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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

PFF: Top 100

Now that I'm going to assume they're done dealing with Carolina Panthers, let's discuss's 100 best.  A number of Panthers get their due here.

I enjoy PFF's grading.  I don't always love their commentary, especially because it ends up being too often a basic sourcing of

Here's Kuechly at #9.  Worth a read.  

They also have Thomas Davis at #38, Greg Olsen at #62 (again being under-rated for blocking, 2nd highest catch grade at TE), 86 for Charles Johnson (most QB disruptions at 4-3 end).

Not that surprising there, would love to have seen Cam Newotn on there but his middle 2014 really killed that chance.  Kelvin Benjamin was just not efficient enough.  Ryan Kalil was good, but not elite (which sometimes happens when you're the only solid piece in what was often a terrible line).

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Gearing Down: Post-draft

I'm mourning BB King, and the father of a dear friend.

I'm mid-May, haven't posted in 5 days but I'm at 51% of my yearly goal for posts (1/day) without an actual season on hand.  I took a few days for the above, and as a bit of a hangover for the more than daily posting I was doing (and honestly, forcing).   Now we enter the dark side of this moon - not much will really happen for a while.  Small snippets, at best, until camp.  I'm going to not generate as much, and in this case, I'm generating because there's nothing to read anywhere else.   I'm writing past the boredom.

Some things I liked recently? talks of our rookies, putting four in their top 100.  That stands to reason - Carolina got 4 good name players, and traded up for two of them.  Whether I love that in retrospect or not, and I'm not sure I do anymore than I loved the initial idea, I think they're great players (also, the missing player, David Mayo, should be an exceptional special teamer).

I'm not in love with Devin Funchess being the highest at 45, I guess - at a need, he fills that need both strategically and in ability.   But in the end, any player coming in is probably the 3rd best receiver on a team that historically doesn't throw in the top half of the league.

That gives value to Cameron Artis-Payne at 88, whose talent and fit for the team should put him higher, except for how Jonathan Stewart finished last year.  I'm still as excited for that pick as any, the only one they made I felt like I could've boasted I'd willed to happen.

Shaq Thompson's 58?   Not that I would actively complain - this has to be fairly arbitrary, and only so useful even if not.  But, it's an interesting exercise to react to it (I hope).  The need isn't there to suggest immediate impact.  You can, alternately, hope that his lack of full need also means he could be a missing piece - the staff absolutely talked like he was a needed specialist, not the weird pick that it (still) appears.   Absolutely, it's weird.  I had to talk myself into it.

But, you think about their fixation with the Seahawks.  Maybe you can keep gameplanning Russell Wilson, a not-great passer whose in-pocket protection isn't great but who has tremendous athleticism if he's either given time or can break contain.   You have a guy for that, Thomas Davis.  But, now you have Jimmy Graham, who most recently was milk-cartoned by previously stated warrior/OLB while with the Saints.  It was, of course, most glorious.   Now, I guess, you have two.   You have one for each situation.  You might have a Darren Sproles guy, and also that guy for Brent Celek.    Colin Kaepernick, and Vernon Davis, if you live in a world where the 9ers are competitive still (I don't).  

I'd said that the NFL's descent into constant spread play meant NFL defenses playing a lot of Man coverage, Man-1, and Cover 1 Robber.  I think Carolina has the best man coverage LBs in the league.  That may end up meaning something for a nearly-dominant defense that struggled with some of the most spread teams in the league (Philly, Green Bay are those teams based on last year, and gave up 35+ to each).

Daryl Williams at 48 is tremendous.  Carolina needing a tackle is tremendously understated, based on their overall actions.  And yet you still see people judge him as a guard.   I get that some draft analysts like to put powerful linemen at G instead, trying to cookie cutter every lineman into their ideal.   But, Williams doesn't exist in that vacuum.  Williams would be an exceptional guard in some ways, but here he's good enough to play OT.

