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Monday, April 29, 2013

Draft Philosophy: 2013

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.



Prognosis:
*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
any form.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Luckily, Gettleman Doesn't Trade

I posted the other day that Dave Gettleman was unlikely to trade.

But, some other team didn't get the memo.

Whoever was working the trade phone - something Gettleman has done in the past, and something that he's clear he wasn't doing this weekend, but I'll guess Mark Koncz - relayed that another team called in the 2nd willing to part with the pick - for next year's first rounder.

Let's just say Gettleman wasn't interested.  Thankfully.  So, for the first year since 2006, Carolina didn't make any draft day trades. It's the first year since 2008 that the team didn't finish the draft without dealing away a future pick.  Which is remarkable...both that it didn't happen, gunshy as fans can be about that, and that it happened so consistently on the back nine of the Marty Hurney era here.


Numerology: 2013 Draft

I noticed this unit has 3 All-Americans - the two DTs and Kenjon Barner.  Lotuleilei was the only first teamer.

But, this is more a random look-ahead to what numbers these guys might wear, and it might not be easy.

Lotuleilei wore 92 in college- currently worn by Dwan Edwards.  Kawann Short's 93 is Chase Blackburn's (though I doubt anyone's seen him in it, so it won't matter).  As a matter of fact, 96 is the only 90s number available.  70, 72, 74 are out there; 70 is the number Ed Kugbila played under.

For LB AJ Klein, 53 and 56 would be available; he played under 47 at Iowa State.

Kenjon Barner's 24 is Josh Norman's.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

2013 Draft: Aftermath

Carolina got bigger, and then at the end, a little smaller.

It was a necessarily utilitarian draft, and that's fine.  It was, for the most part, a value draft except for Ed Kugbila (who wasn't really worth a 4th).

But, consequently, it fell with different needs than I might have assumed.

For instance, TE, S, CB were spots I felt could use some help; they were unmet needs.  S, CB have bodies, but TE might lack a bit.  I felt like an OT with ability would've been smart with things in flux past 2013.


In summary- the team went from one good, aging DT to a three man rotation and a potentially very  strong front seven overall.  They compromised on the OL to get higher talent at lower top level experience, and then they got two guys who'll probably be ready to play a larger role in 2014.

6th: RB Kenjon Barner

Carolina didn't require another RB - they have three.  But they're all big backs.  Finally, Ron Rivera got his Darren Sproles type player.

RB and returner, and sometimes receiver.  Barner was a feature player in one of the best college offenses around.  The 5'9, 200 lb speedster looks to be best as a complimentary player, with a good change of direction and home run ability.

It's a bizarre pick at first, but it's the ability to add to the offense in the 6th.  That's rare this late in the draft.  Not all of the current RB will be here in 2014, you have to assume, and at that point, a guy like this could be a lot more valuable.

148: LB AJ Klein

Versatile LB AJ Klein comes off the board for Carolina in round five.

The instinctive LB has experience at all three spots.  The 6'2, 250 lb prospect threw up about 350 tackles in the last three years.  He has a nose for the ball, and while he might be a two-down prospect if playing, he's a player who should be productive in the future when given the chance.

It's an odd fit, with the team having LBs for the year.  Next year, of course, there could be cap casualties; there are free agents.


Instant Reaction:
I could've taken another OL or a safety here.  Carolina isn't drafting for need at this point, not that they ever were; they've chosen to trust their board and build depth.  That's what fifth round picks are for.

108. Edmund Kugbila, G, Valdosta State

3 picks, 936 pounds.

Hog Mollies.

Kugbila is a Ghanan prospect who excelled at the high school level and got commitments from various schools - Vandy, TN, and with interest from Alabama.   He couldn't make a high enough SAT to qualify for D1, so he played small school.

He's a big (6'4, 317) but mobile guard (a 5.36 40 betrays his lateral athleticism).

If it sounds like Amini Silatolu, you're 100% right.  He doesn't have the snuff-film type game tape that Silatolu did, but he's still a big bully who has good feet, had good workouts, and will probably have to spend some time adding experience.


Instant Reaction:
I wanted Barrett Jones, who would start now.  Kugbila should start soon, and will be physically more interesting, but smarts might be an issue.

My only real beef with Kugbila at 108 is value.  I don't see that being a great value.



 Summary:
Tons of linemen, and I'm OK with that, so far.  A trend that only one was American born, but I don't care about that.

108: The 4th, preliminary work

There will definitely be pressure to add something offensive.

After dropping two DTs in the first two rounds, it will be a tougher argument to supplement the defense again this time.

The biggest need on the depth chart at this point is TE - where the team realistically has two guys (Greg Olsen, and blocker Ben Hartsock, depending on how you feel about sometimes-fullback Richie Brockel).  A 2nd TE wouldn't hurt at all.   But at 108, a lot of the steam seems to have come out of TE - notably losing Jordan Reed, the smallish Florida product.

What remains?  the massive Nick Kasa, a 6'8, 270 lb Colorado guy who's mostly there for size; similarly, the shifty Joseph Fauria from UCLA has a lot of size.  Those are my guys, but those aren't necessarily the highest rated guys, either.  I don't think great value is there at 108.

The more pressing of the two needs, to me, is OL.

A tackle is almost always better value, and Oday Aboushi from Virginia fits that bill. He's a natural LT, and that might not be the immediate need, but it may allow the team to move some things around long term.  David Quesenberry is an athletic guy as well - potentially more athletic. But he's also a guy who could play guard in the meantime, with a good nasty streak and a wide frame.

Barrett Jones isn't just a center.  I keep hearing that.  He's played LT in the SEC; he's played guard.  I like him for verstatility, but he's also a somewhat natural right side player.  At this spot, he'd probably find himself starting at RG again.  Carolina doesn't really need a center, they need an upgrade on Geoff Hangartner.

The last spot I could see something?  Safety.  I could see them grabbing a competition player for Mike Mitchell, and the entire secondary is essentially on a one year deal for non-rookies.  That includes the very cuttable FS Charles Godfrey.  Corners are on one year deals, but at this point it's all competition to stay.  S, they've only really brought in one new guy.

So, plenty of options at S right now.  Probably through the 5th, too.  Zeke Motta is a very interesting football player, who makes some sense to fall since he's not special athletically.
If you can get some of the over-aggression out of him on playaction, Duke Williams is athletically the real deal and has 4 years started at a rising program in Nevada.  Phillip Thomas has FS style ballhawking skill as a SS.

