Continuing our look at the Panthers draft picks, we will now move onto the team's fourth round selection of Oklahoma DE Frank Alexander. This was an interesting pick because Alexander could see himself playing more than a few snaps per game in his rookie season and could very well be a starter at some point in his career. How will he fit into the Panthers' system, though?We will take a look at that after the jump.no comments
There will be up to seven new faces in Charlotte this fall as the Panthers have made their draft picks and over the next couple of days, we take a closer look at these players so that you all can become more familiar with them. We will look at who they are, what their strengths are and what holes they fill on the team. To start things off, let's examine the Panthers second round pick, Amini Silatolu.
School: Midwestern State University
Who is Amini Silatolu?
Silatolu has been described by most scouts as a strong offensive lineman "with a mean streak." He has shown to be very aggressive on opposing defensive lineman and always manages to finish his blocks. He impressed a lot of people at the NFL Draft Combine with his performance in the speed and agility drills as he proved to be very agilie for a lineman. That combined with his strength and on-field performance won him over with a lot of scouts and there were some who projected him going in the first round.
He was part of a very strong offense at Midwestern State as they had the second best rushing offense among Division II schools and their strong offensive line was part of the reason for that. Midwestern State also averaged the highest amount of rushign yards per attempt in the nation. To add to that, Midwestern State had one of the best offensive lines in terms of pass protection as they allowed less than one sack per game last season.
Now, these stats do not tell you everything about Silatolu because there were obviously other factors that contributed to Midwestern State's strong rushing offense, there is only so much game tape available on Silatolu so these stats do help judge his performance a little. The raw talent is certainly there and the fact that he played a big part of the team's offensive line is also a good sign.
The questions surrounding him are mostly centered around his academic and off-the-field performance, but something else that might worry people is how he will perform against stronger competition. Midwestern State was one of the best Division II schools in the nation, but the level of competition there is obviously weaker than that in Division I programs. Opposing team's defensive lines will be a lot tougher to handle in the NFL and it will be interesting to see if Silatolu will be up to the challenge. He has the size and athleticism to be very successful in the NFL, though.
Why did the Panthers draft him?
Something that was overlooked by a lot of people was that Travelle Wharton was cut for monetary and cap purposes, and he was a very effective run blocker over the years. If the Panthers left this position unaddressed, they would be starting Mike Pollak at LT and that would be a severe downgrade. Having a rookie start in Wharton's place is also a downgrade but Silatolu has a ton of potential and can easily become a solid starter in the Panthers' system.
Something else to remember is that Jeff Otah has finished the last two years on IR and he is becoming very undependable at the RT position. The Panthers need some insurance there and drafting Silatolu gives them that. It was a little unexpected to see the Panthers take an offensive lineman with quite a few defensive tackles available, but they had other needs and Silatolu's potential was too good to pass up at #40.
In short, this is a very safe and solid pick for the Panthers, much like their 1st round selection, Luke Kuechly.no comments
The Panthers decided to play it safe and take the best guy available in LB Luke Kuechly in the first round, which was a fantastic selection but there are still other needs which need to be addressed. Fortunately for the Panthers, there were some teams that reached in the first round, leaving some very talented players still on the board and Carolina could easily grab one of them with their second round pick.
The way that I see it, the Panthers have big needs at defensive tackle, defensive tackle (for pass rush), corner back and wide receiver and they can take steps to filling those holes with their pick at #40. Who are the players available right now? We will take a look at some of them after the jump.no comments
The Carolina Panthers linebacking corps received a significant upgrade last night as the team spent their first round selection on Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly. I had mentioned a couple weeks ago that Kuechly could possibly be the best player available at #9 and that ended up being true as the Panthers ended up taking them with their first round pick.
It was a little interesting to see the Panthers spend a top 10 pick on a linebacker as they already have a decent corps with Jon Beason, Thomas Davis and James Anderson, but this pick makes a lot of sense when you take a deeper look at it. Kuechly was easily the safest pick that the Panthers could have made at the time as it appears that he has a future in the NFL no matter what and while LB might not be as big of a need for the Panthers as DT, WR or CB, it was an area that they needed to address in this draft.
