Archive for the ‘Carolina Panthers’ Category

After what seemed an eternity of drafting, the NFL now has its newest crop of young talent ready to display before the masses.  There were trades galore during the primetime event Thursday, Friday and throughout out the day on Saturday.  Most of them were for good causes as fans and teams alike were delighted by the free movement in and out of rounds that allowed teams to actually get what they coveted.

As a southern style blog/report, we will focus mainly on the NFC South as I may choose to review others as I see fit(or upon request).  The Southern Division had two clear winners as the other two were riddled by either previous trades or penalty by the league.

The Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cleaned up early and often in hopes of returning to the forefront of a division they not too distantly controlled before.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

The Bucs really went after it in this draft.  First they traded down out of the top 5 and had a hand in making Cleveland trade up one spot for RB Trent Richardson.  With the 7th pick they took Alabama SS Mark Barron.  Instantly they gave themselves production in the back 7 they sorely needed.  Next at the bottom of the first they traded back in to select Boise St RB Doug Martin, complementing Blount in the backfield.  Hopefully this will take some pressure off of the struggling QB Josh Freeman.  In the 5,6, and 7 rounds they added youth and depth at positions of need adding a linebacker a corner, another running back and a tight end.  The first round alone is enough to give the Bucs an A but they kept at it in the later rounds giving this team a new look and hope for the near future.

Grade: A

Carolina Panthers:

Early on the Panthers looked to be the team that would land the top D-Tackle prospect in the draft were they to select Mississippi St. bulldozer, Fletcher Cox, in a mild upset the Panthers elected to go with the super talented inside linebacker Luke Kuechley.  Immediately fans jumped all over the pick wondering why they would pass on such a glaring need such as DT in lieu of a linebacker.  The Panthers would not be swayed as their very next selection caused even more heads to tilt in wonder when they selected a D-II offensive guard, Amini Silatolu.  After the early misdirection the Panthers got back on track using all of their remaining picks to hit major areas of need: DE, CB, WR/PR, and S.  After the initial shock of the early rounds(and a couple YouTube highlight videos) my nerves calmed and I began to appreciate the direction and overall quality of Carolina’s decisions.  Kuechly will be a stud and Silatolu will be a monter in the middle and Carolina is fast approaching one of if not the most talented Special teams units in the League.

Grade:B+

Atlanta Falcons:

Not much to see here as they gave up the farm last year to acquire WR Julio Jones.  Two offensive lineman, a full back, defensive end, strong safety and a d-tackle.  Most everything this team needs on defense was addressed in the draft.  The only thing missing now on defense is talent.  Julio better be good next year because they are going to have to score a lot of points in this division.

Grade: C

New Orleans Saints:

Oh boy, where to begin with the continuing disaster that is the NO Saints offseason?  How about the first round, no? Okay then how about the 2nd?  Not there either?  The 3rd? Yes finally the 3rd round selection of the Saints was a DE from Regina, Akiem Hicks.  And that pretty much does it for name recognition for the Saints draft.  A WR, SS, G, and Tackle  round out the late rounds.  Look on the bright side New Orleans, you still have Drew Brees, right???

Grade: D+

There you have it folks, NFC South draft wrap ups and grades to drink in.  The South should be interesting at the least to watch.  We very well could see a reversal of fortune for those that have held this division under there thumbs for a few years now.  The Panthers and Bucs are seriously gaining ground on Atlanta and New Orleans is only one more scandal away from being the ‘Aints again.

Keep it glued right here on True Talk, your source for Southern Sports!

The day is now upon us.  Gathered like children round the Christmas tree with butterflies and knots in our stomachs, anxiously awaiting the arrival of that final piece or maybe the cornerstone to a bright new future.

Football fans everywhere are checking Twitter feeds and Facebook posts hungrily devouring every draftniks newest trade scenario and mock draft.  Each one providing their own insight to what is, without a doubt, the most unpredictable spectacle in all of sports.

Now that we are entering the 11th hour, every GM, coach and owner is up to speed on the players they want in the draft and even a few that they think could be there with their pick.  The stage has been set, and the most prolific collegiate football players in the nation will gather with friends, families and former coaches and wait to hear the commissioner  announce their name and placement in America’s favorite sport.

The suspense is palpable and every nerve in the body is rapid-firing signals back to the brain faster than they can be decoded.  A hush comes over the capacity crowd in the Radio City Music Hall as NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, makes his long walk to center stage, note card in hand.  Lightly he adjusts the level of the microphone before making his opening remarks.  The buzz begins to build in anticipation of the draft’s most famous words before they are uttered for the first time in 365 days.  Teeth clinch, heart rates jump, sweat beads on the brow of fans all over the world as Goodell announces, “And with the first pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts select…”

As fans we all have our preferences and predictions, both positive and negative, as to what direction our favorite teams will go.  Lost in all the hustle and bustle of this modern “holiday” is the birth of hope.  With each pick and trade that comes off the board hope replaces the anguish and frustration that all but one team felt as the final seconds ticked off of the clock signifying the end of the season.

