Panthers Awarded 3rd Rd Compensatory Pick and Dave Gettleman Can Now Trade It!

Panthers Awarded 3rd Rd Compensatory Pick and Dave Gettleman Can Now Trade It!

The 2017 compensatory picks were announced this past week. The Carolina Panthers received an additional 3rd round pick (98th overall) because of the departure of Josh Norman and Brad Nortman. In the past, compensatory picks

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Oh Godfrey, No Safety in Carolina's Secondary!

Oh Godfrey, Cam broke a rib. Oh Godfrey, Carolina has an entirely new receiving core. Oh Godfrey, Jordan Gross's retirement pushed Byron Bell to left tackle, and this line could be even worse than last year's. Oh Godfrey, Panther fans are in a panic. What, there’s more?  Oh Godfrey!

Byron BellYes, there’s is another weakness that hasn’t been discussed as frequently--safety. Personnel deficiencies and injuries, just like last year, could place an undue amount of pressure on a defense that is almost entirely predicated on the pass rush. Those hogmollies up front best pin their ears back and get after the quarterback, because it’s not clear Carolina could stave off a powerful air attack.

Safety wasn't Carolina's strongest attribute last season.  Mike Mitchell's punishing hits and flashy safety blitzes created a false sense of strength, one that even landed Mitchell a fat contract with Pittsburgh. Carolina’s secondary just wasn’t the best dish on the defensive buffet.  Injury and inconsistency forced Gettleman to make-over the recipe with old-journeyman and fresh, near unheard, of ingredients. Sure the dish was edible, but hardly delectable.  

Captain Munnerlyn, the fan favorite mini-sized cornerback, and Mike Mitchell’s departure temporarily highlighted the deficiency.  Dave Gettleman's acquisition of two rival NFC South safeties, Thomas DeCoud (FS) and Roman Harper (SS), helped to quell some concerns as departures of Jordon Gross and Steve Smith grabbed most’s attention.  Although to a lesser degree, the problem remained. 

DeCoud appears to be locked in at free safety, but Robert Lester's inconsistent preseason and recent ankle injury, Roman Harpers oldness, and rookie Tre Boston's absence entirely, only sours the taste of this defensive dish once again.  There are some guys, like Anderson Russell and Colin Jones, who are battling to solidify a roster spot in this depleted backfield, but according to Joe Person, the Panthers haven’t been happy with what they have seen.

Roman Harper
The secondary has been a topic of discussion at C3 for quite sometime. We’ve been particularly interested in Charles Godfrey’s move to nickel corner.  The Panthers reasoned that Godfrey, who played some corner in college, could adjust to this position a little easier after his Achilles injury.  He provided a bigger body that could match up with some of those more athletic tight-ends and slot receivers, as Bene Benwikere developed.  In our Training Camp Cuts podcast, in mid-July, we speculated that Godfrey would wind up at strong safety before the season’s end.  We originally believed this would come from Roman Harper simply not outperforming the younger guys, while expecting Benwikere to develop faster than most expected.

After a C3 interview with Bill Voth and Lester’s recent injury, our perspective may have changed slightly, but the outcome remains the same--Godfrey will end back up at safety.  Our rationale was that Harper was just too old and a little too washed up, resulting in him losing the starting position. Voth, however, articulated an additional concern, Harper may just be nicked up all season and not have a chance to lose the job. Well Harper is back on the field for the moment, but the Panthers don’t expect him to do the job alone.  Today, Joe Person reported: 

Godfrey is moving back to safety, at least in some capacity. I like Godfrey in this role better. He hasn’t adjusted particularly well to nickel corner.  He’s been beaten in practice and in the preseason repeatedly. Godfrey was in on coverage on the play where Chris Hogan broke a big reception.  Now there’s a need, and he’s about the only experienced option the Panthers have at the moment. 

Oh Godfrey, the Panthers are in a pinch right now, and the secondary is a big part of the concern.  I’m interested to see how the Panthers try to address this weakness. Counting on Tre Boston to contribute is a bit far fetched.  Some believe that Colin Jones can help. We’ll be watching to see if Gettleman tries to pick up a road warrior like he did last year. He better be a gem, or you can hold your breath on every play where the front four doesn’t get at the quarterback.  Remember that last play in the Miami game?  Well that will be the spoiled milk if Carolina can’t plate the proper defensive dish this season. 

#C3 5th Round Draft Grade: Bene' Benwikere

Bene' Benwikere

Crew Critique

“Mel Mayock” aka @PanthersDrafter- So Bene Benwikere (pronounced Benay- Bin-wik-eree) is a guy that wouldn’t be playing CB if it weren’t for the competition he faced.  This guy was on the same high school team in California as Robert Woods (2nd Round Pick now with Buffalo), Paul Richardson (2nd Rd Pick now with

Seattle) and Marqise Lee (2nd Rd Pick now with Jacksonville).  This forced the high school WR to switch sides of the ball and the rest is history.  BB had 14 INTs while at San Jose St. and played both corner positions, safety, and nickel.  He is also a special teams standout.  This versatility, along with his intelligence is why, Dave Gettleman traded our 7th Rd
selection to move up 20 spots to select him.  Bene’s 40.5 inch vertical leap and his 21 on the Wonderlic test are two facts that have me intrigued with this pick.  While writing for DraftTek, I Mocked BB to the Panthers on several occasions but most frequently in the 6th Round.  He has good size but his downside is the 4.63 40 speed (not elite for a Corner).  Remember Brandin Cooks ran a 4.33 40 and the two may be lined up for years to come.  However, in our “Tampa Two” style Defense, Bene’s Football IQ is more relied upon than his speed--at least that’s the hope.  I do think he will see time at nickel this year and will be seen as a smart move in years to come.