For starters, Thomas Davis' health is a huge concern as he is coming off knee surgery for the third straight year. Kuechly is versatile in that he can play all three linebacking positions, so he provides solid insurance for Davis if he gets injured. Another thing is that there have been hints of the Panthers moving to a 3-4 type system next season, so even if Davis is still injured, Kuechly will find himself starting in this defense. Instead of reaching for a player who may or may not fill one fo their other holes on defense, they took the best player available in Kuechly who will be a key contributor to the Panthers defense immediately.
I talked about Kuechly a little bit a couple weeks ago, and there really isn't much to dislike about this kid. He knows the game well, is solid in both run and pass defense, is excellent at closing in on opposing ball-carriers and usually succeeds at bringing him down. Most draft scouts have compared him to the likes of London Fletcher, Zach Thomas, Pat Angerer and even Brian Urlacher. The Panthers will likely be happy with their pick if he ends up similar to any of those players.
He played MLB and WLB at Boston College, but he is open to play an linebacker position in the NFL and he could find himself spread out among the defense depending on who is healthy. Kuechly also played some special teams in college, which also fills a need for the Panthers.
In the end, Kuechly is a safe pick for the Panthers and he should be a solid contributor to their defense at the very least. They may have had other needs that need to be addressed, but they can be addressed in later rounds as there are still some very good players available. Kuechly should be an impact player in his rookie season and Marty Hurney should be very satisfied with the decision he made.no comments
Something that has come up recently in the news is that the Panthers are showing interest in drafting Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly. He has reportedly visited with the team and the coaching staff seems to like what he brings to the table. Keuchly is a terrific player and would be a nice addition to just about any team drafting him, but there haven't been a lot of Panthers fans that are on board with taking him.
Why is that? For one, he is a linebacker and will probably be taken in the first round given his impressive college stats and work at the combine. The general consensus is that the Panthers are set at linebacker and don't need to add another one, especially in the first round, when they have bigger needs to address. If they are going to run the 4-3 again, the linebacking corps is set with Jon Beason in the middle, James Anderson in the SAM spot and Thomas Davis at WILL linebacker.
Carolina would be strengthening their defense by drafting Keuchly but they would be just adding to a position of wealth while their defensive line and secondary will be relatively weak. However, there are some logical reasons for the Panthers drafting Keuchly, the main one being that he could be the best player available at #9 in the draft.
We will talk about this more after the jumpno comments
We will be continuing to take a closer look at players in the draft that the Panthers might be targeting and our next feature is on Virginia Tech corner back Jayron Hosley. The Panthers need for a #2 corner has been well documented and Hosely could very well fill that void as he has established himself as one of the ACC's top corners during his three seasons at VT. Most scouts have him listed as the fifth best corner in the draft and see him being picked in no later than the second round. Is he the right fit for Carolina, though? We will explore that and take a closer look at Hosley's game after the jump.no comments
Yet another low-key signing was made by GM Marty Hurney today as he signed safety Reggie Smith. For those who are unfamiliar with him, Smith was a 3rd round pick by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2008 draft. He started seven games at strong safety for the Niners in 2010 but played behind Dashon Goldson in a back-up role for most of last season.
Smith is a very talented defender and was great as a cornerback at Oklahoma University, he has yet to define himself as a starter at the NFL level yet, though. He is only 25 and did play well in the games he started during the 2010 season. It's also very possible that he could have been the starter last year if the 49ers didn't re-sign Goldson, so the door is still open for him to be starting in the NFL. It doesn't appear that the Panthers got themselves a future star, but it's never a bad things to acquire depth at safety, especially after last season.
The Panthers didn't exactly receive stellar play out of either Charles Godfrey or Sherrod Martin last season and Jordan Pugh is really nothing more than a depth option, so adding a player like Smith gives them more depth at a position of need. We saw them make a similar signing by acquiring former Baltimore Raven, Haruki Nakamura at the start of free agency.