Friday, April 26, 2013

End of 2: OL Still There

Carolina doesn't pick again until 108.

Here's what we know:
*Star Lotuleilei is the nose tackle
*new 2nd round pick Kawann Short is going to rotate in at under tackle and probably rush inside some on nickel


The second round is ending

We're done for the night.
Dave Gettleman stated there would be no trade ups, so Carolina would pick next at 108, at best.

With those two things in mind, there are some positions I'd prefer to take off the board.  We don't really need picks at these spots:

*WR - at this point, outside of a falling Keenan Allen, I don't know that there's anyone who'd be more than a body.  I don't know that Allen keeps falling.
Whoever would be picked at WR, is at best a 4th guy.  That guy would play 100 snaps, maybe catch 10 balls.
*CB - Carolina has bodies here.  There shouldn't be starters left.


So that leaves:
*OL - the biggest need, right side players specifically
*S - a negotiable pick, since the Panthers have one starter, and have the other incumbent (Haruki Nakamura) to fight with the new guy (Mike Mitchell).
*TE - the team needs a good 'move' type TE as depth

44: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue

Carolina eschews the OL for another DT.

Kawann Short is a fairly athletic DT from Purdue: 6'3, 300.  He has a good reach (34.7" arms) and ran a solid 5.09 40.


Short was a two year Captain at Purdue, and a 2nd team All American.

He's billed as being a potentially incredible DT, who has an inconsistent motor.  Obviously, the Panthers have age concerns on Dwan Edwards, who's 33.


UPSIDE?

Carolina likely won't be run on.  They have longterm defensive tackles, assumedly, for the first time in forever.  There's contingency in place for Edwards' phasing out.

DOWNSIDE?

There were other DTs I liked more personally (Jesse Williams, who was mostly a NT, but who is athletic), and I preferred an OL by far over another DT at this point.

44 pre-pick

Warford, Jones, Jonathan Banks would be ideal here.  Let's see what happens.

edit - Banks to the Bucs

Philosophy at 44

I'm overthinking this for the ideal of a pick that still has up to 12
hours to materialize, but the Panthers' 2nd pick, 44th overall, has me
excited. After grabbing Star Lotuleilei, it's that rare feeling that
anything is somewhat possible thanks to the failure of other teams.

So, at 44, I don't think it's a surprise that I'm thinking OL. And
that's where the philosophy comes into play.

In my opinion the choice, should the Panthers have just such a luxury,
would be between UK's Larry Warford and Alabama's Barrett Jones.
Depending on who you ask, Jones isn't rated that high, but he's the
other right guard I'd consider.

Warford is the massive RG you might expect at this level. He's
athletic, but he's a pure drive blocker. Jones, who some say is
limited athletically, is more the zone guy (but still, don't sleep on
his drive).

Jones wasn't too athletically limited to win the Outland as a left
tackle, and if he'd stayed there and not been hurt at center, he'd
probably be off the board. And two of his teammates, DJ Fluker and
Chance Warmack, didn't even make it to Carolina's 14 pick.




I'd be more than happy with either guy. Neither is specifically that
deficient at anything - it's not "draft the massive meathead, or draft
the unathletic smartypants." But it does offer a divining point on
what type lineman you want there, if both are somehow available.

No Trades

Dave Gettleman often invokes the name of Marty Hurney.

He hasn't demonized his predecessor, and there are times within the
community where that's a rarity.
Because, let's face it, in most ways, Hurney did things in accord with
what the team as a whole wanted.

But the later trades really ran counter to that. So, that part I won't
miss.

Hurney's offseasons generally worked well when the team trusted its
board, and picked right. Case in point, landing the league's most
productive end duo in the 3rd and 6th rounds, respectively. Charles
Johnson and Greg Hardy are working out allright, you might say.

And it was a disaster when Hurney couldn't abide by that board, and
forced his own hand. Same scenario - picked in a year between those two
productive ends above, sending a future 1st for another end, Everette
Brown. Three of the last four future-pick trades have netted nearly
nothing - you have the Jeff Otah trade as the gem of that bunch, though
it's not really Hurney's fault specifically that Otah didn't stay
healthy.

After Armanti Edwards ages out, the team will have only Frank Alexander
to show for all the trading, and if Hardy signs the big deal he should,
Alexander will only be a situational part of the pie.

It doesn't make it any better that it's rumored that Hurney wanted to
trade up for Jimmy Clausen once he made it to the top of the 2nd in
2010. It could've outright killed this franchise, if true.

So, let's hope that Dave Gettleman, who seems to have no part of the
future-pick trading business, sticks to that philosophy. Let's hope he
sticks to his board.

More Lotuleilei Gushing. and an aftermath

I saw a consensus "Top 254 listing" that had Star as the consensus 6th player overall.

It used 18 sites, most of them reputable.

6th player overall at 14.   So I'm kinda happy about that.  Again, I had this kid as the best defender in the draft.  I don't know how anyone can put tape of Star and Dion Jordan up against each other and make the choice for Jordan.  But someone did, so I'll shut up and live with the better player.  Thanks, Miami.

Also, while leaguewide Loeuleilei checked out just fine, I'm personally somewhat pleased with new GM Dave Gettleman saying "I'm not a doctor".  That's been my rallying cry on Star, myself.

Coincidentally, that list has, around 44, Terron Armstead (who I mentioned last post), WR Robert Woods, and Johnathan Banks.


For what it's worth, Joe Person suggests that the other two players that Dave Gettleman had considered at 14 were Tyler Eifert and Xavier Rhodes.  The "3 players" part comes from Gettleman himself, but he didn't disclose his own board.  That, of course, suggests that Sharrif Floyd wasn't a part of the discussion.  Floyd fell into the late 20s.

Gettleman turned his card in within 30 seconds, so clearly need was an adequate tiebreaker (or they had Eifert and Rhodes too high).  He definitively says that he wasn't going to consider a trade.   So I don't guess it really matters who else they had high - they made their pick.



I'll also reiterate - and gloat - everyone that worried about the WR spot.  Carolina worked out SO MANY WR. 10, I think, more than any position otherwise.  Carolina was one of TWO teams to workout Lotuleilei. Thank you, Carolina.  Thank you.  I don't have any way around it - it's been a hard day with celebratory drinks.   I like my picks like I like my women- thick but athletic.  No way around that one - I'm happy with this pick.  On to 44.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Now What? An Early 44 Look

With Star Lotuleilei off the board and on his way to Carolina, the first round is slowly ticking off.
(By the way, I love that new GM Dave Gettleman waited less than 30 seconds to be on the clock and decide.  It took me off guard, and it's the first time in team history they actually picked the guy I wanted).