He's better and more talented than essentially the field at RT, and possibly LT; one thing about guys that get pushed into guard is they get pushed inside for players that are good at OT.  It's not necessarily a failing to be a good guard.  Williams, in Dallas, might be a G.  Carolina doesn't have good OTs, so why do they think some ideal about what they think an OT should be, holds water?   Williams will probably make the field in 2015, and will inevitably brutalize left ends and left OLB in the run game.  Carolina's craving another guy like that.   He might give up a sack to Junior Galette, and he'll probably knock him down five times in the run game.

And, yet, Williams graded out better as a pass blocker than run defender last year.

So, I don't know.'s ranking was vapid, but it got me thinking nonetheless.

I hope to throw up a few more thoughts on draftees in the next few days.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Funchess Signs; All Players In Now

Devin Funchess signed his four year deal, bringing up the rear of the five draftees to sign their expected deals. 

It wasn't late, he was just last - all five are in early.

Five Tryout Signees, UDFAs

Carolina only had five draft picks, all told. 

But, after signing 10 additional undrafteds, they held tryouts for more spots. 

  • FB Lee Ward - Stanford.  So, pro style (the team drafted 3 kids, none of which really had pro style backgrounds, to my surprise).  5'11, 250, 35 x225, 4.85 40.  Rarely touched the ball, exceptional size for his position, tremendous blocker who could be in-line, too.  Would have to find a position on special teams. Was a Stanford captain.
  • TE Jamie Childers - a former Ram/Giant/Bill, a college QB who moved to TE for Coastal Carolina, same school as Mike Tolbert and teammate of Josh Norman.  6'4, 250 lb, solid blocker.
  • G Jordan McCray - 6'3, 332, has a massive wingspan.  Central Florida kid, practice squadder last year.  Some time last year in MN gives him knowledge of the system.
  • C Ronald Patrick - 6'1, 308, former Cowboys/Steelers practice squadder as an UDFA from last year, a two year SEC starter (South Carolina) at RG with power who needs to finish blocks.
  • DE Rakim Cox - 6'2, 268 lb edge defender from Villanova with athleticism, but is raw.

  • Ward is the only rookie, Childers the oldest of the group.  The rest are kids that were UDFA 2014 that didn't catch on but were practice squad worthy over time.  None have seen NFL game experience in the regular season.

    I don't believe I've actually discussed undrafteds yet - so here goes. All of these, obviously, as UDFAs, are rookies.

  • RB Brandon Wegher - pro-style from Iowa, 5'10 214 lb kid who did some stupid things off the field.
  • WR Damiere Byrd - South Carolina speedster with no bulk at all.
  • DE Arthur Miley - 6'6, 263 lb Southern University product.  Like Cox above, raw, but Miley has length that scouts covet, yet he'll have a higher learning curve.
  • DE Steve Miller- OSU product, 6'3, 255, one year starter with some untapped potential.
  • DT Darious Cummings - Florida prospect who came to minicamp overweight and got cut already
  • DT Terry Redden - Memphis product, 6'2, 292 and has played lighter.  Will have to show he can play the run head-up.
  • LB Brian Blechen - converted safety, hard hitter, instinctive. 
  • CB Garry Peters - highly touted by Ron Rivera as a player that should've been drafted.  A 4.6+ 40 guy who has to watch he's not too physical.
  • S Dean Marlowe - James Madison safety (6'1, 203) with a lot of physicality, but has to watch aggression (3 ejections, 2014, for targeting defenseless receivers). 12 INT career. Supposedly a highly touted free agent sought by half the league.
  • K/P Matt Wile - Michigan kicker with tons of leg but wavering accuracy

  • Saturday, May 9, 2015

    Winners, Losers of the 2015 Draft

    I loathe the concept of pre-judgement of outcomes and yet I'm compelled by some things that are in play now that Carolina has some new core players, or at least the assumption of core players.  So, here goes:

    *The Draftees - with just five, and two of them LB, the others fill definite needs.  They'll have to earn it, but it's there to be earned.

    *Ryan Kalil, Charles Johnson - two Hog Mollies with massive contracts, both could have a make or break 2015.  Both are on the downside of Marty Hurney contracts, which is to say five years have prorated and maybe they'll finally be a little less expensive in proration.  Neither saw draftees in their position groupings, so both probably live to see time through 2016.  Defensive end also has a year to grow around Johnson, specifically hoping Kony Ealy steps up, where an additional pick there might force them to go with nothing but the unknowns by '16.

