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Monday, July 28, 2014

Camp Observations

I'm just a guy, I don't go to practice.  So this is, essentially, from others' eyes, so take it for what it's worth.

*Kelvin Benjamin's been tearing it up.  That's a great sign - of course, plenty of big guys have ripped it up in camp.  But, Benjamin's no Walter Young.  I feel like, if he can contribute, he can really take advantage of the (apparently once a decade) refocus on pass interference and defensive holding calls.

With that said, I might have to revise what I think Benjamin can do, from a contribution standpoint. Most WRs don't break 700 snaps as a rookie, and most of those are first rounders. So far, KB has been running with the ones, and they appear ready to plug him in.

*The Tyler Gaffney thing is a bit short of heartbreaking.  Carolina can find other backs like that, absolutely, so it's not as if they stole a star.  But, it's nice to have someone who can pass block, play special teams, and carry a load as a runner and receiver.  Within the next two years, all of the players ahead of Gaffney other than Kenjon Barner will be gone, and Barner is a contributor, not a workhorse.  Carolina just doesn't have the easy margins of being able to throw away productive future players, so this hurts.

It has enough past picks into rededicating picks to previous blown picks (DT, WR, QB being its biggest, but RB has five picks since 2009 the year after they'd spent a 2nd #1 in three years - only Barner of the recent picks is on the roster), picks that could've been used on filling future needs instead of past ones (I don't think it's totally missed that DT, WR, QB have a sunnier disposition immediately after drafting #1s for each - I guess RB will need another high pick in two years or less; luckily, the 1st round RB is essentially extinct).

Relatedly, Carolina screwed up.  They picked up Fozzy Whitaker to replace him, but by not holding Gaffney until cuts, they lost him.  Unnecessarily so. Is Tom Nelson going to make the roster? Maybe. Whitaker?  Who knows.  They picked up a DT and it's not worth learning his name, they have 5 guys for 4 spots.  Truthfully, none of the players picked up around Gaffney's waiving were good enough.  Could've held onto the kid for a few weeks and not had this happen.

Dave Gettleman was the pro personnel guy in New York when this happened with Jake Ballard.  Ballard was essentially done, Gettleman had players at TE and didn't have to have Ballard, but still, it was a lesson to learn.

*Jonathan Stewart is a valuable commodity.  If he can show that soon, great.  But, without anything changing at all, it's hard to view his minor hamstring issue any better after losing Gaffney outright. If Stewart doesn't provide much, it's hard to see the sacrifice of Gaffney as having any good side at all.  I guess you can't blame Stewart, who trains hard and has more talent than any 2nd RB ever should, but it's been a while for anything positive and we're getting more Barry Foster out of this guy lately than Stephen Davis.  It's easy to be frustrated when that contributes to losing to a guy who could've taken over for him.

*I'm really starting to like essentially all the pickups from this offseason.  Benjamin's apparently ahead of schedule, Kony Ealy's showing fight, Trai Turner is starting, for what could be a pretty good top 3 in that draft.

But the vets?  Ed Dickson's getting very high marks. Thomas Decoud seems to be vocal off and on the field. Jason Avant, Jerricho Cotchery, and Tiquan Underwood aren't showing anything of concern, when the timing gets right, they should all be good contributors.

Still waiting to see much of Roman Harper.  Antoine Cason is apparently a starter, as he should be, and I guess it's good he's been quiet?  Don't know.  I think both have plenty to offer, however.

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