  There have been a few surprises since - like Sharrif Floyd falling, and EJ Manuel being picked by the Bills.

But, a lot of my 2nd round ideals are still there.  My targets are intact.

But the OL has taken a hit.  Larry Warford and Barrett Jones are there, but it's hard to say there's a lot else. Tackles have gone.  Terron Armstead (Ark Pine Bluff) is the next guy, and he's a project.

The DTs took a hit, but now Jesse Williams is the lone remaining first round-type DT left.  I don't know that they'll take another DT, but Ron Rivera did say on his presser that they quietly might still look for a young 3-technique.

At CB, 4 guys have gone (Milliner, Rhodes, Hayden, Trufant).  Johnathan Banks makes a lot of sense at 44.

There's actually been a short on receivers - only Tavon Austin (and TE Tyler Eifert) have gone (EDIT - now Cordarelle Patterson, mercifully, has gone so he won't be going to Carolina, either).   Eifert going keeps him off 44, but I don't know if Zach Ertz at 44 is right.

Star Lotuleilei: INSTANT REACTION

A natural at NT or UT, Star Lotuleilei was the best defender in the draft, in my opinion.

He's a powerful interior defender that makes a perfect fit inside Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy at end, and next to penetrator Dwan Edwards at the other tackle.  He's the type guy you need in front of Luke Kuechly longterm, and honestly, it's just a sorely missed need.  

The team had the 3rd rounders from 2011, but that hasn't worked. They haven't put a higher pick than that since Kris Jenkins - and this is actually the first time Carolina has picked an interior DL in the first (2nd DL in the first in history, 3rd in the top 60).

But here, they appear to have a true disciple of the interior rush, and a guy who'll beat a block against the run.   Ron Rivera hasn't had a DL of this caliber since the #1 defense in San Diego.

So, that should help.  As I hoped, need and value came together for an ideal pick.  This is an immediate starter.

14th Overall:Star Lotuleilei, DT, Utah

The big man with a big heart comes to Carolina.

Star Lotuleilei fell to 14, but falls no further.

Defensive Tackle Sheldon Richardson went right before their pick, but Carolina was undaunted.  They got their man in Lotuleilei.

Two Picks Left

And no DTs are off the board.  This is crazy.

Six OL gone, though.

Through pick 7; Craziness

Two tackles to start, 3 out of the first four - but that's the normal part.

Dion Jordan was very surprising to me at 3, and for a trade up at that.  Barkevious Mingo at 5 doesn't hurt Carolina either.  Jonathan Cooper is the 4th OL to go, and ahead of Chance Warmack.  Then the Rams trade up for Tavon Austin.

Craziness.

Draft Day: Scenarios

You don't get to make picks with hindsight. It's a universal truth.
But, you can mock where you think guys will go (last year, Marty
Hurney's entire draft appeared to revolve around targeting various
players at different levels, culminating in the trade that sent this
year's 3rd away).

This will be a potential exercise in dissuading a WR pick, certainly.
But it's simply a way of showing that you have to make choices, and that
principles can go out the window when you demand that a luxury comes
first in the grocery bag and your credit's low.

Using this as a guide:
http://gbnreport.com/top100.html
and projecting those values as actual picks, the ideal is to choose
only from what's behind your pick (i.e., you pick 14, you see Chance
Warmack was "taken" at 7, so picking him is not an option) without
necessarily looking to see who makes it to 44. So, each pick you see
at 44 is technically uninformed. Each scenario will list in groups of
picks, but I won't know what I can pick afterward.


Scenario 1, OL-first
14. DJ Fluker, RT - I'm most convinced this will be where we go, for
now. He'll be there, he fits, he provides high value compared to FAs
and he has a nice mix of supplanting strength with filling need.
44. Jesse Williams, NT - ideal to have him fall. I love the
rugby-backgrounded Williams, a strong, tough, fast NT who could be a
terror and who I have higher than this.
108. TJ McDonald, S - I like McDonald (or the more SS-styled Shawn
Williams) here for size/speed and decent instinct. Either would have a
year to make something happen.
OR
Jordan Reed, TE - a 'move' TE in the Aaron Hernrndez mold.
(OR Akeem Spence, DT; Alvin Bailey, G; Leon McFadden, CB - any of those
make sense)
OVERVIEW: I like it. is it big school heavy? Sure. It's safe, too.
It would make Carolina a better team, though, no question.

Scenario 1a, OL-first
14. DJ Fluker, RT - Since this is a likely pick, I wanted to duplicate
this to have two options in the second.
44. Johnathan Banks, CB - if you ignore NT from scenario 1, Banks is
similar to Xavier Rhodes in lankiness, and Banks is a ballplayer, but
the difference is he's still growing into himself (needs bulk, and plays
high, not as physical). They have a year to get the puppy out of this
top-matchup kid.
108. Akeem Spence, DT - squatty NT who has to pull pad level down.
OVERVIEW: Decent value. Some worry at NT.



Scenario 2, The One Steve Smith Will Be Volatile About
14. Codarelle Patterson, WR - this is tougher without it being Tavon
Austin, everyone's flavor du jour. There's plenty to like about
Patterson as a prospect, but he'll probably only help you minimally
(he'd be a 4th option at WR, at best, so you're probably getting 100
snaps/10 catches out of him).
44. Jesse Williams, NT - a vital need.
108. Chris Faulk, OT - decent motor RT with massive size, bt is a
wildcard since he has legitimate health issues. You have to take an OL
here, if you go luxury, then DT.
OVERVIEW: Relies a bit on luck, and doesn't look so productive at
first.


Scenario 2a, The One Steve Smith Will Be Volatile About
14. Codarelle Patterson, WR - another run at this one, to mock out the
2nd and 4th another way.
44. Larry Warford, G - a plug-in RG. It's tough to have to choose
between OL and DL for the luxury of Patterson.
108. Spence - you're getting a more limited NT because you're moving
need down the list.
OVERVIEW: I almost like the other one better. Williams/Warford could
be a wash but Faulk has more upside.



Scenario 3, The Obvious
14. Sheldon Richardson, DT - it fills a need in a lot of ways and so
many internet sources just put the guy here. Provides plenty at UT, not
a lot at NT.
44. Warford - it just makes sense behind a DT pick, to pick the OL. A
CB pairs well, you can
108. See 1a. You have options (including another OL or DL, or new
needs) because you provided the greatest need/value combo. This option
probably does still shade a NT higher on the list.
OVERVIEW: Flexible for the 4th, which is ideal. I still have
reservations on Richardson's consistency, but not effort obviously.


