Five Options For The Panthers At Pick 8

Five Options For The Panthers At Pick 8

One upside to a crappy season by the Panthers is that they get a pick 8th in April 27th’s draft.  The last time the Panthers picked in the top 10, they selected Luke Kuechly.  This is an opportunity to add talent to one of the more talented teams in the league.  Let’s take a quick look at some options and why I like ...

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Draft Week And C3 Draft Party Schedule

Draft Week And C3 Draft Party Schedule

This is the NFL Draft Week!  Cat Chronicles is obsessed with the draft and how it shapes the future of teams.  How guys like Aaron Rodgers being passed over by San Francisco in favor of Alex Smith and dropping changed the fate of Green Bay and San Francisco.  And specific to Carolina, how the much maligned Marty Hurney’s decision to draft a spread offense QB with questionable pocket awareness over the more “Pro-Ready” Blaine Gabbert has changed our franchise's’ history.  So this week is

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Draft Week Baby! What to Expect

The roster-building process may be a twelve month process; but no week is more important than draft week to establishing a team's’ identity.  A team’s superstars are generally not found through free agency.  Yes, there are exceptions to that rule, but relatively few.  Imagine if the Panthers picked Blaine Gabbert instead of Cam Newton.  And imagine if the Panthers took Quinton Coples over Luke Kuechly.   Wow, how different would this team be!

So sitting a pick 30, who can the Panthers select that has an impact on their identity?  There will be lots of options when the Panthers are on the clock, and Panther Nation is split on which direction to go.  Here are three ways we could go along with the reasoning behind them:


1-  Defensive End-  


The Panthers absolutely will draft a defensive end at some point in this draft. With Charles Johnson at the tail end of his career and Jared Allen having ridden off into the sunset, the Panthers have to grab some talent and they have to make an impact.  Generally, DEs take a year or two before they can make an impact so this would have to be the right guy falling for me to see this being the pick. The right guy for me is Kevin Dodd.  If he is there, he has to be the selection, unless one other guy is there.  Keep reading.


2-  Corner back-  

Quick, if the Panthers were to play this Sunday, who do the Panthers’ two starting CBs? That’s right, hmmmmm.  Losing Josh Norman is quite a blow and look for the Panthers to take at least two corners this weekend.  And if Mackensie Alexander, Eli Apple, or William Jackson are there at 30, don’t be surprised if that is how the Panthers go.  But more likely, the Panthers turn their attention to the likes of Kendall Fuller in the second round and may even trade up to do so.  Here’s a name to watch for the second CB that the Panthers select:  Harlan Miller out of Southeastern Louisiana.  He is on the Panthers’ radar and he reminds me of a combination of Bene Benwikere and Josh Norman.  Quick feet and a smart player, but will take time to develop.


3-  Running back-  

Alas, this is where I think the Panthers will go in round one.  Is this the biggest team need? No way.  But the first round of the draft is about finding the guy that you can put on your teams’ cereal box cover.  He has to set the tone for who you want to be. And with Jonathan Stewart entering his last year with the Panthers and most likely not playing 16 games, the Panthers have to find his replacement.  Yes, they could get someone later on or maybe even next year. But when your running game sucks, and you are a running team, then you suck.  See the Dallas Cowboys about that.  David Gettleman likes big and powerful men with traits that you can’t coach.  Kelvin Benjamin is the perfect example of what the team looks for.  There is no player that would be more exemplary of what the Panthers want to be than Derrick Henry.  If he is there, he will be the guy and will join Cam Newton, Kelvin Benjamin and Luke Kuechly as the faces of the Carolina Panthers.

This week is my favorite week of the off season and it is the most important.  Join the C3 crew this Tuesday night for our weekly Panthers show at 10:00.  But also, tune in on Draft Night, when we will have special guests all night long, and will just be having a blast talking about every pick.  And if you can’t get enough Panthers Draft info, here is an 82-page Draft Guide that focuses on our team, from our perspective and how each player would make sense in our scheme (or would not make sense).  Check it out, and check us out this week.  Leave us your comments and be a part of the voice of Panther Nation!