With that new-found hope message boards, forums, team websites, fan pages and, yes, blogs much like this one, will collectively rejoice the coming of a new season.  And whether you take the time to think about it or not, you are filled with great expectations as whatever team you pull for is right back in the hunt for that ever so elusive Lombardi Trophy.

Every Team is back at 0-0 and with that beautiful statistic in place the mind can drift, wonder, and maybe even dare to dream that at the end of it all your team will be the one left standing in a perpetual blizzard of confetti as the star player looks into the camera in front of millions of fans to proclaim, “I’m going to Disney World!”

As I leave you with the taste of victory lingering on your mental pallets, just take a moment and remember the feeling that hope provides.  That warm fullness that wells up inside to the point of bursting.  Savor that moment, let it sink in and enjoy these few brief hours out of the long day, week, or month that has been eating at you.  Take this time to push back all the nonsense of your normal day-to-day and just relish this time out, breathe deep the minutes you have to sit back and embrace something so trivial yet so very, very important to, yes, the cultural fiber of our great nation.  Celebrate no matter what happens and let the games begin!

NFL Films has been a staple in my life and has molded the way that I view football and its impact on the American Culture.  Today, NFL Films will unveil the premiere episode  that displays Tim Tebow as the 7th greatest Heisman Trophy Winner of all time.

Let that sink in a minute.

Ok, now that was the 7th greatest Heisman Trophy Winner of all time.  If we were sticking specifically to the college ranks then there might be an argument here, but this is NFL Films we’re talking about.

From USA Today:

1. Barry Sanders
2. Roger Staubach
3. O.J. Simpson
4. Paul Hornung
5. Charles Woodson
6. Tony Dorsett
7. Tim Tebow
8. Earl Campbell
9. Marcus Allen
10. Cam Newton

Tim Tebow ranks ahead of Earl Campbell, Marcus Allen, and Cam Newton.  The closest of the three would be Tebow to Newton, but you would have a hard time getting Newton away from the Panthers with a fourth round pick like the jets gave Denver for Tebow.  So what is this madness spewing from NFL Films?  Have they lost their minds?  I wish upon a star that Earl Campbell could show up in that powder blue uni’ and smash the NFL Films front office through a wall for such blasphemy.

It appears as though the film company has decided to just cash in as hard as they can on Tebowmania while leaving a little wiggle room for that new guy down in Carolina.  This list should at first glance make you laugh, then it should make you ball your fists and look for the first solid surface in which to put it through.  Absolutely detestable that they could muster the gumption to make such an inflammatory list.

Look if Tebow is a better NFL player/Heisman Trophy Winner than Campbell and Allen, why not have him a little higher on the list?  I mean no one of this Tebow generation really remembers Tony Dorsett or Paul Hornung right?  For that matter the only ones that know anything about OJ are the ones that watched him struggle to put on that little black leather glove.  So just go ahead NFL Films, put Tebow right up there at number 1.  You’ve already spit in our faces lets take it up a notch and see how far we can go?

Honestly this sort of thing frightens me as  an NFL fan.  How can anyone with any sort of self-proclaimed knowledge of the sport just accept this as truth and walk away?  This aggression will not stand with the Dude, man!  I don’t even like the fact that Cam Newton is on the list.  He was fantastic as a rookie but so were everyone of the other players on that list, well, except for Tebow.

For all that’s been said, this is just an attempt to boost ratings for a network that wants to drive traffic and nothing moves the needle right now like Tebow and Newton.  So, for all my moaning and complaining about this list, it is what it is, a marketing tool for the league.  Lets be honest with ourselves, they are the best in the world at marketing their product to the millions of baby birds with our mouths agape waiting for the next spoon-full.

***********Update************

NFL Films has released a statement to try and validate the placement of Tim Tebow on their top 10 list of greatest NFL players to win a Heisman Trophy.  Per Profootballtalk.com the official NFL Films Blog reveals the factors behind the selections:

Who had the best NFL career?
Who had signature plays and great moments?
Who had box-office appeal? Who sells tickets? Who sells jerseys?
Who has cultural resonance? Who passes the Mom test?

This helps a total of none when i look at this list.  It still makes me want to regurgitate my lunch.

NO

Steve Smith

In a press conference this afternoon at approximately 3:00pm, Steve Smith officially announced that he and the Carolina Panthers had reached an agreement on a contract extension.  The loose terms as of now are 4 years with $18 million guaranteed and the Panthers have an option for a 5th year with undisclosed terms.  The deal puts Smith in the company of Reggie Wayne’s recent signing with the Indianapolis Colts.

Panthers fans should be relieved as Smith was entering his final year of his current contract.  This should lock up the perennial pro-bowler throughout the rest of his career.  Smith, who will turn 33 this season, is looking to remain with the team that drafted him back in 2001 in an era that doesn’t see that kind of stability or loyalty with players of his caliber.

Smith is the Panthers all-time leading receiver in most statistical categories including, receptions, touchdowns, and yards.  Remaining with the team may shake up the Panthers draft strategy, but if you’ve been following me recently you’ll know that that will not be the case.

