In press conferences this week, Dave Gettleman ruled out much of
anything for a definitive WR v/s OT pick. Ron Rivera called up the idea
of an OT as more beneficial. And both agree that it could be neither
Gettleman hinted that, by need, he would want an OT, a WR, or a CB, and
that's not unrealistic. It's hard to find greater needs on this team.
Of course, the team won't go on a grocery list type buying spree,
they're adamant they're sticking to their board.
Suggesting there were "9 or 10" players at OT and WR combined that they
had a first round grade on (wouldn't it be great to know who?), Carolina
doesn't have the same philosophy that some internet outlets do (one of
the sources I trust has a total of 12).
You can assume that, in that list, you can assume definitively on four
OTs (Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews, Taylor Lewan, and Zack Martin, in my
opinion). Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, are certainties at WR - they're
both close, and they're both high end. There's a dropoff to the next
In my opinion that's where the variance can come from. And in talking
about a WR pick at 28, you can get ten different answers.
Traditional thought might compile Marquise Lee, Odell Beckham, and/or
Brandin Cooks in the first; any of the three could be gone, and
depending on who you talk to, any of the three might not be worthy. You
can pick holes in any of the three, where I've recently wanted to
devalue Lee a bit for a higher drop rate, Cooks's massive speed may not
be valuable as often if he's in the slot (where he might have to
actually run routes), leaving Beckham as, I guess, a defacto 3rd best,
but not top-15 level impactful - Beckham's return skills and abilities
seem like a great situation to be a #2 receiver.
Other contenders at 28 fill up the second round - Kelvin Benjamin,
Jordan Matthews, Donte Moncrief, Davante Adams, Allen Robinson have all
been listed as first round guys. Cody Latimer is a late-riser who some
suggest carries a first round grade. So after that quartet, you could
have up to 9 other players that carry, in my mind, a second round grade,
and I wouldn't be completely shocked to see any in the top 25-35.
It'a s deep WR draft, but, come on. That's a logjam. So, reading the
tea leaves, I don't know. I don't see a WR there that would fall to 28
that is hands-down better than the next. Beckham won't fall, Lee is
inefficient, Cooks might not survive at split end if he's a deep guy who
can't beat the jam; Benjamin is ridiculously slow and doesn't have the
route skill yet to contribute shorter.
I find Matthews to have a very well rounded profile. But he's not rated
high, in part because some find his top-end speed lacking and his
ceiling isn't much higher than his floor (which seems picky). I'd be
more than happy with Matthews as a player, compared to most of these
players, but he's not a 28th overall prospect in consensus. Adams and
Robinson follow that same situation - they're all very productive, good
sized players who aren't that athletic but play the position well.
Moncrief, in comparison, is a very high ceiling prospect who could have
the talent top be the 3rd or 4th best player, if you have a lot of
patience. He has both the size and the speed, but he's gotta learn how
to use that size and how to be consistent in essentially every phase.
So taking him means knowing he won't contribute this year.
Which was one of Ron Rivera's arguments. First round receivers don't
guarantee you much in year 1. OTs might give you 1000 snaps and upgrade
you immediately every snap.
A kid like Benjamin, he might make the field 300-500 snaps at most,
doing things inefficiently compared to the vets on the field. If he
provides you an upgrade, it's in a few snaps a game, not 60. I love the
idea of a massive target like Benjamin running the Bang-8, like a
king-sized Michael Irvin, but I don't know that he can stand up to the
other things you expect
Now, back to OT. Cyrus Kouandijo and Morgan Moses have typically been
the next guys, either of which have varied from 25-40. Depending on the
listing, both have fallen at times (NFL.com has Moses as the 11th best
tackle? takedown artist Nolan Nawrocki calls him a "developmental
prospect"). Joel Bitonio might be a riser, but he's not a top 30
Kouandijo has been somewhat the flashing neon sign of this draft. I
don't at all compare him to Star Lotulelei in ability or draft rating,
but there are some similarities - both were guys I was very aware of as
a blue chip type prospect in the draft the year before they were taken;
both have elite size and, when used, ability; and both appear to be
falling over what might end up as a misconception over their health.
And again, who knows. It could be anyone. It could be, somehow, a DT.
It could be a running back - you never really know.