Nakamura and Smith are capable of starting in this defense and Martin could definitely use some competition after going into last season as the incumbent starter and failing to live up to a lot of people's expectations. Smith and Nakamura should be competing for the starting spot in camp and even if they don't make it, they provide solid depth options and can contribute on special teams, as well.no comments
It's no secret that the Panthers will heavily address the defensive side of the ball in the upcoming NFL draft. The real question is, where do they start? The 2011 season featured a defense that was very thin and struggled to stop opposing offenses, both in the air and on the ground. Due to the lackluster performance, the Panthers ranked near the bottom of league in almost every defensive category. With a top 10 pick in this year's draft, Carolina has the opportunity to pick up a dynamic player who can come in and make an immediate impact on the defense.
The Panthers don't have to look far to find that impact player. Quinton Coples, from the University of North Carolina, is a local prospect with freakish athletic ability and the prototypical size and stature for a defensive end in the NFL. While many believe DT or CB are bigger needs for the defense, one could argue that a more effective pass rush will take pressure off these positions.
Last season, the Panthers only recorded 31 sacks, ranking 25th in the league. Teams were able to focus on the team's best pass rusher Charles Johnson due to the inexperienced DTs and lack of consistency from Greg Hardy on the other side. Factor in injuries at the LB position and the pass rush was, at times, non-existent. Opposing quarterbacks often had an excessive amount of time to throw the ball, leaving the secondary exposed and vulnerable.
Coples has shown throughout his college career that he is more than capable of being a dominant pass rusher. However, many question his motor or desire to play due to his somewhat underwhelming senior season. After the jump, we will take a closer look at Coples' impressive skill set as well as some of his weaknesses.no comments
According to Jordan Senn's twitter, the Panthers have opted to re-sign the linebacker to terms unknown. Senn was signed off waivers towards the end of the 2009 season and he's primarily been a special teams player since then. However, after a plethora of injuries to the team's linebacking corps, Senn started seven games as the team's weakside linebacker last season and filled in admirably.
He had 66 tackles in the seven games he started last season and 71 overall. He also had an interception and forced three fumbles. That is a very impressive line for a guy who was a third stringer beforehand. The team lost some depth with Dan Connor signing with the Dallas Cowboys, so keeping Senn around is a good move, especially after the way he played at the end of last season.
Senn is a very solid run defender, but pass coverage is the one area that he struggles in, and he was forced to play that role a lot as the team's weakside linebacker. In the game against Tampa Bay where I tracked pass coverage stats, every ball thrown Senn's way was caught and he allowed a few first downs, as well. I expect this to be an area that he works on during the off-season but he's 27 and pretty small for a linebacker so his ceiling probably isn't too high.
Still, keeping Senn around is a good move for the Panthers because the team knows that they can count on him to fill in if one of their linebackers goes down. It'll be even better if he can improve his pass coverage skills.no comments
In the weeks leading to the draft, we are going to be taking a look at some players the Panthers might be targeting. With the team having so many needs on defense, there's a lot of players who Carolina might be interested in. The purpose of this series is to help you, the readers, become more familiar with these picks and determine if they are a good fit for the Panthers or not.
To start things off, we are going to look at one of the somewhat local favorites, Stephon Gilmore from the University of South Carolina. Anyone who watched the Panthers last season knows that the team needs to strengthen their pass defense. Outside of Chris Gamble, they don't have any corners that are starting material. Captain Munnerlyn and Darius Butler would make good nickel and dime options but their play last season showed that they are not starters. Opposing quarterbacks could easily make Gamble not as much of a factor by picking on one of these two instead, which is why a #2 corner is needed. Gilmore is one of the players the Panthers have shown interest in and is projected to be a late first/early second round pick, so it's very possible that we could see him in Charlotte next year.
Is Gilmore a right fit for the Panthers, though? After the jump, we'll take a look at Gilmore's strengths, weaknesses and attributes to determine if he is someone the Panthers should target.no comments