It’s hard to argue with what the Carolina Panthers have done since second-year GM, Dave Gettleman took over a couple of years ago. They finished with a 12-3 record last season, won the NFC South Division of the NFL and lost to the San Francisco 49ers in a divisional playoff game. That was drastically better than the 7-9 season they had in 2012 where they finished second in the NFC South and missed the playoffs. I thoroughly expect Gettleman, and Head Coach, Ron Rivera will have a good game plan for the upcoming NFL Draft.
Everyone already knows that after cleaning house on his wide receivers, and the retirement of Jordan Gross, the Panthers need some big guys up front to protect their Pro Bowl Quarterback, Cam Newton, and they need to find some people for him to throw to, especially in lieu of letting perennial All-Star Steve Smith go because of salary cap issues.
The problem is, that after putting up the good season last year, the Panthers don’t pick until 28th, and War Rooms really have to do their homework to get good players, especially first year starters, with a pick that late in the first round.
There are two schools of thought here. Draft for team needs, or take the best player still available on the board, no matter what position he plays. Old-Timers like Tom Landry, Jimmy Johnson, and Al Davis used to say, you can’t coach speed, and an NFL team can never have too much speed on the roster.
That’s what I like about what Gettleman said in his press conference the other day when he said:
“When you make up your mind to take a position because of need, more often than not you’re going to make a mistake,”
I personally think he has things in focus, and will make the best pick he can with what is on the board when the Panthers are on the clock at 28. I don’t see him trying to trade up in order to hit a home run when a good base-hit will get the job done.
Gettleman subscribes to the age-old theory of drafting the best player available on the draft board. That blueprint worked last year when the Panthers selected defensive tackle Kawaan Short from Purdue in the second round even after taking another defensive tackle, Utah’s Star Lotulelei, in the first.
It appears that Gettleman and Rivera are on the same page. Even though they need wide receivers, they must protect Cam Newton if they intend for him to stay in the pocket long enough for plays to develop down field, and give receivers time to get separation. The last thing they need is for their franchise Quarterback to get hurt again trying to scramble around without protection.
I believe with the high number of under-classmen optioning for the NFL this year, the Panthers should be able to get a couple of wide receivers and some DB help in the later rounds. They could use a shutdown corner, but that’s not an option they should use while needing good offensive linemen, unless there is one available when they pick.
If it comes down to a decision, Coach Ron Rivera has already made. He said he would rather get protection for Newton than get a wide receiver.
“I think protecting him,” is more important, Rivera said. “You have so many opportunities to get playmakers on the field. Other than the quarterback there are five other guys who can make plays for you. I think right now what we’ve done is bring in guys who have the ability to make plays for us. I feel very comfortable with that.”
I am happy that The Carolina Panthers are in good hands, and when the decisions are made on draft day, everyone is on the same, and right page. I also think with a little luck they can get some well-needed players, and should be able to make the playoffs again this season, but think it will take some time to build a Super Bowl contender.
They are certainly on the right track, and I expect the best player on the board at the 28th pick to be on this roster when the season starts.
Source: Charlotte Observer