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Panthers: All 5 draft picks under contract

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - The Panthers have signed all five of their draft picks.

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Carolina announced Thursday it has signed its four previously unsigned draft picks -- defensive tackle Star Lotulelei from Utah, guard Edmund Kugbila from Valdosta State, linebacker A.J. Klein from Iowa State and running back Kenjon Barner from Oregon.

Carolina previously signed defensive tackle Kawann Short on Wednesday.

Financial terms of the deals were not released.

``We are thrilled to have all of our draft choices under contract,'' Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said in a press release.

Lotulelei, the 14th overall pick in the NFL draft, is expected to start alongside veteran Dwan Edwards at defensive tackle as a rookie. Lotulelei started 28 games at Utah and finished his career with 107 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, four forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries after transferring from Snow College.

``Star gives us an impactful three-down defensive lineman,'' Gettleman said in the release.

Kugbila, the 108th overall selection and a native of Ghana, is expected to compete with veteran Geoff Hangartner for a starting spot at right guard. Considered a dominant run blocker, he helped Valdosta State to the Division II national championship last season.

Klein, a fifth-round pick, is a three-time All-Big 12 Conference linebacker who recorded 117 tackles in each of the last two seasons.

Barner, a sixth-round pick who the Panthers view as a potential scat back, ran for 3,623 yards and 41 touchdowns for the Ducks.

``A.J.'s versatility is very appealing to us,'' Gettleman said in the release. ``He has played all three linebacker positions and he will have a chance to help us on special teams. Kenjon has great speed and was a dynamic player on offense and special teams at Oregon.''

AP NEWS
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The Associated Press
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