    I like both, and both should stay, but ideally either could take a little less on the next renegotiation.  Getting either past high 2015 cap hits, that helps their longevity down the road (hopefully).

    *Cam Newton - it's never awful to see 60% of a draft dedicated to your abilities.  Two skill players and a needed lineman aren't so bad.  Another receiver that can adjust to whatever he throws at them, not bad either.  I can definitely see a remaining need at left tackle, but otherwise, this is the team I imagine they wanted.

    *Mike Shula - regardless of how you feel about Shula, you've gotta see him trending upward.
    If you think he's a talentless hack who got jobs only based on his name, the offensive additions could allow him to look better.  If you think he's not so bad (and that Ron Rivera wants this offense somewhat this way anyway), then he's definitely gotten more to work with this year.   Cam Artis-Payne and Daryl Williams will help the run game a good deal, and Devin Funchess will

    *AJ Klein - guy went from a mini-Kuechly, to seeing him compete for 2nd or 3rd SLB and 2nd or 3rd MLB.  He should make the roster, and who knows, maybe someone trades for him that has a need for an instinctive LB, but Klein's definitely not on his way up after the team chose not to re-sign Chase Blackburn (a move that seemed to signal good things for Klein, prior to this draft).
    I don't know if Carolina set out to replace him in such a concrete manner, but they did.

    *Jarrett Boykin - Definitely a better backup X receiver than Brenton Bersin, he's looking like a player that will really have to respond now that Devin Funchess is around.  Carolina is unlikely to outright drop Z receiver Jerricho Cotchery, who can also play the slot or play one of the bunch receivers opposite the usually isolated Kelvin Benjamin.  Cotchery, Ted Ginn can provide a sure-handedness and veteran ability that will probably round out the active roster, plus or minus Corey Brown.
    Nothing's for certain, but on paper, Boykin's size and ability are replaced (and then some) by Funchess.  You can say the same for Stephen Hill, I guess.

    *Michael Oher - hear me out on this one.
    Oher, in my mind, isn't a left tackle.  He's a stopgap player there, though I'd love to have him prove me wrong.  But, without a left tackle better than him on the roster, he can't happily play out his two year deal at RT.   They have a player in Daryl Williams that fits what they want in a RT, too.  So he's a bit stuck on the left side, and that's not ideal for him.

    Friday, May 8, 2015

    Three Draftees Sign

    I love the post-CBA situation with rookies.   The top ten don't get this ridiculous franchise-level playout from the drop, and players sign almost immediately.  Now, I'm not against the concept of player negotiation, either - and most fans tend to take an almost ambivalent stance toward the concept of football, which in a way with modern free agency (or in college, redshirts and early entries) is really just rooting for laundry.   The laundry belongs to the owner, and yet it's because of the players.

    Either way, holdouts are minimal at best, which is what I really want.  No bickering over offsets or voidable language or option bonuses.   Remember that Jon Beason held out over some of the last bit, the Panthers and Marty Hurney holding out somewhat over whether they'd pay two bonuses only years before it became standard, which gave us the odd feeling of watching a first round linebacker playing more or less a full preseason game.   Or Tshimanga Biakabutuka getting hurt a few games into a season he'd held out most of preseason.

    In the end, we just want to see guys in camp.   Even though we're about to hit the worst possible part of the year - between the draft and workouts, and camp.  Where nothing at all happens.

    But, with rookie camp happening starting today, Shaq Thompson, Daryl Williams, and David Mayo went ahead and took their checks.  3/5 already signed, so that's not awful.

    Wednesday, May 6, 2015

    What If- An Alternate Universe Draft

    It's fun to think about the what-if scenarios sometimes.

    At least, unless it becomes too bothersome, remember that none of this really changes much of anything.  But, if you were on the clock for Carolina, you probably would've done something differently even if you adore what Carolina actually did.

    After DJ Humphries went at 24, that put a lot of things into disarray.  There were a number of players picked ahead of there that could've easily made some sense, from Cam Erving to Cedric Ogbuehi, to Nelson Agholor.  No backs, either.  Humphries was the last first round lineman in my opinion, you could argue Jake Fisher (who ended up going at 53, to validate my concerns that it was too early for him).

