Panthers get defensive with first-round pick

NEW YORK, NY (WACH) - The Carolina Panthers have taken defensive tackle Star Lotulelei of Utah with the 14th overall pick in the NFL draft.

The Panthers needed help at the position and went with one of the top-run stoppers on the board. Florida's Shariff Floyd was also still available, but Carolina opted instead to go with the six-foot-two, 311 pound Lotulelei.

New Panthers general manager David Gettleman reportedly waited less than 30 seconds before sending in the card to make his first draft pick since taking over in Charlotte.

"We're very excited. Star impacts the game on every snap," said Gettleman. "It starts with his size and power. Star has unusual athletic ability for a man his size."

Lotulelei appears to be a good fit for what coach Ron Rivera is looking for in his defensive line. The Panthers now have a defensive line stocked with Greg Hardy, Charles Johnson and Lotulelei taking up three of the four spots.

"Star is a space eater," said Rivera. "He is going to command double teams. Our linebackers are going to be able to flow freely."

Lotulelei was shut down at this year's NFL Combine due to a heart scare. However, Gettleman says Panthers doctors were satisfied with a league-wide check of the tackle's heart. The issues were said to be linked to a virus as opposed to a permanent heart problem.