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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Left Behind: Team Needs Unaddressed

Carolina piled on, as I anticipated in pre-draft analysis, in both passing game offense and special teams. They added to that by pushing passing game defense, with a DE, a rush LB, and three defensive backs. They, as anticipated, neglected the running game, but more than expected on the defensive side.

Having taken only one true defensive lineman, and no offensive linemen, the team strayed from beefy players. A 'team speed' draft, DE Greg Hardy was the only player over 250 lbs to be drafted. The defense was the only place to get any size at all - after Hardy and Norwood, QBs Clausen and Pike were next largest. The WRs did add size - Brandon Lafell and David Gettis add height and size to a team that only had two receivers over 6'.

But there's definitely a size issue. The team does have depth at DT, and they're looking for some of the youth to distinguish itself - Irvin, Leonard, Tyler, Johnson, Hayden, Landri. It's hard to say that the power is there, and they only have one player over 306 lbs at the position. It's by design, but the quality and depth are both still to be seen.

Similarly, plenty of pundits had the team adding more depth on the OL, and they neglected that completely for the first time since 1998 (they got Jamar Nesbit, an undrafted FA, out of that class). Four of the line positions are covered - the fifth is a battle amongst the top three remaining. So, seven positions of a likely nine are taken care of. Still, the team is in position in part because of an unrelenting push toward better line play.

Would a center have made more sense than a third WR, a third DB, a second QB?

They also left behind ILB, now suddenly a need with backup Dan Connor leaping into the SLB fight.

But comparatively, DT was a big problem last year, and it's hard to suggest with two starters gone, another top roleplayer gone, and the depth chart itself injured, that the team was able to stand pat as it did.
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