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Saturday, April 30, 2016

UDFAs - I'm excited

It appears (sorry for the late pick on Sandland) that Carolina has also nabbed some UDFAs already.   

Sure, I get it.  Carolina picked three cornerbacks and no one really keeps more than five so we're going to have to figure out what the fuck that's about, somewhere down the road.  At least, you can hope that cornerback is fully covered and that's a great thing because Carolina should be ahead in games.  Right?  I mean, here's hoping.  

So the idea of draftable players in the UDFA slots makes up for the idea they might have to cut a 3rd or 5th pick at CB because they don't have space.  Here's where they might have a chance at a true gem, the player you might need badly enough to beg him to sign and save your team.  The guy that has a choice of being on your team, instead of being drafted in and having to take it. 

It's amazing to me that I had nothing on 3rd round pick Daryl Worley,  but I have something on two UDFAs: 

Carolina has picked, amongst my stupid ATD120 group, Jeremy Cash and Keyarris Grant.

Cash, a SS, was among Duke's best defenders.   Writeup here:

A scrappy, smart player with a lot of talent.  I mentioned him last night among wants for Carolina's 5th round pick, and in wanting to verify his status as a Panther I find him among a lot of "top of the undrafted" picks. 

Carolina also nabbed Keyarris Garrett, WR - Tulsa:

6'3, 220, fills that spot that they wanted to develop with Marcus Lucas, who moved on after his second camp.   Garrett is raw, but has good size/speed capability and, despite a nasty leg break, has been productive over time including as a freshman.   He's got a shot. 

There were also others I didn't write on:

Utah LB Jared Norris, profile here:

(sounds like a raw talent, so should be interesting, but is really behind the 8 ball as a Carolina LB)

Jake McGee, TE -

McGee played at a higher level than 7th round pick Beau Sandland and has similar skill.   It'll be interesting to see who, if either, can make the roster. 

Beau Sandland

Hey! A tight end. Like this kid.

Here's what I had, in source, but I'll post all of his crap here:

*TE Beau Sandland, ranking third at TE SPARQ Score behind first place (and recent ATD profile)Ben Braunecker.   Sandland is not rated that high, in part because of his route to success (JuCo -> Miami -> Montana State), but got back on the radar with a massive combine. 

4.74 40 wasn't exceptional, but that SPARQ score underlines the raw ability (23 x225, 35" vertical, 124" broad all very high in positional), along with a 6'4, 255 lb body sporting a wide catch radius topped by 10.125" hands.

He's still learning the game, in that he's gotta get better at his block angles, he's gotta get more consistent in both phases.  He can get knocked off his route a bit with a lot of contact.  But, he runs solid routes, he's tough to bring down after the catch, and he looks like he can add bulk and will grow mentally into his job. 

Good pick! 

#141 - Zack Sanchez, DB, Oklahoma

Another corner, or maybe safety?

5'11, 185.  Here's what I had on him before -

That was a month ago, of course.  But, more decorated and a bigger playmaker than the others, and maybe even more ready to play.   In the end, you do wonder, did Carolina really have a CB at the top of their board three different times?

Maybe one of them moves to safety, or maybe they're really dying to have a good corner at all costs.   I honestly wanted a TE, OT, or edge rusher, get bigger.   But they're going hard on team speed now, too.   Definitely, special teams will get better.

Compared to the other two, he's a guy who could play inside.   He's a tremendous player, and a good value.   But, at what point do they have enough?   Can you roster it all?   Carolina has five CBs going into the draft, and now has eight.  You might only keep 9 DBs.   One of these kids isn't getting a jersey.

A Quick 2-day Summation, With Fits

So, let's put some perspective on the first three Panthers picks and where they'll fit in this defense.

Naturally, when you think DT, you think stopping the run.   And Butler has been a good but not great pass rusher - you might even get fooled by that 5.3 40 and think he's not athletic.   But he moves really well.   His rush will improve.

So when I think about Butler, I remember late-game blowouts that became quick contests again, because the Panthers' pass rush was tired.   A lot of that rush came from inside last year, so you could see it.  The inside rush was tired.   It's easier to be tired at 325 lb than it is at 260.   Carolina had more quantity at DE but for all their quality at DT, not a ton of quantity in the end.

Then I also think about the corner issues through the year, related to those late-game comebacks.  I don't know if either will contribute a lot this year, but we'll talk of where they might.  First, Butler -

Compared to a lot of players in his class, Butler is remarkable because he has two-gap size (i.e., the ability to control the blocker and flow), but one gap ability.  I said way back two months ago he reminded me a lot of Kris Jenkins, both for the above and because of inconsistent pad level.

Unlike a lot of his peers, Butler is a two-way DT.  A lot of the DTs in his peer group were run stoppers, naturally, and you had to shove them at NT or in a 3-4.  Others, like Robert Nkemdiche, were essentially just 3-techniques (the under tackle).  

Butler can fit at either, providing versatility and ability to fit in anywhere.  That means you don't have to take him off the field to put another player in a particular gap, just as his run/pass ability means he's not just an early or late-downs player.    Dwan Edwards was a good rusher, but a passing game liability.

Short answer, the Panthers feel they can put him anywhere.  Maybe that even means a little end.