Scenario 4, The Cloud
14. Xavier Rhodes - an impressive cover guy, he fits Ron Rivera's
personal MO at corner. He'd replace what Chris Gamble was, add size,
and so on.
44. Jesse Williams - still could be Warford, but I like the NT more.
108. Alvin Bailey, G - you probably still need the guard here with this
combo.
OVERVIEW: I like this more than I expected. Wouldn't complain.


Scenario 5, The Wildcard
14. Jarvis Jones, OLB/rusher - not a lot of people pushing this as an
option. A 3-4 nod, this would be the type thing that could also mean
pushing Greg Hardy inside sometimes in base defense. Makes Carolina
light and fast, and there's a couple of Giants analogies (Matthias
Kiwanuka, and adding more DEs whenever possible). But, it's weird
nonetheless. Jones can play legit 4-3 LB at times too, but let's say
that's covered for the moment.
44. Warford - this time, you more or less have to go OL (Jones isn't
going to help you stop the run like Williams, but he does move a guy
inside, so any NT is definitely going to have fewer snaps)
108. Spence (or maybe Montori Hughes, since you can take a greater
chance) - the DL roleplayer you want here.
OVERVIEW: I'd be shocked, but I like the potential (a fast penetrator
outside for zone read is intriguing, as are the pass D options).




So it's a delicate balance, and absolutely, it's need based (and
doesn't look so far in the future). But, it's harder to find that BPA
early doesn't tie your hands later.

Apologize for the lack of input on a 5th rounder. I don't know those
guys as well, but based on this list, who I'd prefer in that range would
be
*David Quesenberry, OT (very athletic at combine) or Reid Fragel, OT
*Nick Kasa, TE (massive, but quick)
*Joe Kruger, DE
*Earl Wolff, SS
*Kwame Geatthers, NT (tons of size, good pedigree, project)

I don't even pretend to know if those are truly realistic values. I
picked the GBN list without a look - sure, in some cases the value is
weird. Of course, if everyone knew exactly how the draft will go - and
it absolutely will shock some people tonight - you'd be able to do this
much better. But no one knows that.

I also used 44 as a constant. I used it as a need. It doesn't have to
be that way - you could pick Fluker or a DT, 44 as a luxury, then 108 as
a need again - but the value wasn't there for WR (Keenan Allen went, and
Stedman Bailey would be fine after, but I just didn't feel that). So
it became a question of "Do I pick BPA at 14, or at 108?" based on these
scenarios. Clearly, you're going to have better players to choose from
at 14, so BPA is a better philosophy there. But it comes at a cost.

Draft Day: Needs

Today's the day (or the first of 3, obviously).

Some kid's going to become the newest Panther, a potential star, and
nearly instant millionaire (that wait for May/June contracts must be a
bear, I don't care if they do allow you loans on it). The Panthers
stand behind their Best Player Available (BPA) philosophy for this
draft, but the hope is, they'll fill legitimate needs this weekend.

I have grazed over my own wants, but haven't really tabled how I see
this team at this point. I'll be doing this by perceived need, not from
front to back:

Crucial Need:

*DT
The team has no legitimate starter at NT, and under tackle is manned by
the 33 year old Dwan Edwards. Sure, the team can move a guy inside from
DE on passing downs for UT, but you certainly don't get to those easy
passing downs that way either. So, this is a spot that the team could
burn two picks and not overdo things. You have to stop the run in this
division, especially if you want to do the weird things that DC Sean
McDermott and head coach Ron Rivera like to do on those deep passing
downs.

*Right Side OL
Jordan Gross is still fine on the left - he could play the right if
needed. Amini Silatolu, improving in many ways, still has time. But
the right side, where Geoff Hangartner and Garry Williams appear to be
slated to fight for RG - is awful. Byron Bell is a good run blocker and
didn't give up a lot of sacks, but had struggles with the deeper ball.
Bell should probably find his way into a starting spot regardless, but
an early pick might redefine where that would be.


Roleplayer Need:
*TE
Carolina has this as a sleeper need. They have Greg Olsen, a
cornerstone. Olsen played 98% of snaps at TE, a pretty remarkable clip.
They don't need a 2nd guy to be another Olsen - he's young, he's
impressive, and having another one of him would be prohibitively costly.
But, could they pull up a guy with size and groom him? Absolutely.
They do need a 2nd guy, and Ben Hartsock is just a blocker. So this
isn't as much a future need, as it is a 2nd guy who can provide at least
one of these traits in excess - size or speed. Could go either way.
Doesn't have to be a complete player.

Wildcard Need:
*CB, S
Carolina has stockpiled roleplayers here, almost to a fault.
Competition could provide the starters - maybe two of the three nickels
Dave Gettleman has signed can start, maybe not. There's talent and
depth at corner. There's not a complete player among the group, so a
6'1 corner with long arms is probably still on Ron Rivera's wishlist.
Same at safety, they have one spot up for grabs with three potential
starters vying for it. But if the right guy came along - probably a SS
based on Charles Godfrey's move and acquiring Mike Mitchell(a bigger SS)
- the team could make an argument for upgrade. Like at CB, there isn't
a need for depth, they have bodies. But without a clear starter yet, if
you can find one, great.

The future is in need here too - all the acquisitions are one year
deals, and Godfrey himself becomes cuttable in a year.


Future Need:

*WR
I have this low. I know plenty will disagree. But, the crux of most
WR arguments settles around Steve Smith and his age. If you wanted to
argue that Brandon LaFell and the other expected top 5 in the depth
chart outside Smith are free agents, feel free. But for now, it feels
like they have guys they want. A high-value player provides a good
future, and the various short-term vets do allow the team to cultivate a
young player. They do have young players - so anyone new coming in has
to be dynamic - but there's just not room, and there are many needs.


*DE
I have this low, and only this high because you never know on a BPA
guy. The starters are obviously top notch, and I really like backup
Frank Alexander. Thomas Keiser is topped out physically, but there's
something to like about him too. A best-player after the first could
provide insurance on Greg Hardy's contract at the end of the year. So
do you worry about who starts here in '14, or take care of a ton of
needs before then?