Grade: B-

“The Professor” aka @Cat_Chronicles -Bene' “BenWorkingMan” has been puttin in work since he was a young pup. Just by looking at my man’s headshots, its clear he is meticulous as well (check this pretty Twitter profile). I’m torn about the BenWorkingMan.  He played against top talent in highschool, but he played mid-level competition in college.  The guy can jump out the gym, but isn’t the fastest horse in the stable.  In the end, it’s going to take Bene’ BeTheKeepWorkingMan to thrive in the pros.  Aside from his insane vertical, his measurables are adequate but not eye-popping.  The key for Bene’ is for him to get stronger without losing any quickness.  Let’s face it, a 4.60 corner doesn’t have much to give up anyway.  But if Benwikere can get NFL strong without sacrificing any quickness, he jam guys on the line and contest jumpers in the red-zone.  I don’t want to see him on the island against a guy like Mike Wallace if he doesn’t learn that beating guys up is what it will take if you can’t show them up.

Bene’ gets a working man’s B-.

Grade: B-

“Freakin Puerto Rican”- When looking at Bene Benwikere there is one thing that JUMPS out at you, it is the number 14. That would be his career interception totals. It really is a shocking number. Is the number inflated? Likely, but it surely shows one thing; this kid is around the ball.

He may not be the biggest (6ft 195 lbs), the most technically sound defensive back or the fastest for that matter, but Carolina does not play a lot of man coverage. He will be in a mostly what he does well--zone schemes. What I liked most from the little film I’ve seen is that he is solid tackler, tracks the ball well, plays with good energy, and doesn’t shy from contact.

Again the big thing is his knack for being around the ball. The Panthers will really be a contender this season if they are among the league leaders in turnover margin. We have some depth at the corner position on our roster. Bringing Bene in makes me think Josh Norman or Josh Thomas may have fallen outside the future plans of Dave Gettleman.  Bene will be given a fair shot and I can’t wait to see what he is capable of.

        Grade: C

Willie P (aka Chocolate Wonderland) - The only real knock on him is his speed. He's a smart corner, ok in man coverage, and  good in zone. At 5'11" he's able to get under the pads of those taller receivers and with a 41" vertical can defend the jump ball. Like most of Carolina’s draft picks, a lot of Benwikere’s flaws are coachable. Gettleman is putting a lot on this coaching staff of teachers. It's very possible the Benwikere pick pays dividends sooner rather than later.  Follow Willie (@Begasu26) on Twitter

Grade: B
“First and Ken” @Ken_Dye - When the Panthers missed out by one pick on CB Pierre Desir in round 4, they decided to haul up their britches, trade away their 7th rounder, and make sure they got who they wanted in the 5th in the form of CB Bene “The Fed Chief” Benwikere of San Jose State. Apparently, Panthers’ scouts knew the way to get there.

It looks like he’s going to be a bit of a “project” that will need to be gradually worked into the lineup; I think the thought process here was with all the nine-foot-tall WRs being drafted, if you can’t get a similarly large corner, get one who can at least get up in the air when he needs to.

The biggest thing that stands out about this kid is his ridiculous 40-inch vertical leap. He also plays the ball in the air very well and will contest catches against receivers a half-foot taller than his 5’11” frame. He should immediately contribute on special teams as a jammer and/or gunner, as he did in college.

What made him slide was his pedestrian 4.6-40 speed so he’s not a guy to cover a burner with. I see him as a slot/nickel corner at best as a rookie while contributing mostly on the special teams. Of course, injuries could force him into earlier action than he should see, and he needs to develop his upper-body strength. This guy’s skill set screams “zone guy” and he’s much, much better against the pass than the run. He’s a ball-hawk on passing plays but a liability against the run.

Since the Panthers traded up to get him, he’s really no “value” where he was taken in the 5th round, but the price was only a 7th-rounder and being frustrated with Desir’s being snatched when they were soooo close, I can certainly see the logic in trading up and making sure the Panthers got the guy they wanted. He likely never will be a big star player in the future, but in time and with development, could become a very good nickel corner or lower-end CB2 while his special teams ability should only help him stick on the final roster.

As for the “Quantitative Easing,” I sure hopes he leaves that off the field. I do know if he prints money like his semi-namesake, Ben Bernanke, he’ll most definitely be off the field - permanently! ;)
Grade: B

So what do you think PantherNation?  Tell us your grade on the Boston pick and be sure to watch out for our grades on pick 6.