It's clear Carolina added beef, and needed to do so.
I admit I'm still a little surprised at the duo of DTs. I like it -
but it's not what I would have done. Various things are in play there -
one, the idea that Star Lotuleilei is looked at more as a nose tackle,
despite their claims of versatility for both he and Kawann Short. I
believe Lotuleilei was an ideal pick, in that he could fill the
immediate NT need but has the athleticism for both - and that he'd have
been a ridiculously good run stopper at the under tackle, which is
harder to find in a young player (really, in any player).
But, there's a lot of fruit to bear with the duo. Obviously, it builds
on strength on the DL; suddenly, if things go as they should, DT is as
great a strength as DE, if not more. The old adage about not being able
to double everyone is fine, if not a bit unrealistic; most players don't
dominate single blocking that often, and let's face it. Carolina went
through this in 2002-05 in various forms. When you have nearly elite
players across the front four, you dink and dunk on them. You don't let
the rush dominate you. It does provide a schematic and strategic
advantage to know what teams are going to want to do to you, certainly.
But, this should be helpful against the run, too. You have quick first
steps at DT, and guys that stay at home at DE. And, obviously, when you
can't run through the middle (it's a legitimate hope that Lotuleilei
will impact that), your LBs are more effective everywhere. So, dink and
dunk on 2nd after a one yard gain on first, and hopefully you get a
prototypical 3rd and 6. That's when DTs, and not being able to step up
in the pocket, provides dividends.
The OL didn't get quite the same boost, and who knows if Edmund Kugbila
is going to be able to contribute this year. He's there athletically
and physically; I think too much might get made out of his SAT issues.
He wouldn't be the first player to get pushed up the ladder for size by
the biggest schools, and for the first time in his life, someone is
putting scholastic pressure on him. But, chances are, Geoff Hangartner
and a host of other thinner-bodied center types play RG first.
Ideally, I like Kugbila to come into the game in special situations -
short/goal - as a tight end if he's not starting. And it might be a
year before that happens. Unlike Amini Silatolu, a very similar player
overall, Carolina isn't just going to have to plug him in. There's an
incumbent. So maybe they'll get to take their time on this one.
And while the last two picks got pushed between high value players, and
Kentwan Barner should be a beast in 2014 when there's finally room, it's
hard to say that the defense didn't get by far the better toys.
Speaking of room, if there isn't too drastic of regime change, AJ Klein
could be starting in '14 at SLB. There's a good chance that the team
could have to unload one OLB, and if the wrong turns happen, both.
Klein has Luke Kuechly's instincts (allright, almost), and while he'd be
a two-down guy most likely, he could really make things happen next to
Kuechly. If the team went 3-4, Klein makes for a natural ILB there, as
well. That duo, plus the two DTs, would provide an interior quartet
that would be low-cost for years.
*Carolina should be able to really solidify the A gaps and likely B
gaps as well. There's a strong corrolation between A/B gap run defense
and playoff ability, and a stronger one with playing sound
defense/having a good defensive ranking.
*Carolina may upgrade the pass rush. They were already pretty good,
and Dwan Edwards' sack numbers were somewhat inflated so there's a
modest numerical bump coming that'll likely be more spread around.
*The run game might get a boost from the guard and the back, but let's
wait until '14 to expect much.
*Carolina added good players, moreso than applying too much to need in