After months of scouting and prep work, the Carolina Panthers needed just 90 seconds to make their first-round pick Thursday night.

That’s all the time first-year general manager Dave Gettleman needed to land his big “hog molly.”

Looking to fortify its defensive line and give middle linebacker Luke Kuechly some protection up front, Carolina took Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei with the 14th pick of the NFL draft.

Lotulelei, a 6-foot-3, 311-pound native of Tonga, was considered a top-3 overall prospect before being diagnosed with a heart condition at the scouting combine in February. But he was cleared by a University of Utah cardiologist last month, and worked out for the Panthers following the Utes’ pro day.

It’s the first time the Panthers have taken a defensive tackle in the first round. Before Lotulelei, the Panthers had taken only one defensive tackle in the first 50 picks – Kris Jenkins went 44th overall in 2001.

Lotulelei becomes the fourth Utah player drafted by the Panthers. Two of the former Utes are the longest-tenured players on the roster and are destined for the team’s ring of honor – Steve Smith and Jordan Gross.

A week before his first draft as a general manager, Gettleman talked about the importance of adding big players on both sides of the line, calling such space-eaters “hog mollies.”

The way the draft unfolded, the Panthers had their pick of the two highest-rated defensive tackles in Lotulelei and Florida’s Sharrif Floyd.

Gettleman said the Panthers were considering three players at 14, believed to be Lotulelei, Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert and Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes.

But they needed less than two minutes to go with Lotulelei.

“We’re very excited,” Gettleman said. “What Star does, he impacts the game on every snap in terms of the run game, pass game. He is a legitimate three-down defensive tackle. He’s not someone you’re going to replace in your sub-package defense.

“The other huge thing he does is he’s going to occupy two (blockers) quite often, which is going to keep Luke (Kuechly) free. It gives Luke more protection, which makes our defense better.”