Not unlike a conventional-wisdom statement for Jonathan Bullard, it feels like Butler could play some base-end snaps.  Ron Rivera joked that Dave Gettleman felt he was a DE in style, and there's some basis for using a situational DE with a DT body.    Jarrett Johnson (Ravens, Chargers) was a DT playing 3-4 OLB, and Red Bryant did that in the Seattle 4-3 Over, which is essentially the same thing.   I think Butler is a little straight-line slow to spend a lot of time at DE, though.  I don't know if anythig does come of it.

For right now, I see both rookie corners playing outside.  I also don't know that I see either playing a lot right now.   Both have some raw ability, both have a speed upgrade over last year's CBs, and both obviously have what Rivera and Steve Wilks like in CBs - length, wingspan, aggressiveness.   But both have some learning to do,

I'd give the initial run to the vets, Bene Benwikere at RCB, possibly Brandon Boykin at LCB - with Robert McClain making the team again and possibly being the slot, or separately Boykin playing outside and then inside.   Carolina also mixed up Benwikere into some of Charles Tillman's outside snaps when he was the nickel.

So Carolina will probably carry the two rookies as backups, and start them out on special teams.   Of the two, Bradberry has a higher learning curve, so it may be such that Worley is more able to go early.   Worley was an outside CB in a base nickel defense, so he has more experience in the things that gave Josh Norman fits early - playing within the scheme.    Switching receiver responsibilities.   Playing more complex zones.

Worley might be more capable playing inside if Carolina needed, and he might be the better candidate if they decided anyone needed to move to S.   For now, he's a corner.    And so is Bradberry, who had been opposed to a move to S in college.

In the end, it's interesting that the three incumbent CBs all have nickel experience and that they drafted two tall outside corners.  I don't think it's unexpected, but it's interesting.

So in the end, it appears Carolina had a few nightmares about their late-game coverage after early leads.  They've taken steps to address it, now we just have to see how that'll unfold.

I Get it - I Like Names, Too

I spent a lot of time on this year's draft.  I didn't count whether I made it to 120 prospects, but I had to have been around there.   And by the third, I didn't have one of Carolina's picks.  I missed evaluating a guy who went top 80.

Like most, I had visions of the Henrys, the edge rushers, and some other names in my head early.   When I did James Bradberry I truly liked what I saw, and the fit, and his smarts.   I couldn't have possibly imagined he'd be the 2nd rounder.   I don't know if Derrick Worley was even on my radar.

I like the players.  I don't love the value, but some of that's also the shock.  I was expecting a name or two.

That's generally not how it happens, of course.  I loved 2007 as a draft because it had a lot of names I liked in the first three rounds.   I loved 2013 because they had finally drafted the guy I wanted, after a couple years of the first pick bringing initial apprehension (or tirades, one or the other).  

After that Star pick, they picked Kawann Short, who I had fully ignored in my process.   I wasn't at all thinking guard when they picked Trai Turner.  I'll fully own that I had apprehension about the Cam and Luke picks.   None of that makes them better or worse players, but those are four of our best players.

The fun thing is, how differently so many of you react to this.  Some, they could've called your name or your worst enemies' name, and you'd be ecstatic.   Some others, were going to hate it no matter what.    Some boards, forums, or comments sections speak of the eternal Gettlemagic, and I've been to a couple demanding Dave be fired.

I wouldn't have done what Carolina would've done.  And that's OK.   Vernon Butler is a tremendous player - I'd have taken Kevin Dodd, or maybe Jonathan Bullard (who went in the third, so what do I know).  I wouldn't have taken James Bradberry so early, and if someone really took Daryl Worley ahead of the 93 pick I'd have lived.

But I also know there's a solid chance these guys work out.   Carolina hasn't drafted corner this high in a long time - Benwikere was the last, two years ago, a 5th; Norman was a 5th four years ago.   Brandon Hogan was a 4 five years ago.  

The last 2nd or 3rd pick at CB?   Richard Marshall.  2006.

Carolina's had a drought there.

I can't say for certain that what they did will have worked, but I like Steve Wilks and Dave Gettleman, and I'm interested to see how it all unfolds.   In the meantime, being unhappy about it won't help.

Friday, April 29, 2016

So, The Rest

Carolina's done for tonight.

They won't pick again until 141, in the 5th.  

With that pick, of course, a lot will happen before then (I'm writing this at 93).   I assume based on interest they were into a TE or slot WR, they can still use a DE.

And an OL pick feels possible.

But now they only have two picks left.

Cleveland took QB Cody Kessler with the 93 pick, interesting.  But,  Carolina would've still had some interesting options.

While Carolina had 2nd round grades on both CBs they picked, I don't know for certain that one wouldn't have still been at 93.   Miles Killebrew, Nick Vannett, Pharoh Cooper, are still there, still interesting.   Harlan Miller is definitely still there, and they were supposed to have loved him.

I also still like Jeremy Cash, Deandre Houston-Carson at S.

77 - Daryl Worley

Another CB, I don't know him well.   Interesting for the double dip.

Trade was Carolina's 3, 4, and 5 picks for the 77 pick and the Cleveland 5th.

Worley, West Virginia, is a 6'1, 195 lb ballhawk.

Guess this is why Dave Gettleman laughed when they asked about drafting more than one corner.   I don't get the urgency to trade up, though.   And again I'm unsure of the value, but love the player.