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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hardy’s Plans Affected Carolina’s?

Recent news on the suddenly muscle-bound Greg Hardy suggests that, since Carolina would certainly know about his progress, it would affect the draft.

In that, I suggest that the team didn’t “need” an end, but felt that a guy who could do it all would be beneficial.  Stop the run, add a little more rush.  That’s what you get at 9, compared to 104; a guy who should be able to do it all.   That guy would’ve been Quentin Coples, who was by all means the most talked-about potential draft pick at that slot.   So viewed in the filter of hindsight – in which we now know a lot more about Greg Hardy’s current condition – that may have made a difference. 

I’ve felt all offseason that Carolina had two starting ends, and that end wasn’t “the problem”.  DT and CB were much larger, but I did worry that things wouldn’t line up at those spots (they didn’t, certainly not at CB; they seem OK at DT oddly enough).  Hardy’s spotty run play was a concern, and so was depth, so I was interested in guys at 9 that added versatility (like Melvin Ingram, who’s able to play LB and is a better outside rusher) more than Coples, who seemed duplicative.  I was also interested in guys like Jared Crick, a long, stout left end who could take some of those run snaps off Hardy.  

At 300 lbs, Hardy doesn’t need to worry about coming off the field for the run at this point.  That level of perspective is the type information teams have that fans don’t, and I certainly didn’t have while advocating for a situational player Carolina apparently already had.

It does appear despite Carolina’s feeling that they took the best player each pick (as opposed to need), that they did do plenty of targeting at various picks.  If you can assume Carolina felt Kuechly was a higher need because Hardy helped lessen Coples’ or Ingram’s need here, there’s still a matter of depth – which is where Frank Alexander comes in.  Hardy in his current form becomes a part time inside rusher, too.  Alexander helps there, and creates hopefully the best part-time rusher since Al Wallace (or in retrospect given Pro Football Focus’ data on him, Charles Johnson 08-09).

If not, at the least they’ll still be better against the run with Kuechly and a more stout Hardy, along with their injury additions.  But creating Hardy as an all-purpose end places a lot of perspective on the draft. 
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