Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short, the Panthers first- and second-round picks in the April draft, are both big and play defensive tackle.
Thats where the comparisons end.
Lotulelei is known best as a run-stuffer, Short a pass rusher.
Lotulelei was born in Tonga and grew up in Utah. Short is from East Chicago, Ind.
Lotulelei, the 14th pick from Utah, is quiet and soft-spoken; Short, the former Purdue standout picked 44th overall, is loud and demonstrative.
And then theres what Panthers coach Ron Rivera called the most obvious distinction.
Star is married and KKs single, Rivera said, using Shorts nickname.
Despite their different personalities and tax-filing status, Lotulelei and Short figure to be linked at least through the early stages of their NFL careers 310-pound reminders of the year Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman bet big early in the draft.
Rivera hopes the bond is long and strong.
When you draft guys like that you have an opportunity to keep them together for a long time, Rivera said. They can play together for 6, 7, 8 years down the line and theyll develop that rapport that you see when a group has been together a while.
Day 1 was Friday, at least as far as practices go.
The two actually met in February at the combine in Indianapolis, where unfortunately for them they had plenty of time to break the ice. Lotulelei was instructed not to participate after doctors diagnosed him with a heart condition hes since been cleared while Short sat out with a hamstring injury.
We both didnt work out, so there wasnt too much to look at, Lotulelei said. We were on the sideline talking. He was a real cool guy over there and its carried over here.
Panthers defensive line coach Eric Washington wants Lotulelei and Short to spend time together outside the meeting room and practice field. Despite Lotuleleis low-key demeanor with reporters, Short said their conversations are far from one-sided.
We sit there at meetings and barely say anything. We focus and try to learn our playbooks, Short said. But when we go to lunch or something, hes talking and hes opening up.
Their discussions this week have been about pass protections, alignments and the speed of the pro game.
Ten times faster than college, just the tempo and coming out here in this heat, Short said after the second of two practices Friday at the Panthers rookie minicamp. Its not usually this hot outside at Purdue.
Apparently, Short hasnt heard about Spartanburg. Lotulelei might want to tell him.
Its not too bad, Lotulelei said of the weather. I dont think its as hot as its going to get, yet.
And the rookie defensive tackles arent as comfortable as theyre going to get. Lotulelei talked about improving his technique and getting in better shape.
But Rivera thought Lotulelei moved well.
Not just quickness but overall down the field, sideways, great lateral movement, Rivera said. So real excited about what hes going to bring to the table.
Like Lotulelei, Short also said he needs to refine his pass-rush moves and overall technique.
Everything has to be perfect. Everybody out here is way better than what they were in college, Short said. So your game has to come every day.
Rivera, an NFL linebacker who played nine seasons in Chicago, believes the games of both Lotulelei and Short will improve because of the other. He speaks from experience.
After the Bears drafted linebacker Wilber Marshall in the first round in 1984, they used their second-round pick on another linebacker Rivera, who, like Short, was the 44th pick.
Back in my day I was drafted right behind Wilber Marshall, and it took a lot of pressure off me. I think thats sort of the situation for KK, Rivera said. Star will get a lot more of the attention and itll take the pressure off KK. And I think thatll help him. But at the same time itll help Star because hell have someone who understands what hes going through right now.