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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Munnerlyn V/S All Takers?

Captain Munnerlyn pays attention to rumors and, possibly, message boards.

So, in a contract year, Munnerlyn says that the corner talk has to stop, while making a ballsy but not necessarily wise display around his new position coach.

Munnerlyn is a one year starter, and struggled in that year despite being pretty decent in starting time in 2010 for a game or two. He's a valuable commodity, but at his best he hasn't shown worth a big contract, and I doubt he'll get one elsewhere. So is he your starter?

He thinks so, but the struggles suggest otherwise. Is he a good nickel corner who fits this defense well for his physicality, scrappiness, and even ability to blitz? Yeah, those things in my opinion are true. And with new DBs coach Steve Wilks likely to help make more changes than old DBs coach/new Chargers DB coach Ron Meeks (which is weird, but good luck Ron), Captain should be ready for the fight he says he'll win.

The end result is, and it's been well documented here, the DBs weren't good. And while we might be stuck with the safeties to a point, we only have loyalty to the CB who earned it - Gamble. Otherwise, Munnerlyn can earn the start, he can play nickel and return punts, or he can be a 4th CB who runs punts down.

Options?

So now that Munnerlyn has guaranteed himself competition for his job, what will Carolina do?

It might be something grand. But it's hard to say.

A week ago, you could say that Morris Claiborne or Dre Kirkpatrick might be there at Carolina's pick, but with the weed bust for Kirkpatrick, he's fallen while Claiborne has risen. I'm still fine with the physical, and possibly more talented, Kirkpatrick. In the second round you can still be festive at corner, picking up a Jannoris Jenkins or Chase Minnifield (though Minnifield's support has been wavering lately). Draft value will change a lot over time but corners tend to hold value; all of the above represent an upgrade and fit more what the Panthers will do long term.

Each of them fit the man coverage, disguise cover 3/6, zone blitz concepts that Ron Rivera and Sean McDermott will put together (you'd guess - there was a lot more man this year than expected, and who knows how this defense will evolve for the long term considering the pass threats in the NFL). Munnerlyn is a cover 2 guy who has experience and can play the slot WR, but just doesn't represent what the team appears to want - in my opinion, a 6'+, 210 lb+, physical corner who can hold his own and make plays.

Captain is a local guy with a funny name, so he's endeared here. But the outburst, swagger and all, sounds more like worry than legitimate confidence. Let's hope that Munnerlyn doesn't pay attention to metrics websites, we need him to have more confidence than that.

Now - that said, that should be all for defensive backs for a bit. What started as analysis of the DBs turned into numerous posts in a row on them, but the defense will get full coverage soon enough.
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