NFL team drafts always seem to produce surprises, questions, and inevitable comparisons. While some of those questions will be addressed in the future, here's the trio of incoming rookies for the Carolina Panthers in the final day of the NFL Draft:
Round 4, pick 3 (102) (from Raiders) Daryl Williams, G, Oklahoma
Round 5, pick 33 (169) (compensatory) David Mayo, LB, Texas St.
Round 5, pick 38 (174) (compensatory) Cameron Artis-Payne, RB, Auburn
Daryl Williams adds Power to the Offense
The young man here is 6'5" 327 lbs. and obviously versatile, because he appears as one of those "tweeners" as a T/G prospect. From my own standpoint, that of just a longtime NFL fan in general, I'll try and be as objective as possible just for the sake of brevity. There will be a lot more articles about this incoming group as a whole, so I'll just tell it as I always do - straight up and honest.
From what I hear, Williams is an overall powerful guy in his element. He's a strong run-blocker and seems to epitomize the ancient and oft-used phrase "Road Grader." He's got very strong hands and hips, might have more agility than you think from a guy his size, but only within a defined area. He lacks the lateral agility to be a left tackle for sure, but could possibly be a fit for a run-heavy offense at right tackle.
Boiling it all down, it really looks to me like another RG, but that's where Trai Turner currently plays. Daryl Williams is not a great pass-blocker but perhaps "adequate" on the strong side. I'm not so sure he's ready to be a blind-side guard let alone that left tackle.
I think his selection points to a committed effort to just physically dominate the line of scrimmage when you look at Turner's selection from last season as well. Daryl will have to show us what he's made of, then his position might become more defined, but I'm hoping he isn't being brought in as a Byron Bell Act II. That would NOT be a good thing!
David Mayo adds Flavor to the Defense
I'm hungry, brb...
Okay. No, for real - I got up and heated a leftover slice of pizza. The references will never end while we have a Mayo, so get used to it.
At 6'2" and 228 lbs, Mayo's size would suggest he's going to be an outside linebacker. It's interesting to me that the team took two LBs that are relatively small. Ironically, Mayo seems strong rather than fast, and could be a distant backup to Thomas Davis or even just a special teams player. Shaq Thompson was obviously their coveted pick at the overall position, so Mayo's going to have to find his niche to avoid the practice squad, or worse.
The good news is that he may be one of those guys that has a good football intellect, plays smart, and had a relatively productive college career. He ran a 4.7-40 at the combine, so he appears to lack range when chasing down plays from the back side. He's too small to be a backup on the inside. However, more shrewd minds than mine are making the draft decisions and they had to have seen something in him. Twitter said that the Panthers were the only team that had him visit, so all I can say about him right now is that he has something that doesn't meet the eye, or Gettleman would have gone all Air Coryell on the fattening condiment and passed on him entirely.
My only guess is that they saw some of Luke Kuechly in him or something to that effect. I don't mean athletically, but bright. I'd be interested to know what he made on the Wonderlic.Test or how his interview went. If they went particularly well, then I think we'd be on a bit of a trail as to the culprit, so stay tuned here at C-cubed. I'm sure someone will have more as time passes.
Panthers Hope Cameron Artis-Payne is More of a "van Go"
My apologies to the mono-auditorial Dutchman Vincent van Gogh, may he rest in peace. Two "Cams" are now on the team, so you better get used to the wordplay there, as well. This draft is literally strewn with material for punsters.*evil grin*
Simply put, you don't tote the rock at Running Back U without bringing something to the table. At 5'10" 212 lbs, he's compact and solid. He is a guy who waits and reads his blocks so in that respect, think about the Pittsburgh Steelers and Le'Veon Bell as far as comparing running style. However, this Cam isn't going to really be that threat to the edge, and his particular selection tells me the running game is looking for solid north-south guys, and that's exactly the type of runner "CA-P" is. Hopefully, he can someday learn to switch the ball to the other hand from the picture you see here.
I'm an Auburn grad myself, so I really do see how the Panthers are thinking with this guy on several levels. He's a cut-and-go runner that waits on his blocks, and I really didn't see him lose yardage a lot. Oh, he got killed a few times as any runner can by a busted blocking assignment or whatnot, but when he'd take the handoff my gut would always tell me a little more that "we're gonna get something on this play."
I can't explain it, but that's how I'd feel, watching Auburn games last year. Handing the ball off to CA-P meant that we liked our chances both in the game and in the play. He isn't one to dance around or jive some poor bozo out of his boots, but rather knock him out of them.
That said, we have all seen similar-style runners like Trent Richardson bust at the NFL level, and CA-P is only a 5th-round pick. I think all the Panthers' brass knows there's some extra pressure on them in selecting this particular guy, or any particular runner this late.
If David Gettleman has any Achilles Heel so far, it's in failing to develop talent at the RB position. If you look at it, we've really got nothing they've brought in behind Jonathan Stewart, an expensive and oft-injured incumbent from a salary situation brought in by former GM Marty Hurney.
As such, he really needs to show that he knows what he's doing with drafting CA-P this late. First, it shows Gettleman isn't yet seriously addressing the position. A lot of factors are involved, with "best available" draft strategies, some position likely falls due to circumstance.
With that in mind, CA-P is looked upon to primarily be a between-the-tackles runner. He doesn't bring in a great knowledge of pass protection, having come from Auburn's three running plays and variations from with the odd pass usually being an afterthought.
He's certainly no accomplished receiver out of the backfield, either. However, when you consider draft positions after about the middle of the third round somewhere in most drafts, you're starting to get slightly more than marginal NFL prospects. CA-P's role is to get some tough yards running the ball inside, period.
A Free Gift for You
...yeah, drafts can always be like that razor commercial where you get punched in the 'nads for a "free gift." We don't directly "pay" to see who is selected in the NFL Draft, either. Free is worth what you pay for as they say, and the time is literally very short - mere minutes now - since the 2015 NFL Draft has concluded.
Analyses will run rampant for the remainder of everyone's tenure, however short or lengthy it turns out to be. My own is that David Mayo is the biggest mystery to me, but perhaps I'm expecting too much when I compare 5th-round picks to Bene' Benwikere.
Daryl Williams makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons, but namely by helping the running game inside. Dominate your guy and move forward. Brute force, and a great tool if Mike Shula can put them all to use correctly, which remains to be seen.
Mayo's the mystery, as I said, and the one whose path I'll try and follow perhaps a little more than that of the others. CA-P will be easy, as anyone with the ball in their hands will be.
Speaking of which, along comes Cameron Artis-Payne, whose job description is very similar to that of Williams above: go north, young man! He's not flashy, sexy, or shiny. He won't break a run for a long TD anytime soon, but is more of a guy who will get you bags and bags of 7-yard runs into the teeth of the defense, should he live up to his potential. I think he's a good example of what you look for in a zone-blocking running scheme. Both guys, CA-P and Williams, actually.
With the addition of Devin Funchess, a hulking receiver, it's apparent the "strategery" here is a rather straightforward one: Punch 'em in the mouth and put your footprint on his chest.
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