Posts Tagged ‘Justin Blackmon’

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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.

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