Smith said in his conference this afternoon that he is not looking to teach his new quarterback anything, quite the opposite, he is looking to learn from the second year starter.  I, for one, have studied closely the enigma that is Steve Smith and I found that the more you try to understand the man the more mystified you become.  The best I can figure, the only option is to just sit back grab a bag of popcorn and enjoy one of the greatest little receivers to ever play the game of football.

Rejoice Carolina fans you got your Smitty back.

Image

Cam Newton Draft Photo

The last weekend of April is one of the most anticipated weekends of the year for football fanatics.  Teams and their fans are looking to this magical weekend to upgrade their respective rosters with talent farmed from some of the best collegiate football programs in the country.  What is this magical weekend of eternal hope and renewed spirit? This, my friends, is the NFL Draft.

Every team has at least one chance to choose a former collegiate player to add to its roster to help fill holes left by free agency or injury, or just provide depth at a position that is thin or top heavy with talent.  Teams work round the clock vetting these future “stars” and “busts” as well as managing team needs versus where they feel they line up in the draft order.  Some teams employ the Best Player Available approach, while others draft solely based on need.

Last year the Carolina Panthers struck Draft Gold by selecting Cam Newton with the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.  He rewarded the Panthers with a rookie season the likes of which have never been seen.  He destroyed all records for a rookie quarterback and even some records that have stood the test of time(Rushing Touchdowns by QB).

In 2012 the Panthers are once again selecting in the top ten of the draft and they look to continue their first round dominance under the command of second year Head Coach, Ron Rivera, and front office veteran GM, Marty Hurney.  The Panthers will be selecting with the ninth overall pick after losing the coin toss with Miami to decide the tie-breaker between the two teams with identical records.

Options abound and possibilities are seemingly endless for the Panthers, but we will try to keep it simple and go with the most logical of scenarios for this pick.

Everyone is aware of the defensive struggles that the Panthers suffered through last season, after losing key cogs, Jon Beason(achilles), Thomas Davis(ACL), and Ron Edwards(Torn Triceps) to season ending injuries.  The logical step would be to assume the Panthers will draft defense early and often.  Marty Hurney, however, cautions against such a simplistic view of their overall draft strategy.  The Panthers are leaning heavily toward the Best Player Available strategy.  This puts every possibility into play and also makes the Panthers a very real trade partner.

The most obvious top 10 caliber defensive players that could be available at number nine are, Morris Claiborne, Dontari Poe, Fletcher Cox, Melvin Ingram, Quinton Coples, and Luke Kuechly.  Claiborne fills an obvious need at corner back as the Panthers secondary was torched as teams routinely picked on the small but fiery Captain Munnerlyn. Claiborne will likely be gone by the ninth pick maybe as early as third overall but teams like Tampa Bay and Cleveland are starved for offensive playmakers and could use their picks on sexier names like Blackmon or Richardson.

Dontari Poe, Fletcher Cox and Quinton Coples would be the next best options to Claiborne as the Panthers received zero interior pressure from the d-line after spending not one but two third round picks on interior lineman in last years draft.  Terrell Mcclain and Sione Fua were thrown to the wolves last year as rookies and both finished the year on injured reserve.  The two early round picks could prevent the Panthers from going that direction again.

The wild card selections would be drafting according to the B.P.A. strategy.  Say the Panthers are not worried about filling needs just grabbing who they feel are solid football players that fit their mold.  These players could include but are not limited to, Luke Kuechly(ILB), David Decastro(G), and Michael Floyd.

In my opinion Luke Kuechly would be the safest pick.  The problem lies in that the Panthers are absolutely stacked at the linebacker postion.  All-pro Jon Beason controls the middle while outstanding players Thomas Davis and James Anderson roam the outside.  Beason and Davis are coming off of season ending injuries so depth could be the focus there.

With the depature of long time starter Trevelle Wharton at the Gaurd spot the Panthers could look to David Decastro to shore up the protction for Cam Newton.  While the most surprising pick to me would be if the Panthers were to select Notre Dame wideout, Michael Floyd.  Carolina has struggled to replace all-pro wideout Mushin Muhammad as the true number two opposite Steve Smith.  The Panthers are expecting big things from third year wideouts Brandon Lafell and David Gettis.  An offense that was already potent would be absolutely terrifying for opposing coordinators.

Finally the other option would be for the Panthers to trade back and stockpile picks to help build a team that will soon be a perennial playoff contender for years to come.  This I feel is the least of the options. A team should never relinquish high picks in the draft when they are so close to contending year in and year out.

All in all I believe the best option for the Panthers would be Morris Claiborne if he does in fact drop.  After many mock drafts and speculation I think the Panthers will have done their homework and continue their run of successful first round picks.

In the 3rd round of the 2001 NFL Draft the Carolina Panthers selected a small firey wideout named Steve Smith.  Not even the cats knew what they were getting.  This pint sized player took the field and turned this franchise and fan base on its ears.  After reaching 4 probowls, 2 NFC title games, 1 superbowl, mulitiple playoff appearences, and a triple crown recieving title, the diminuative Smith’s future with the team is a mystery.  His frustration is palpable.  Hpoefully with a new coach and QB Smitty will honor the last two years of his contract and continue what has already been a stellar NFL career.  If not expect him to return to his roots on the west coast, probably on a team that also wears the powder blue.