*Left Side OL
Gross' new contract gives him two years. Bruce Campbell isn't an heir
apparent at this point. Amini Silatolu could use a push. This is a
late-round thing, but likely pushed to next year.

Low priority
*ST Specialists
Graham Gano and Brad Nortman are middling players. There aren't enough
resources to really impact this for now, and if so, would likely be
preferred for vets. Return duties and coverage should be fine, and most
of those guys are back after finishing 2012 strong.

No real need:
*QB, RB, LB.
I could see a BPA LB because this team is LB crazy, but if they're
happy with their current stable of LBs (which has a reigning rookie of
the year and 5 fullly vested vets), there's not a lot of room. Any
rookie would be for flexibility for next year's potential cuts. But,
like QB and RB, what happens next year is next year, and any of these
jobs would be backups then as well.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

AN OL Pick?

This time last year I was resigned to an OL pick, wanting an edge rusher (but not necessarily Quenton Coples).

This year, I think I'd prefer one.  And then, who knows, maybe another.

RT DJ Fluker seems to be an ideal match for Carolina.  He's not as good as Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher, or Lane Johnson, and he's not a left tackle.  But he's definitely as good a right side player as you can have this draft.  And that's where they need the greatest help.

With that said, it's a fair bet that G Chance Warmack will be there, too.  If not, Jonathan Cooper should be still.

And right now, I find that a lot more palatable for this team than a remarkably small WR (Tavon Austin), or even worse, the tons of guys under him that are bigger, but kinda dumb and definitely underdeveloped.

This is all kinda re-hash, but until recently I still expected a DL first.  Now, it seems unlikely.  Just a feeling.  That said, I still love the potential of a NT in round 2.

Recent rumors (Jason LaCanfora, Eric Weidl) do link the team to Star Lotuleilei, who by some other reports is sagging in the ratings.  Lotuleilei (and consider I'm not a doctor) is an ideal pick for Carolina, and the best defender in the draft in my opinion.  He'd fit at NT or UT, and that'd be an almost storybook cornerstone to add in front of Luke Kuechly.

That's if he's healthy.  I don't think it'd be ideal to have a top draft pick die on them.  I don't know if it's that serious, but hopefully they know.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Rumor/Daydream

There's a rumor out that San Francisco is actively interested in trading into our area (12-15) in the first round.   It's probably bogus, but I'll bite.

For SF to do this right, by the draft value chart, they'd be giving up just a little value to give up the 31 and 33 picks.  Which, a team that wants to trade up, gives up a little value.  Just ask Marty Hurney.

Now, why would Carolina do that?  Need.  There are a couple parts to that, actually.

They need an extra pick, since they don't have a 3rd.  31, 33, and 44 make 3 picks in the top 50, which is more than fine by me.  Do you get one stellar player?  No, but you get an extra above average player for your trouble.  That's up to three starter level guys at once.

And that's where the other end of need comes in.   They're staring down what might be fairly ill-fitting need players.  NT, for right now, might be the lower value position at 14, but it's the bigger need for the moment.  And the under tackles at 14 are eager run stoppers, but they're not going to be mistaken for elite run guys.

But near 31, maybe Alabama's Jesse Williams is there.  Or UNC's Sylvester Williams.  I've seen both higher, but I don't know that both are going to be gone.  If so, you can always wait to 44 and grab John Jenkins, Jonathan Hankins.  Or just pick one of those guys at 33.

At 31/33, there's also a better value at guard.  Are there two potentially fantastic LG at 14?  Sure.  Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper are definitely better prospects than Larry Warford.  But not exponentially, and Warford looks more like a natural RG. Where the team's in need greatest, in my opinion.

If Carolina could fill two beefy needs in the top 33, then 44 becomes a wide open pick.  Which, right now, 14 and 44 are both picks that the team can't really afford to be 'cute' with.  But fill two needs in the top 33 - essentially two first round picks - and you're in business.  Keenan Allen?  Stedman Bailey?  Maybe a TE.  Why not?

Darrelle Revis Now A Buc

Former Jets CB Darrelle Revis is now a Buccaneer, strengthening the Bucs' secondary.  Not unlike the Dashon Goldson acquisition, Revis is a risky, high cost choice that will make them better, but that will also cost them dearly.

In this case, $16 million a year, their first pick, and a high pick next year.

This impacts Carolina another way - the 13 pick that's involved in the trade is now the Jets', and it's hard to say what they'll do.  They're short on defense, and definitely have a hole at CB now.  They have tons of needs - and even with a lame duck Rex Ryan, who knows.  You could see them pick a QB.  They need a WR.  So they're now a total wildcard.  They could pick anything, where the Bucs needed an end and the rest of it more or less flowed at Carolina's needs.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Kenny Vaccaro relating to Mark Barron, and What Rivera Really Wanted

There's been a groundswell of support for Kenny Vaccaro lately.  The Texas safety is a ballplayer, there's no doubt.  I'll disagree with him being the pick at 14 in a second.

But part of the backing on that was that supposedly the Panthers would've picked Alabama safety Mark Barron at 9, had he not gone before Carolina to Tampa.  I even remember hearing that myself, right before Tampa's pick.  I didn't believe it.

I feel right not to, now.  Ron Rivera, talking on WFNZ, denies that with Mark Barron.  More to the point, he states that Luke Kuechly was their target, followed by Quentin Coples.   Rivera singles out Coples to play 3 technique, which I find interesting.  Obviously he would've played 5 technique as well, in 3-4 sets; he would've moved around.  You could probably have found him at LDE some, as well.   Coples, a UNC alum and local kid, was the major focus of people in this area around the draft - and looking back at my own nonsense here, it's clear that it was an ideal of picking him or not picking him, moreso than much about anyone else. I didn't see Kuechly coming, though certainly you can't be unhappy with it.

For what it's worth, Coples was a decent starter last year, and he had 5.5 sacks for the Jets (though 1.5 came against SD, 2 against IND, so there wasn't consistent pressure).  No idea how he'd have done at 3 technique, though Carolina did just fine with Dwan Edwards.

So, now, onto Vaccaro.

Barron was a part of a top run defense for Tampa; he was a part of one of the worst pass defenses in Tampa.  He shut down Carolina's run; he also let them have yards when they needed it in the air.  Vaccaro isn't Barron, but he's similar.  He's a decent box defender and run guy, who's not great deep right now and doesn't have a ton of experience back there.  He's not a FS-style player.  He's not a ballhawk.   It's obviously important that players not only be Deon Grant, and given the choice, most coaches would as rather have the run support guy.  But this is at 14, and I don't know about that flawed a guy that high.  