Posted By:  @PanthersDrafter

AKA Mel Mayock

Mel Mayock's Ideal DraftTek Mock

Mel Mayock's Ideal DraftTek Mock

As many of you know, aside from my passion of being a part of CatChronicles, I am also the Panthers’ Draft Analyst for DraftTek.  This week’s 7-Round Mock Draft was especially pleasing to me and I wanted to share how it came about.

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10 Draft Prospects To Be Excited About at Pick 25

10 Draft Prospects To Be Excited About at Pick 25

This is my list of the 10 draft prospects that will raise me out of my chair with excitement on Draft Day. Before reading my list, I want you to know where I am coming from. 

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10 Tackles in 21 Days: Tackle #10 Donovan Smith

10 Tackles in 21 Days:  Tackle #10 Donovan Smith

C3 is taking a look at 10 Offensive Tackles that the Panthers could end up with on Draft Day. This series will bring you 10 possible Tackles all over the next 21 days.  We will give you some little known information and some tape to check out.

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Worthy Panther Draft Options at Pick 25

Worthy Panther Draft Options at Pick 25

Here are some prospects that I see could realistically be available at the #25 spot in the upcoming draft.  And an explanation of why they would be a good choice in Carolina. 

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Blast from the Past: My 2012 first-round "wish"

When I wrote for over on the Fansided network, my then-editor asked all the writers to do a piece on who the Panthers should take with their #9 overall pick.

Since we're currently in "wait and see" mode in the offseason, I thought I'd reprint it and share it with our loyal readers here at CarolinaCatChronicles:

Click here to go to the original post.

With all the mock drafts, players going up and down like they do every year, everyone tries to keep a step ahead of the game and predict the impossible. In this particular column I’m sharing what I would LIKE to see happen.

Within reason, I’d like to see Carolina trade back, say with Philly at 15, so they can recapture their third rounder. Then, they’d take a Michael Brockers to add into the rotation in that defensive interior. They’d pick up a solid CB in round two and add a pass rusher with the second-rounder from trading back. It’s a deep class for WRs, so hopefully Carolina could pick one up later.

The problem lies in that there are a ton of players with similar grades this year and just doesn’t seem to be that urgency for anyone to jump up to 9 to trade, since the Dolphins’ pick at 8 is the real pivot point.

Unless someone HAS to have Michael Floyd or Fletcher Cox or Melvin Ingram at 9, I doubt there will be a trade partner there but you never know. 9 is too high for a Stephon Gilmore I think, and Buffalo has to be eyeing Floyd at 10.

If I had my way, I’d just go ahead and grab Luke Kuechly out of Boston College if available. While he wouldn’t help the pass rush, he would give the defense an instant upgrade against the run and be “The Guy” Rivera could build a defense around. Since Rivera is an old linebacker himself, it’s quite possible he’s thinking in this direction. With the injuries at the position they had last year, his addition would give them a lot of depth.

Kuechly led the BC Eagles in tackles his last three seasons and has no real weaknesses in his game. He has the range to get to the outside on runs wide and screen passes. He has the strength to hold up against the run in the middle and elite instincts to sniff out the play. The closest comparison I can make is Patrick Willis, and Kuechly has the ability to someday be an All-Pro…and sooner rather than later.

He’d be a 12-year star at the MLB position and even though it’s a passing league, teams can and will take advantage of your weaknesses. Drafting a QB for the defense would help stop the run and get everyone in that front seven to play just a little bit harder. He could be to the defense what Cam was to the offense last year and a great locker room influence.

Luke isn’t a sizzling, “sexy” choice. Simply put, he’s as good at what he does as anyone.

Perhaps as importantly, Kuechly could be the gel that holds the defense together and keeps them focused on their task. Rivera had Mike Singletary as a teammate when he played for the best defense ever, DAAAAA Bearsssss in 1986. A player like Kuechley could be a rare cornerstone-type MLB and I’d love to see him in Panther Blue.

As you can see, I'm not completely clueless! ;)

Follow me on Twitter @Ken_Dye

Panthers' Draft Shows Rushing the Passer Reigns Supreme

"Mel Mayock's" last post got me to thinking about how teams are built, what they do, and why they do it. I'm taking a bit of a bigger-picture look at things here.

There's a reason pass-rushers are in high demand every draft. I think the New York Giants have twice showed us as well as last year's Seattle Seahawks teams that the pass rush is the best thing your defense can do well to help you win games.

