|5th Round: Panthers select talented slot WR Pilares|
|Written by Steve Reed|
|Saturday, 30 April 2011 13:40|
CHARLOTTE – The Carolina Panthers continued preparing for the inevitability of life after Steve Smith, selecting wide receiver Kealoha Pilares from Hawaii in the fifth round of Saturday's NFL draft.|
Smith has two years left on his contract, but has privately told team officials he wants to be traded.
At 5-foot-10 and 199 pounds Pilares is a thickly built receiver who operates best in the slot and should work well in Rob Chudzinski's new offensive scheme. He compares his game to college teammate and current Miami Dolphin Davonne Bess as well as New England’s Wes Welker. He has a reputation of being fearless when it comes to going across the middle.
“Going across the middle is part of the game and it opens things up for the outside receivers,” Pilares said.
Pilares is viewed as a smart receiver who reads defenses well and is dangerous after the catch.
“My ability to read coverages and to make plays out there (is a strength),” Pilares said. “I feel like I’m a very smart receiver that can catch on to things really fast. I understand coverages well and I think to play at Hawaii you have to do that.”
Pilares becomes the fourth receiver drafted by the Panthers in the last two seasons, a clear sign the Panthers are looking to go younger at that position. A year ago the Panthers selected Brandon LaFell and Armanti Edwards in the third round and David Gettis in the sixth and all three made the roster.
A native of Hawaii, Pilares ranked seventh nationally in yards per game (100.5) and 13th in receptions per game (6.8) last season. He finished last season with 1,306 yards receiving, fifth-best in school history, and scored 15 touchdowns.
For his career, Pilares had 209 receptions for 2,491 yards with 22 touchdowns, averaging 11.9 yards per reception. He spent his first two seasons playing running back for Hawaii because they already had a pretty good receiver in Bess. Once Bess left Pilares moved to the slot and his career exploded.
He had 154 receptions for 1,996 yards and 19 touchdowns his final two years for the Warriors.
He has very limited experience as a returner.
Pilares sprained his PCL in his knee late last season, although said he’s fully recovered.
“I’ve been running routes and sprinting on it for over a month now,” Pilares said, adding that he ran a 4.41 in his Pro Day workout.
Pilares said he’s excited about catching passes from quarterback Cam Newton, the team’s first-round pick.
“I saw him at the Scouting Combine and it’s crazy what kind of physical specimen that guy is,” Pilares said. “He’s huge and he’s a great quarterback. I think he’s definitely the greatest athlete in this class. He’s a baller. He’s a football player and just to be on the same team with that guy, I’m very thankful. I can't wait to work out with him.”