Given the choice of him, versus the corners there (Dee Milliner gone as expected, you might get a shot at the long, lean Xavier Rhodes.  After that, it's muddied, but the big Rhodes on the outside would definitely be the cornerstone of a revamped secondary.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Six Days And Counting

We're within a week of the draft at this point. And right now, I'm
clueless as to what to do.

I've got two points of data to change my outlook - a feeling that
Sheldon Richardson might not be right for us, and a feeling that NT
might work better in round 2 that pushes the feeling more toward CB and
OL in 1, if it's a need-based pairing of expectation.

Which it won't be. It'll be best player available for need. And Dave
Gettleman's presser yesterday kinda pushes that. But he discourages me
on a high CB pick - not that he wasn't dancing around need, or that he
was going to telegraph his intentions.

My thought process on CB, specifically, was that one of the things Ron
Rivera loves in a CB - height, arm length - is somewhat missing with DJ
Moore coming in and Captain Munnerlyn returning. Both will be heavily
involved - it appears the team wants those two and Drayton Florence as
their top 3 guys coming in. A Xavier Rhodes pick at 14 would provide a
starter.

At DT, it does appear Sharrif Floyd and Star Lotuleilei will be gone.
I'm much more interested in Lotuleilei; he could do time at NT for the
short term and still provide impact. Floyd, compared to Richardson, is
shorter but doesn't get better leverage, and his arm length means that
pro Gs will get into his body a lot more often (where he struggles
more).

Richardson feels like a good pick in a lot of ways, and should be
there. Most mocks have him in contention for us, if not outright picked
by us. He's tall, good arm length, ridiculously athletic and fairly
strong. But, pad level is an issue; he's got a fantastic motor, but
specifically against Alabama he had struggles with leverage. Being
great at running around with the ball in flow is great, but I would want
a stouter player right now. He has a lot of ability against the run
and fits the one-gap (he's great with a first step getting on a guard's
shoulder), but honestly, I almost feel like he's a better option as a
5-technique DE or a 7-tech (4-3 end, though obviously left end; his 4.7
40 at a bigger size, first step, and pursuit ability really make him a
great situational player who feels as good on the edge as anyone), but
he could get run on head-up in the wrong situations.

Past that, I have worries about any 3-technique guy at 14. I feel it's
a need - Dwan Edwards is all the team has anywhere at DT far as I'm
concerned - but there's also a legitimate need at NT that has to be
filled right now, and run D is worse than pass D right now, too.
Shoring up the run is a good way to get to the 3rd and 8s you need to
generate sacks and turnovers.

Then there's WR. I don't want anyone there. Keenan Allen's terrible
40 time means he's a 2nd at best (I'm not against him at 44 actually,
and feel like he'll regain his 4.55 time). Cordarrelle Patterson may as
well be called Cottonelle Patterson he's so soft - that's just not a
good fit. Dave Gettleman and Ron Rivera might do the next group a solid
by picking him, but they won't see him through to stardom themselves if
they pick him. And Tavon Austin, I guess there's a role there for him.
Slot guys are feature guys now, and add that to the roles that Percy
Harvin and others have played in hybrid roles. But do you draft a 5'8
guy from a very friendly system at this point? Not me. Actually I like
Stedman Bailey about as much as Austin, and he should be there at 44,
too.

But, I don't really want a WR either way. I'm OK with what's there for
now. Steve Smith is older - Brandon LaFell is a free agent in eight
months. Those are true. But if you can get good, inexpensive receivers
in free agency and you're going to use a bunch of them, why not just do
that to fill the veteran need, and as needed, bring in youth behind
that? The idea of creating a pick like Patterson for instance for
future need is to neglect current needs.

So, were it me, I'd pick a good place in 2 or 4 to pick up another
piece for the defensive secondary. Corner or safety, doesn't matter.
Just work to improve there. And were it me, outside of extraordinary
events otherwise at those picks, I'd follow these simple rules:
*don't trade
*pick big guys
*rinse, repeat

It really wouldn't bother me at all to pick DT, OL, DT, CB/S, then OL.
I could see TE in there. And the problem is, I've wanted that draft for
a couple of years now. It's time to stop drafting middle-rounds WRs
that can't help you. It's time to get tough, pick big, and just keep
making it happen there. And you keep hammering that until you get that
right, and then worry of the rest afterward.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

RFA? Probably Not

I'm a long-standing proponent of not using restricted free agency - a
way of dealing with players that have 3 years experience and don't have
a contract. It's often detrimental to the cap, paying a guy you might
or might not keep a million and change (and it's been a while since a
Panther RFA was a starter), all to have no security on the player again
next year. They've gotten a pick here and there (Ricky Manning, Jr for
instance) but it's just generally bad business.

It appears that Carolina goes through another RFA season unscathed, and
they're very unlikely to sign anyone (last RFA I can remember Carolina
signing? Patrick Jeffers in 1999). Since there's a week worth of time
to match (since any tendered player may require exchange of draft pick),
Carolina would only have two days left to tender anyone.

They don't have a ton of cap space, and they honestly don't have the
draft picks. With six picks, dropping one on a player would be highly
ill advised.

So, that part is covered, once again. Granted, they weren't going to
drop a 3rd (that they don't have) on Emmanuel Sanders. There really
aren't any RFAs that you'd have to have.

The more interesting part, to me, is that RFA is going away. Since the
new CBA (pertaining to 2011 draft picks and newer) gives any draftee
essentially a four year deal anyway, the 2010 class (the lesser of which
would've gotten two or three year deals) is now in year four. These are
the last players for at least the next seven years (remaining duration
on the CBA) that would have been RFAs. And I'm OK with that. There's
no real reason to have right of first refusal on young players anymore.
There aren't other contracts like that in this league anymore.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Kenny Onatolu Cut

Backup LB and special teamer Kenny Onatolu has been cut.
The reserve WLB and ST ace played five games last year for Carolina before getting hurt; Carolina added Chase Blackburn and retained Jordan Senn, making Onatolu's release more likely.

The move saves $775,000 against the cap.  Not sure if Carolina's looking to add anyone a week and change before the draft, but it helps to have a little space just in case.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Beason's Words; LB Shifts

Jon Beason promised good health, talked Super Bowls, and most
interestingly, put himself at a different position than assumed.

Regarding health, Beason suggests himself to be ahead of schedule and
that the shoulder surgery was insignificant (Beason was sidelined with a
shoulder and knee injury 5 games into 2012). He suggested that the knee
was progressing well.

