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Archive for April 26th, 2009

Panthers’ Draft: Not so good

Color me very unimpressed with this year’s draft. I make it as one likely very good player obtained at a high cost, two overreaches, three guys with motivational/judgment issues. Oh, and a fullback.

2nd round, Everette Brown, defensive end, Florida State: Nice pick, elite pass rusher than could help replace Julius Peppers when JP leaving the team in 2010. The down side is that he’s a little undersized, so might get pushed around against the run — and the Panthers aren’t all that great against the run anyways. The price was pretty high though, so Brown needs to play at a very high level for this to pay off for the Panthers.

2nd round: Sherrod Martin, a defensive back from Troy. OK, a small-college safety that the Panthers are going to convert into a cornerback. We think. Though he could also still play safety if needed. There probably are going to be some Charles Godfreyesque awkward moments in that transition (in reverse) to CB, which raises the question as to how much playing time Martin will see this season:

Because of his athleticism, Martin will probably be drafted higher than his current ability warrants; however, he is a good developmental prospect who may be a year or two away from contributing significantly.

The thing though is that Martin is also already 24 1/2 years old — that’s nearly two years older than both Dwayne Jarrett and Charles Johnson. Among the Panther’s DBs, Martin age-wise is comparable to third or fourth year pros Nate Salley, Quinton Teal, and C.J. Wilson. So very likely a reach where Martin was taken.

3rd round: Corvey Irvin, defensive tackle from UGA. Nice story, admits to being a “lost kid” in high school, put it together at a junior college, then went to Georgia, becoming a starter his senior year. Only one thing, various draft projections had him more like a 4th to 6th rounder. Not sure if Irvin is really a quality NFL starter or just this draft’s version of Kindal Moorehead.

4th Round: Mike Goodson, running back from Texas A & M: Very odd pick for the Panthers — Goodson has lots of potential in the right role. I’m just not sure to what degree that role exists on the Panthers, and if it does, whether Goodson has the type of character the Panthers are looking for.

Put it this way: If either half of Double Trouble is troubled by an injury, the Panthers are doubly in trouble if they think Goodson can double in. Goodson cannot block. Period. He also does not have the strength to be an inside runner.

What Goodson can do is catch the ball and run in the open field, as long as he doesn’t get hit. I would say that he has potential as a return man, but he has little if any experience in that role in college.

Oh, then there’s this:

Character: Goodson left school early and the coaching staff seemed relieved by his decision. He has had problems with both of his head coaches and is perceived as a player that is not willing to conform, raising some red flags that will affect his overall draft stock.

Nice.

4th Round: Tony Fiammetta, Fullback, Syracuse. Generally considered the best FB in the draft. Can lead block and pass protect. He can also catch the ball. He is not, however, much of a runner. So yes, a fullback. It remains to be seen if Fiammetta beats out Brad Hoover for the FB job on the Panthers (though it’s quite possible).

5th Round: Duke Robinson, a guard out of Oklahoma, who told Carolina Growl that the Panthers were “the last team I thought would draft me.”

Where you get drafted depends both on your potential and how likely you are to achieve it. Some projections had Robinson as a 2nd rounder. He’s got that kind of an upside. It’s easy to see though why he didn’t go that high though: weight issues (he hit 380 his freshman year in college), onfield anger management issues, and problems abiding by team rules:

The jury is out on Robinson, as he does not have major off-field issues, but is the type that needs to be monitored. He was suspended for part of the 2008 Texas Christian game due to a team rules violation. You just wonder if a big contract will make him stay hungry and if he will mature on and off the field. He has had temper issues on the field and those personal foul penalties have proven costly.

So the Panthers may have found somebody that could be starting at guard in 2010 or 2011. And it’s also quite possible that come 2010 or 2011, Robinson might be that massive object bouncing at some club in town.

6th Round/7th Round: The Raiders are run by morons. There’s just no other way to say it. These guys offered the Panthers a pick next year to move up in this year’s draft. That can be a good move — but probably hasn’t for the Raiders in this case, as they were moving up from the 216th (7th pick, 7th round) pick to the 202nd pick (6th round, 29th pick — why???) with the Panthers also getting the Raiders’ 6th round pick next year.

The guy the Panthers book with the Raider’s 7th round pick was Captain Munnerlyn out of South Carolina. Classic case: A guy having a bad year in college gets called out about it by his coach, does not like it, and decides to declare for the NFL draft. Unsurprisingly, he only got taken in the 7th round:

Yesterday brought the announcement of the departure of Captain Munnerlyn and Eric Norwood for the NFL after their junior seasons. Both of these guys are making a mistake… Munnerlyn, is departing after a below average season and, according to one NFL scout, wouldn’t be drafted until the 7th round or possibly not at all. Talk about stupid, this kid has an inflated idea about what he can do and it appears that no one can tell him any differently.” – D. Childress on USC Sports

The good Ensign will get a chance to figure football — and life — out in all likelihood on the Panthers’ practice squad this year. That is unless his arrogance gets the better of him before then and he gets cut.

Bottom line: We won’t really know what these seven players will amount to for a few years yet. But aside from DE, I’m not at all convinced the Panther’s core needs have been adequately addressed. Irvin and Martin will help at DT and CB eventually, but will they help enough, soon enough? The Panthers’ O-line depth remains suspect in general, and especially at tackle. And to put it bluntly, anything besides headlines for all the wrong reasons from Goodson, the Duke, and the Ensign would come as a welcome bonus.

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Welcome to the Ron Meeks Era, Panther Fans

Everette Brown is a Ron Meeks football player. Fast, undersized, gets in the backfield. The most significant aspect of Carolina opting to trade next year’s 1st rounder to land Brown is that it signifies that John Fox is really going to let Meeks run his own scheme.

Brown is almost a carbon copy of Meeks’ DEs at Indy — Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis — rather than the big block-catching DEs Fox prefers. Fox’s DEs jam up or try split double-teams on the edge while Meeks’ guys run around them. This might be the formula needed to break the pattern of FSU DEs looking like world-beaters in college only to get beaten up in the NFL

We’ll have to get to camp to find out, but the Brown pick up also makes me wonder if Tyler Brayton and Charles Johnson will see more reps at DT with Brown on board. Johnson especially is a Meeks-sized “rush” DT.

The Panthers got Meeks more help in CB Sherrod Martin another big, versatile ballhawk in the mold of Charles Godfrey, who might blossom into a Pro Bowl safety this year. Martin will have ample opportunity to earn playing time, if he can grasp the complex schemes Meeks employs and avoid the injuries that shut him down for two seasons in college.

Now the Panthers must add OL depth, quality depth, depth that could step in and start when injuries hit considering that is what they lost in the off-season. Do that and there will be cause for more hope in Carolina than many — including me — thought possible.

Bonus Observation: Stupid, stupid! Did not occur to me that the Browns were targeting Indy’s Mohamed Massaquoi as well as Hakeem Nicks with the team’s calls to the school. But Nicks to the Giants makes perfect sense. Eli Manning might toss Hakeem a dozen TDs during the season.

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