    I know plenty of people were screaming for Breshad Perriman (tall, quick, awful hands and routes) here, others Phillip Dorsett - but I don't know.  Dorsett was definitely a reach, and Perriman was overrated there in my opinion.

    There was Byron Jones, that would've made some sense to me. I would've been accepting of Landon Collins.   I wasn't sure about Owamagbe Odighizuwa,  He ended up going at 74.

    I wasn't thinking about Shaq Thompson, the obvious eventual pick.  There were statements by Dave Gettleman that others wanted him around there as well, so I can't very well say he should've lasted to 57.

    Now we stretch a bit - Carolina traded up for Devin Funchess, so there's only so much point in saying they should've done __________ instead.  Yet, coming into 2 I was thinking Jaelen Strong.  That particular logic had a fair sized flaw - notably that Strong made it to 70, the 6th pick in the 3rd round.  I'd started to talk myself into Strong, I guess.

    Otherwise, Fisher at OT could've been an interesting LT, Jalen Collins was interesting.  Hindsight states neither would make it to Carolina's normal pick at 57.  Donovan Smith, a RT I really liked at 57, went at 34.

    This is a more heavy what-if - because of the rumor of 6 teams attempting to trade to 41.  Now, at one point there was a rumor that New Orleans was one of those teams, attempting to trade for Funchess, and they weren't one of the six mentioned.  So this is the concept of Carolina trading just the 2 and 3, and getting a consolation prize.  It's hard to say that somehow six different teams were dying for Funchess enough to trade up of course.  But, simplicity's sake suggests that we exclude him.

    Which again leaves Carolina more or less with Strong at WR, Fisher at OT.

    Carolina's given pick in 2, which they traded - so ths is, essentially, what would happen if they hadn't traded?
    Ty Sambrailo was there at OT, or the unstable Randy Gregory (who I assume was dropped from the list, and even if not, Gettleman has been clear he won't draft 3-4 guys). Odighizuwa, Strong.

    Rob Havenstein was there, and while I think Carolina could've dealt with him, I think that was a bit high.  Sambrailo is a better prospect, I hesitate to call his name there because he's a crummy run blocker.

    I think we know this one easily - the 3rd pick they'd already traded away for Funchess.
    Since Carolina went up to get Daryl Williams at 104, that's probably what would've happened.  It's easy to think of the upside of  TJ Clemmings, but Carolina outright passed on him to draft Williams.

    A guy I wanted at 89, David Johnson, didn't make it, and a lot of the other RB I liked had gone, too.

    There were people who wanted yet another WR after Funchess, which was crazy.  Carolina's already going to have to cut someone decent.  But, in a world where Carolina doesn't go get Funchess, Justin Hardy, Jamison Crowder, or Rashad Greene could've been fine by me at that point (the first two went in 4, Greene was picked in 5).

    104 has most of those same situations.  I won't re-cover it. It's probably useful, if you think of Williams as a 65-80 rated player at a position of need, to pull the trigger on him at 102.

    This pick makes a lot of sense to be the guy who went one pick later - Javorius Allen.  I thought he fit here very well.

    Nothing happened between this pick and 174 that would've made me want Cameron Artis-Payne any less.  I'd easily have swapped him and Mayo - at the very least - so 161 can make sense for him as well.

    I guess, if the above is for CAP< this could be Mayo at this pick, I guess.  DT/DE Michael Bennett would've been interesting.  Tyrus Thompson, Wiliams' line mate. Don't know.  I like Mayo the player more than Mayo the pick, where I'd have preferred almost anything over another RB and yet I don't have anything at these picks I'd really want.

    Maybe guys that went in the 7th - TE Ben Koyack,WR  Dezmin Lewis, TE Gerod Holliman, that could've made sense.

    With or without CAP, who I liked, I'd have wanted RB Tyler Varga, or tweener Zack Hodges, both ivy league utility players.

    I don't know.  There are some things it'd be interesting to tweak, but realistically Carolina could've done much worse.