No talk about his Achilles injury, which seemed to be fine early in the
2012 season and wasn't an indicator toward him being placed on IR.
Detractors had suggested that Beason would never return to form, and
used the additional injuries - at this point still suggested as
unrelated - as proof.

Worth a small amount of concern was that the knee surgery included
microfracture (essentially, drilling into the knee to cause otherwise
unplanned cartilage growth). That's still a dirty word in the NFL -
most notably because of the Chuck Smith (2000) issue and other former
Panthers that had significant cartilage degeneration. However, it seems
that it's stopped being as critical an issue over the last number of
years, and in younger players, continues to be successful. That the
surgery was in October, giving Beason a requisite amount of downtime
compared to offseason microfracture, can't hurt either.


After raving about working with MLB Luke Kuechly, Beason suggested
himself to be on the weakside in this defense, which has OLBs flowing
downhill at the ball (and blockers). Prior speculation had Beason
strongside.

This, of course, would push Thomas Davis to the strong side. He played
there 2006-2007, moving in 2008 to the weakside. Davis played well on
both sides - he really came into his own in 2009 upon the change to the
Tampa-2, in which he became the contain player. In this defense, strong
or weak, both Davis and Beason would have to take on blocks.

I like Davis' potential on the strong side again, because of the split
TE matchups that this division gets - often out of base personnel. I
don't know how well Beason will work on the weakside, or Davis will work
strongside, against the run, but both are old pros at this game. They
may not always beat a lead block, but they'll at the least absorb it,
giving Kuechly the ability to chase it down.

All this, of course, bears the nature of whether Beason's speaking from
knowledge of the team's intentions, and not just his preference.

Monday, April 8, 2013

No Smokescreens

I don't know that there's a lot to say about visits, workouts, and
interviews on my end, compared to the overall rumor mill. Fans,
specifically, go overboard on this bit of information - which is never
actually leaked from the team. It's sometimes direct from media, and
often pushed by scouts - what was a routine visit to Syracuse for 2-3
scouts and an assistant coach becomes "Team X is reportedly very
interested in Random Prospect from Syracuse".

I've probably said this before, but it bears repeating, over and over
again. They scout everyone. They scout RBs even though they have
backs. They scout QBs even though they'd prefer no one but Cam Newton to
take a snap for the next 13 or so years.

So I wanted to caution the fanbase - at least the ones that will
actually read this - to not get too involved in the "talked with" part
of the scouting process. They're going to interview everyone they can.
They're going to make up a draft board that has complete information.
They're not going to load WRs onto the board any more preferential than
anything else.

Which is fine. I know I have preferences (that definitely do NOT
include a wide receiver, and though Tavon Austin currently sounds like a
worst case scenario right now, I guess I could get with Stedman Bailey
in the 2nd if we draft a big man in the first, but definitely still
Keenan Allen), and I know other people have theirs. I'm convinced most
fans are WR-crazy, are convinced that a first or second round receiver
would automatically become a contributor, and if given the chance, may
very well draft two in the top 4 rounds despite currently having 4 vets
locked in and four more existing draft picks fighting for one, maybe two
jobs.

So, Carolina interviewing with, or meeting with, or visiting at pro
day, is a part of their process. They scout everyone. They're not
telegraphing their intentions, or covering up their intentions. They're
not going to skip prospects at this point in the process, and unlike us,
they haven't made up their mind. They won't make up their mind until
the pick approaches.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Carolina Still Has Space

Not that they'll definitely use it, but there's room under the salary
cap if Carolina requires it.

The team may be done until after the draft, or in general - and there's
not a lot of room in existing contracts to make extra space. But,
there's $6.1 million in space per the NFLPA.

I don't know if that includes Domenik Hixon - I'm going to assume not -
which puts Carolina at around $5.45 million (estimating based on what
Hixon made last year on a similar one year deal).

Rookies will take about $4.3 million of that based on my estimations.
So, Carolina may be done, or they may find themselves swapping out
players. I hate to keep beating on him, but can Carolina do better than
Garry Williams for the 1.025 million he'd save to cut? He has a roster
bonus of $100,000 as well - so depending on when that pays, he might
save more. Carolina signed no less than eight players who will be
contributing this season, for less money than that per player.

So, the room might be there for improvement. Or, this is it until the
draft. Either way, solid work so far bringing in bargains.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Hixon Signed

Carolina nabbed WR Domenik Hixon, despite supposed offers from the Broncos and Browns.

The former Giant announced through his agent that Hixon was coming to Carolina.  The move may fully solidify the unit, dropping Hixon in potential competition with Brandon LaFell to start, but definitely leaves him with a fight with Ted Ginn for the 3rd spot; Louis Murphy, a Panther last year, may take that role for the Giants that Hixon just vacated.

It also leaves the team's youth at WR - ranging from fourth year guys David Gettis and Armanti Edwards down to the younger Kealoha Pilares and Joe Adams - fighting for one, potentially two spots.  Of that group, only Gettis hasn't been used much as a return specialist (he did return 8 kicks in 2010), but none of that group will find much edge in being able to return - Ginn is likely going to show as a better return specialist than any of them.

The move pushes Carolina more toward the run on DT and OL that it, hopefully, will take in the upcoming draft.

Remaking The Back End

Dave Gettleman suggested, on receipt of his job, that high end talent
wasn't the issue (and for the contracts given out, it shouldn't be) -
that it was depth.

And, true to his word, he's providing the 35th to 53rd best players a
run for their money.

And while the team is not a finished product, he's done that to some
level. A revamped secondary that could very well start the season as it
sits, for instance. Ted Ginn and, hopefully, Domenik Hixon, would fix
WR for a year or two. Chase Blackburn provides all the depth a team
needs at LB to go with what's left.

But there's still plenty of work to be done.

*The OL has not been addressed. If you take, on face value, that Geoff
Hangartner is still a starter, there's not enough behind him. And he
performed poorly enough that he requires reasonable replacement - if
he's a backup, great. That's upgrading the back of the roster. Backup
Garry Williams hasn't shown enough to make nearly a million, either;
guard Amini Silatolu didn't really kill it last year and there's nothing
behind him, either.

*DT still has Dwan Edwards and that's it. Let's say a starter at NT
comes from somewhere; behind that, there's still not a lot, and nothing
really behind Edwards, either. You can hope that one player might
emerge from Sione Fua, Frank Kearse, or Andre Neblett, but none will be
that 3-technique behind Edwards to develop.