Of course, Carolina showed us the same thing. We led the NFL in sacks, had a very anemic offense, and won the division at 12-4. When Kony Ealy fell to us in the second round, David Gettleman snapped him up declaring "You can never have too many pass rushers." He's on board with the concept as well.

It turns out Ealy was a great pick for more than just the fact he was rated around 15th overall in the entire draft, but fell because of a slow 40-yard time.  As "Mel" pointed out, 10 and 20-yard splits are more important dealing with linemen because 1) it shows quickness
from start to top-gear and 2) if you're chasing a QB 40 yards, he's already scrambled and extended the play to begin with.

What you need in a pass-rushing end is a quick, explosive first step off the snap, hand techniques, moves and counter-moves to defeat the tackle, and short-area speed.

Yeah, it's nice that Jadeveon Clowney is as fast as Cam Newton is, and at 15-20 pounds heavier. He can chase running plays down from the back side and do a few other things to make plays that most guys can't, but we all know he's the exception and not the rule. 

That's where Ealy comes in, and already is more valuable to us than even just on draft day. While David Gettleman probably knew about reserve DE Frank Alexander's positive drug test (and likely suspension for four games), the episode with Greg Hardy and his insane girlfriend had yet to occur. Just in case he's suspended for "personal conduct" or what-not, it's GREAT to have that third, starting-quality DE on your roster.

The Kraken or "Big Money" Johnson could get injured. CJ missed a couple of contests last year if you'll recall. Reserve DE Mario Addison will be a free agent after this season and so will the Kraken, as he's franchised. 

Clearly, Ealy was not only a bit of a luxury pick but also a bit of a "need" pick, especially considering our division. Any bumps in the road to the current starters only raises Ealy's value to the team, and you know Gettleman's idea is to use Ealy as leverage in contract talks with Hardy. That much is a given.

Even if both ends produce and stay healthy, it's nice to have a guy like an Ealy come into the rotation and provide a fresh set of legs to chase after Drew Brees when the defense has been on the field a while and begins to get gassed. It's also a good idea to mix him in during the game to keep your starters' legs fresh in the 4th quarter - something I've seen numerous coaches do.

The reasoning behind this is what I hit on early in this article...the fact that the NY Giants beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl - twice - and we all saw the dismantling of the NFL's highest-scoring-EVER offense in the Denver Broncos this past Super Bowl by the Seattle Seahawks.

All three winners (NFC teams) defeated the AFC teams by keeping them from getting comfortable on offense. When a QB gets harassed and hit even without necessarily getting sacked, even if it's Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, they start getting "happy feet" and are affected psychologically. When a QB isn't getting protection, his performance inevitably falls. He begins to miss targets, throw the ball too soon, or otherwise become rattled and not perform the little things he's been doing to get them to the playoffs and/or Super Bowl. It also has a spillover effect as the others on the offense see what's happening, and their performances inevitably suffer as well. 

This is why the Panthers went 12-4 last year - even with an offense that couldn't hit 4 yards per carry in the running game and was dead last in plays of 20 yards or longer.

When we played San Francisco in Candlestick our offense could only muster ten points so the defense only allowed nine. However, it was a different story when they came to Bank of America Stadium in the playoffs - with their previously injured weapons intact. 

While the story STILL goes "Defense Wins Championships" and is as true as ever, having the NFL's worst offense puts an extremely heavy burden on that defensive matter how good it is.

What we saw in the recent NFL draft was a draft split evenly between offense and defense for Carolina. Gettleman's strategy was to get some help for the weak part of the defense - the defensive backfield - while making sure we can keep the heat on opposing offenses in drafting Kony Ealy.

On offense, he reached in the first round for a "project" WR in Kelvin Benjamin. I did NOT like this pick because it will take some time for him to develop, even more than other WRs left on the board like Jordan Matthews and Allen Robinson (Robinson is a favorite of mine). He also added a guard in Trai Turner, then wrapped things up in the 6th round with a between-the-tackles runner.

Gettleman basically made our strong points stronger - defense and the power running game, while addressing injuries the last 2 years at guard. He did NOT address any edge-blockers and that is my greatest concern about this draft above all else.

