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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Secondary Shaping Up, Shifting Around

Carolina sat on its hands in the first few days of free agency, but
now, with just the smallest amount of resources, may have its secondary
finished.

CB Drayton Florence kicked things off. Yesterday, DJ Moore signed,
and in short order, SS Mike Mitchell was added. Then, Captain Munnerlyn
chose to stay. While none of them are incredible, there's a lot of
valid experience there. It appears the intent was always to have Moore
and Munnerlyn if able - Carolina's deal was a longer duration (if not

Along with Mitchell came the news that Charles Godfrey will flip over
to free safety. The move makes sense for various reasons - with Sherrod
Martin a free agent, Godfrey is the most athletic safety on the roster,
and has been the most experienced guy on the last line since 2010. Ron
Rivera cited good play at the end of 2012 at FS for Godfrey, when both
Martin and Haruki Nakamura had been hurt.

As a happy byproduct, the team likes DJ Campbell at SS, and that's
Mitchell's better fit. Unlike 2011, however, when Godfrey spent a lot
of time in the box, I wouldn't expect either player to spend too much
time close to the line.

Mitchell, however, might move up as a TE-covering specialist if he
doesn't start at SS; Oakland used both he and starter Tyvon Branch in
that form, covering the new wave of spread TE that spends as much time
as a split receiver as anything else. Teams have struggled to adjust to
that in the NFL - it's a tough matchup, and it often comes out of base
personnel, leading to what some have called the "big nickel" alignment.
It uses a 3rd safety instead of a 3rd CB.

So, that may be a consideration versus the Jimmy Graham, and apparently
Tony Gonzalez, matchups this year. It's not yet something Carolina has
shown a lot, but it's something the Giants have employed to success.

So, for now, this is what I'd consider a current lineup for the
secondary:

RCB - Moore, Florence, Norman

FS - Godfrey, Nakamura

SS - Mitchell/Campbell

LCB - Munnerlyn, Thomas

With this, I think Carolina has a solid 9. If a CB or S comes along
that can really improve you, then go for it. If not, I think you're
allright - you have two incumbent starters in Munnerlyn and Godfrey, and
three guys who've started here in the past to fight for the other two
jobs with three newcomers.

And, if it doesn't work, 6 of the 9 players are free agents next year,
and Godfrey becomes cuttable that year as well. So, if the inexpensive
route doesn't work, you've only lost time.
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