*they certainly don't have backup TE locked down, and they have
longterm worries at WR.

The lucky upside is that, again, the draft is full of these players.
But with only two picks in the top 100, it's not necessarily realistic
to expect the draft to solve every remaining problem, either.

Handicapping The Draft Picks

The draft is just under a month away - finally - and while Carolina is
still picking up from amongst the inexpensive free agents over the next
week or so, they're also gearing up for a very critical draft pick at
14. While they have to hit on all six picks to truly be on the road to
contention, the 14 pick is going to be their strongest chance of
improving their team.

So, a month out, let's handicap the odds of who'll make it to their
pick and whether they'll be picked. Yes, the odds are just a different
way to construct a list. No, I'm not a very good odds-maker.



4:1 - Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The most mocked pick so far it seems. Richardson is a decent value,
and he's highly rated, but he's also not considered a potential top five
pick. He fits the team's need at DT, where they really don't have but
one starter; Richardson is more of a 3 technique DT, and that's what
they have in Dwan Edwards, but Edwards is aging. Richardson's a very
good run defender in his gap, and while he's not going to power through
every doubleteam, he's at his best when he uses his good first step to
get in a gap. In this defense, you can do that at NT for a while.

6:1 - Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Unlikely to fall, but very likely to be picked if he did, Johnson is
the third of three elite OTs. It'd take a run on WR, DE, DT, and a 2nd
QB, and probably a guard or two. But since Johnson's the third OT, you
never know.

7:1 - Star Lotuleilei, DT, Utah
Lotuleilei was, at once, a top five lock. A heart issue has turned his
stock lower, but then has been cleared up. The issue isn't whether he'd
be picked, it's whether he falls. In my opinion, Star's the best
defender in this draft, but Sharrif Floyd might be picked ahead of him.
If Richardson also goes above Lotuleilei, he might fall.

10:1 - Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
It's hard to say whether they really would pick a guard at 14, but
Warmack's an elite guard. The harder part is whether Warmack would
easily move to RG, or whether they could use Amini Silatolu on the right
side, since they'd need to develop both players. Warmack will probably
be there, and regardless of where he lines up, he'd give Carolina more
reason to go for 4th and 1.
(I would put Jonathan Cooper at 14:1, because I find him a lesser
player than Warmack, because I find no real value

10:1 - Barkevious Mingo, OLB/DE, LSU
Mingo's an odd pick, but he's the only likely outside rusher available.
Carolina has DE set like no other position, but both are bigger guys.
Mingo as a situational rusher seems silly, and I'm not in favor of it -
I prefer guys at this pick that would be on the field a lot more - but
Mingo does fit the 3-4, which would allow Carolina to drop both Greg
Hardy and Charles Johnson inside, where they could still provide power.
Mingo also becomes a key asset in nickel.

There's also a historical precedent lately, with the 49ers getting tons
of production situationally from Aldon Smith, and same for Seattle and
Bruce Irvin. The Giants never shied away from DL talent, either, for
perspective on Dave Gettleman. I'm not the biggest fan of the pick,
but if the team thinks he can be an elite rusher, it may be hard to pass
that up, and having Greg Hardy as a free agent doesn't help either.


11:1 - DJ Fluker, OT, Alabama
This is the top RT pick, and that could be useful. Fluker is also rated
behind three LTs (Luke Joeckel, Lane Johnson, Eric Fisher), any of which
would be preferable obviously. Fluker does fit Carolina's style, and
would be a good pick.

12:1 - WRs Cordarell Patterson, Tennessee or Tavon Austin, WVu
Austin's size is an issue, though maybe less than the raw nature of
Patterson's game. Patterson fits better, and there's no doubt that the
team wants someone for the future behind Steve Smith. But, a WR pick
that won't develop for years with young guys at the back of the bench
already, doesn't seem like a good fit for a staff on borrowed time or a
new GM who's utilitarian.
I'd also argue that it might be easier to worry about a "next Steve
Smith" after the first one's out of the way, which won't be for a few
years.


12:1 - CBs Dee Milliner, Alabama, or Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
I'm grouping these together, since this would be under the idea one
would fall. Scouts still jockey for who'll go higher, and neither
appear top 5, but Rhodes is more likely to fall and he does have the
size Ron Rivera loves (and that he doesn't currently have at CB).
Carolina isn't "set" at CB, but they're set enough that they don't have
to make this pick.

17:1 - Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
A talented safety, Carolina could still use Vaccaro. Everyone they
have is a plan B. But, I beleive the need is low, and Vaccaro isn't an
elite talent. He's very good, but I'm not yet convinced he's heads and
shoulders above what might be there at 45.

20:1 - Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
A wildcard, and maybe I'm having flashbacks from the NY Jets Draft
Bloopers reel. Carolina did work well with 2 TE, but it would be tough
to really justify Eifert, even as talented as he is, that high or with
Greg Olsen still here for a number of years.

98:1 - Geno Smith, QB, WVu
I don't know if Smith makes it, but no.

100:1 - Matt Barkley
Not as good as a running quarterback. Is Barkley a Matt Cassell or a
Carson Palmer? His USC upbringing is clouding his overall mediocrity.
It's also just not a great year to be a pocket passer.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Spread/Read Option Teams, and Backup QBs

I think it's interesting seeing teams flying around dealing with
quarterbacks lately, especially read option teams stockpiling backups
who can run the plays necessary to make it happen. And I don't get it.

I don't think that the ability to ball-carry as a QB is one to
discount. It's useful. But in each situation - Cam Newton, Russell
Wilson, Robert Griffin - you find a potentially lethal player making it
happen, that has an incredible ability to go with it (Newton has size,
and a cannon arm; Wilson is deadly accurate; Griffin is accurate and
very sudden as a runner).

And I just don't think, even with college experience at it, Colt McCoy
offers you the same thing.

Now, it's a backup situation. And McCoy makes more sense than dropping
a skill player in there situationally. But when it comes down to it,
don't you want a guy backing your QB that can go through the other parts
of the offense first?

Derek Anderson, for instance, could never be mistaken for a read option
QB. Any runs by him should be minimal. But experience, reading the
field, and the deep ball should be a bigger part of Carolina's offense,
with or without Cam Newton, than the read option. You have to run your
offense, not just the read option. You have to feed Steve Smith and
stretch the defense; you have to run the ball, regardless of how.

But, the league is coming around on that. In a copycat league, the
ability to pull off the read option's going to spread before it settles
down.