After all....if "you can never have too many pass rushers," it would seem to follow that you can "never have too GOOD of a guy to block such people," does it not?

I understand he didn't want to "reach" for a starting LT in the first round, bypassing Nevada's Joel Bitonio, but what gets me is that Kelvin Benjamin is NOT a "safe choice" either. He's a redshirt-sophomore coming off the game-winning catch in the BCS national championship game, but otherwise he had something like 39 yards in the game on 4 catches. A lot of that was due to Auburn's defense, but the game-winning catch was due to Benjamin's size....playing "above the rim."
"Mel Mayock" noted that both Kony Ealy and Trai Turner had the best 3-cone drill times at their respective positions at the NFL combine, showing that they are very quick athletes for their size.

This makes the fact that Kelvin Benjamin's 3-cone time for WRs was dead last that much more disconcerting. Of course, one would expect a slot-type WR like Brandin Cooks to have a good drill time but it would have been nice to see that Benjamin has some agility that he apparently lacks. Again - not my favorite pick in round one. 

At least the Panthers have edge-rushers in place for 2014 along with the NFL's top middle linebacker in Luke Kuechly....the "Man of Steel." Add in the Pro-Bowl talent next to him in Thomas Davis as well as an untested but well thought-of rookie from last year in AJ Klein, and that front-seven is even better than it was last year.

If the additions of Tre Boston and Bene "The Fed Chief" Benwikere can start paying dividends by the stretch run in 2014, it's possible that the defense can remain dominant. 

12-4 dominant? With the holes we still have on offense?

Unfortunately, I don't see it....not with the improvements the other teams in the division made.

More on THAT, later....

Follow me on Twitter @Ken_Dye 

One Piece of The Draft Puzzle: Expiring Contracts

Greg HardySome people see "the Draft" as a weekend event.  In reality, "the Draft" is a 365 day process of intensive evaluation.  This process has many moving parts that all fit together to form a large puzzle-like picture.  Preparations for the 2015 draft are happening as we speak. You can bet Gettleman is breaking the pieces down, whether it is roster composition, contracts, or evaluating free agency options.

One piece of the puzzle is scouting the prospects who will be playing on Saturdays this fall, and we’ll do plenty of that here at #C3 in the coming months.  But another, more understated piece of the draft puzzle deals with knowing your own team.  GM David Gettleman has talked about this a few times and has stated how important it is to know your squad.  I’ve started looking at
our squad, well at least one part of our squad.  When it comes to knowing your own team there are different pieces to that puzzle as well.  Some of those pieces are how your players perform in 2014, injuries, aging, locker room fit (see Steve Smith) and contract status.

When preparing for the 2015 draft, you have to start by know which contracts will be up after next season.  The Panthers have 17 contracts of note that expire after the upcoming season.  Evaluating depth at these positions and then deciding where your priorities in the 2015 draft are going to be is surely on Gettleman's mind.  The contracts of note are:  Greg Hardy, Dwan Edwards, Colin Cole, Mario Addison, Byron Bell, Nate Chandler (R), Gary Williams, Chris Scott, Jason Avant, Kealoha Pilares, Chase Blackburn, Antoine Cason, James Dockery, Josh Thomas, Colin Jones, Ed Dickson and Joe Webb.  To break that down, that is four D-Linemen, four O-Lineman, four D-Backs, two WRs, one TE, one LB and one QB.  Thankfully only the Kraken could be considered a “core” player, but this number of FAs will considerably impact our depth going forward.  Also, if any of these players have breakout seasons it can impact our cap-situation as well.  So these will be positions that I will be taking an extra close look at in the upcoming Scouting-Season.
Follow me on Twitter at @PanthersDrafter for ongoing discussions and updates on these positions.  Also look for an ongoing series focusing on how each move, each game, and each injury will impact our future draft needs.

