us.”
Rivera believes both Lotulelei and Short will take some of the pressure off defensive ends Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy, both of whom finished with double-digit sack totals last season.
“Our rookies are capable of playing either of the defensive tackle positions,” Rivera said. “We’re expecting big things from them.”
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Longtime Raiders chief executive office Amy Trask resigned her position, ending the tenure of one of the highest-ranking women in American professional sports. Trask spent 25 seasons with the Raiders.
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