Thursday, May 5, 2011

My PoV of the Carolina Panther's Draft

April 28 2011
Those of you who may not know me, I am an avid fan of NFL football. I play in numerous fantasy football leagues and follow all the news headlines as closely as I can. I especially love my local team, the Carolina Panthers. Because they were so disgustingly bad last year, we had the #1 pick this year. This years draft is a bit different though. The NFL and the Players Union's Cooperative Bargaining agreement(CBA) has expired. The NFL has declared a Lockout basically putting a halt to any football with the exception of the Draft. Many teams have needs that they wanted to fill in Free Agency,but weren't able to due to Lockout restrictions. This forced alot of teams to fill their positional needs via the draft.
I will now breakdown my opinion of the Carolina Panthers Draft this year:

#1 overall pick: Cam Newton QB Auburn
Due to the horrible play from last years pick Jimmy Clausen, most felt QB was our most pressing need. I felt we could have traded down,drafted a top notch DT or prepared for the future with a young prospect at DB or CB. I understand most believe you can't win without a franchise QB, I just felt that Clausen/Pike deserved another chance with a new offense. With free agency on hold I think the panthers felt they had to go out and draft a new QB to give us a chance. Bringing in a veteran qb wasn't a secure chance. I will admit I wasn't on board with the idea of drafting Newton initially. I felt bringing in a veteran qb or drafting down to get a 2nd rd pick to find another young prospect was our best option. After the fact, I like what i've seen from Newton in post-draft interviews. He carrys himself well, and always gives the credit to GOD. I think he has show a bit of arrogance,but hopefully he won't let it go to his head. I think he appears to have tremendous athletic ability and I look forward to seeing what he can do.

#1 Round 3(65) Terrell McClain DL South Florida:
They had to wait til the second day to make a pick again, but I think they got who they wanted. We had alot of need on the Defensive line, and with this pick we got a guy with alot of size,strength and power. New Head Coach Ron Rivera is a defensive minded coach and former player(Linebacker). He has mentioned after he was hired that his philosophy for the defensive line is to stop the run first, on the way to the Quarterback. This is a bit of a change from John Fox's philosophy, in the way that fox felt putting pressure on the Qb was the first priority. With Rivera's change in philosphy, the Defensive backs will have more time to read the defense and apply proper coverage or pressure. I believe this guy will be able not only provide the proper run defense,but will be able to put the needed pressure on the QB. This is a tremendous upgrade for the panthers.

#33 Round 3(97)Compensatory Selection: Sione Fua DL Stanford:
I believe the Panthers saw a big run on other positions, and felt they could take advantage of the decent value still left at Denfensive line. We had some decent starters from last year with players Derek Landri and Nick Hayden but consistency was called into question. Drafting Fua here was sealing the deal for controlling the line of scrimmage from the defensive side. Adding McClain and Fua gives us the bulk to plug the holes,and hopefully keep our offense on the field.

#1 Round 4(98)Brandon Hogan DB West Virginia:
With the possible loss of Richard Marshall to free agency the panthers added a very physical and athletic player. There were alot of character issues with Hogan that made him drop a round or two. If he can mature and stand out, this could be a great value pick. I don't see him passing up Munnerlyn,but I do see him making an impact in sub package plays.

#1 Round 5(132)Kealoha Pilares WR Hawaii:
There have been alot of questions about what the future with Steve Smith will be. I think he will be traded when trades are allowed. This is a sad moment for Panthers fans,but I think it may be best for both parties. If he can be traded to a playoff team it would be in his best interests,and him leaving would help Coach Rivera develop a new image for the team. With that said, Even if Smith doesn't leave, I think the team has some very young prospects that will soon make a name for themselves. Pilares has a steep hill to climb to do that as soon as this year,but he seems like an intriguing slot reciever prospect. I believe he will serve to motivate Armanti Edwards(ASU) to start in his second year.

#1 Round 6(166)Lawrence Wilson LB Connecticut:
We have a decent group of LBs,but it is yet to be seen how they will perform under a totally new defensive scheme. I think picking a LB so late in the draft shows the confidence the GM and coach have in our current group. Most commentator/analysts say Wilson will make a great special teams/backup player. I think they are underestimating his ability a bit. Coach Rivera is a former LB coach and player, I think this kid has more potential than they know. Granted, he may not become a starter this year,but I feel he will develop into something special if Rivera saw something in him.

#38 Round 6(203)Compensatory Selection Zachary Williams OL Washington St:
This Aggressive player has a mean streak that coaches tend to like. He appears to lack the athletcism and technique currently. Williams has versatility in the way he can play either Center or Guard. The Panthers struggled with injurys last year and had to move players around alot. If everyone can stay healthy he will probably compete for the Right Guard position. But I feel he was really drafted to develop into the Center position. Most analysts believe he is better fitted and more comfortable at Center,and may therefore be a development player to replace Ryan Kalil. Kalil is an undersized Center who has performed well,but had to be franchised tagged.

#41 Round 7(244)Compensatory Selection Lee Ziemba OL Auburn:
Another Offensive Lineman to build up our depth. Also, a familiar face for Cam Newton. Ziemba was graded higher than Williams,but wasn't taken. You have to assume it was due to Willaims versatility ,and team needs. I don't know if Ziemba will contribute this year with all of the talent already on the line,but only time will tell.

Overall I think the panthers drafted well, but everything rides on Newton becoming a star. I think that last years downfall was caused by a number of factors. The biggest one is the failure of the Offensive Coordinator and his offense. I think alot of blame has been pushed onto Jimmy Clausen's shoulder and I don't think thats accurate or fair. As a rookie, he was thrown into a very young team with injurys. The team made moves(which now appear to be moves to prepare for a lockout)to get rid of vets to save money. Keeping a guy like muhammed(wr) would have given the rookie wide receivers someone to learn from and compete with. Losing other guys like Peppers, and not replacing them with other vets in free agency crippled the team. We have the youngest team in the NFL. It was our downfall last year,but will prove to be an advantage in the future. We just have to be patient and let these young guys step up and impress us.

Your Humble Bystander

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