Carolina Panthers 2014 Draft Class

The 2014 NFL draft came and went fairly quickly. There weren't too many big shockers this year minus the great Johnny Football falling to the 22nd pick. After the draft ended, everyone scrambled to research their new players and grade the teams on their efforts in the draft. The consensus for the Carolina Panthers draft class grade is at about a C.  
As a die hard Panthers fan, I’m torn between this year’s draft picks. Obviously, I’m giving the coaching staff the benefit of the doubt and I will grade the Panthers with a B-.
With the first round pick, the Panthers selected Kelvin Benjamin, wide receiver from Florida State University. Although I was hoping for an offensive lineman, I still really like this pick. Benjamin easily has the skills to be a starter at the beginning of the season. He is a huge target for quarterback Cam Newton, who has a tendency to let the ball fly high sometimes. Benjamin also gives the Panthers a different threat in the red zone other than Mike Tolbert smashing the ball down the middle. 

I wanted an offensive lineman in the 1st because this is the one position that the Panthers failed to address in the off season, whereas for the wide receiver position, three players were already picked up. However, Jason Avant and Jericho Cotchery are two veteran players who have a great positive attitude and impact inside the locker room. They should be able to take Benjamin under their wing and show him the ropes while staying out of trouble. That is probably the one thing that Steve Smith would not have been able to do.
EalyWith the 2nd pick the Panthers selected Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy. Ealy is a strong and versatile player who will definitely have an impact from the start of the season. This pick is one of the selections I’m on the fence with. It has nothing to do with Ealy’s physical ability to perform or make plays, but did the Panthers really need another defensive lineman? I understand the Panthers may be preparing for the future, but then what does that mean for this year. Greg Hardy is our best d-line player and he is currently on a one-year franchise tag contract that could send him out next year just like Julius Peppers. If that is the case, Ealy will easily find himself as a starter in that spot next year. However, I would have preferred to address the o-line issue and draft someone who can start this upcoming year and make a huge impact this year and continue onto next year. Aside from that, Ealy is a fantastic player and I welcome him into a Panther’s jersey with open arms.
Trai TurnerFor the 3rd pick the Panthers finally picked up an offensive guard. Trai Turner declared for the draft early from LSU and for this reason was picked up late in the 3rd round. However, Turner checked out of the combine as the fastest guard from the lot. He has fantastic potential and will easily compete for the starting position. I like this pick and consider it a steal for the Panthers because of the talent and performance Turner demonstrated at LSU and in the combine. He will have a direct impact on the offensive from the start of the season.

The 4th and 5th round picks were decent for the Panthers. The safety out of North Carolina and the cornerback out of San Jose State have great potential in the future. The Panthers secondary is very young but very athletic too. Tre Boston and Bene Benwikere will easily compete for playing time on the field and add pressure for everyone else to step up. I like these picks not necessarily because they are the best of the best but because they add depth to a defensive secondary that was plagued with injuries last year. I look forward to watching these young athletes take the field and display what they can do at the professional level.

The last pick for the Panthers was a doozy. No disrespect to Tyler Gaffney, running back from Stanford, but he should not have been picked by the Panthers. Gaffney easily has the talent to easily be a second or third string running back for many teams in the NFL. However the Panthers still have DeAngelo Williams, Jonathon Stewart, Kenjon Barner, and Mike Tolbert. I understand Stewart has a hard time staying healthy and he may get released soon but what about the other three players. There is no way Gaffney will have a spot on the first team. I would have preferred to just get another offensive lineman to add depth. I really hope Gaffney excels and gets picked up by a team that can actually utilize him and give him play time, but there is no spot on the Panthers for him.

Overall, I am pleased with this draft. Sometimes, however, it still feels that the organization has already scrapped out this upcoming season and they are just trying to build for the future. Everything depends on the health of the players and how well the new additions can adapt to the change of pace in the NFL. I still think the NFC South division is the toughest division to play in and the Panthers will have to fight tooth and nail to prevent history from repeating itself, going first to worst. Despite the complete start over mentality with the release of practically everyone on offense, I still have high hopes for at least second place and wild card spot in the playoffs.

Follow +Patrick Newton:  @SirNewton17

Carolina Panthers Draft

Unleashing the #C3 Podcast

The #C3 Crew, who have faces made for radio, is bringing you Panther media in all forms, video and now audio.  Check out our first Cat Chronicles show converted audio podcast.  It should be easy to access, and as all of our's FREE.  The podcast will be somewhat intermittent prior to the pre-season.  Once the season kicks off, it will be a weekly produced bit.  So do us a solid and check it out and pass it along!

That Draft's a Wrap.....Now What? Panthers Draft Review and Grades