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Found 50 results

  1. *Note: All information is derived from this article. I highly recommend everyone click the link and view the analysis there. Anything in quotes or GIFs are from that website, so all the credit goes there. Goes over Shanahan's scheme and impact, along with Matt Ryan's performance and why it could be on a decline. Since @Jeremy Igo began a thread on the Falcons, I thought I would start one myself on a specific topic that's been talked about a lot. The Falcons have lost a lot of staff and coordinators after the Superbowl fail, as noted here: What I want to focus on is the loss of their offensive coordinator; Kyle Shanahan. If I were to compare this to the 2016 Panthers off-season, I'd say it's on the same level as losing Josh Norman. Kyle Shanahan was key in turning the Falcons into one of the most potent offenses in the NFL. Not only did Shanahan turn a wide cast of really good players into something special, he made cast-offs look like all stars. Kinsley (article author) sums up Shanahan's offense: What this essentially means is that Atlanta's offense was geared in a way to put less of the responsibility on Matt Ryan. He didn't have to make as many difficult reads or decisions as he used to in the past because Shanahan made it so Ryan had the easiest job in the league. Matt Ryan used to be known for checking down too often. His decision making was questionable, and he seemed to throw a lot of stupid passes. In Shanahan's scheme, Matt Ryan's role as decision maker was reduced. It's as if Shanahan changed Matt Ryan's settings from difficult to easy. Take a look at this GIF: Kinsley breaks it down in the following: When you look at Matt Ryan's 9.3 YPA, it's pretty impressive until you look for context. The fact is most of Matt Ryan's throws were thrown to wide open receivers who had a ton of space. This was all the work of Shanahan's scheme, and really shows you how much of an impact he was. The following example shows this: Kinsley breaks it down in the following: A very impressive playcall that helped create one of our worst days defensively, and you can thank Shanahan for that. With so much confusion and intricacy thrown in his plays, it's impressive to see just how often Matt Ryan threw to wide-open receivers with a lot of space ahead of them. Shanahan had his hand in nearly every impressive Falcon play there was. Matt Ryan had the simple task of throwing and working in his scheme, while Shanahan took care of the dirty work. Kinsley breaks down this play: A beauty. Shanahan takes playcalling to the next level, and the way it all plays out is just beautiful. He completely fools the Bronco defense with this play, resulting in Coleman's 48 yard gain. As you can see, Coleman was once again wide open for Ryan's throw, showing just how easy Ryan's job is. Shanahan inflated Ryan's stats considerably. When you look at Ryan's YPA, a large chunk is from Shanahan's scheme. Take a look at the following for context: Kinsley breaks it down: When you can throw to YAC machines and guys wide open in space, it's safe to say your year as a QB is going to look really good. Matt Ryan benefited a lot from his offensive coordinator and the talent surrounding him. If you take a look at Matt Ryan's 2016 season from the film, it's a beautiful work of art. With the way Shanahan designs and schemed up everything, it's amazing to see everything unfold in the way it has. The Falcons were able to get everyone open and making an impact while making Matt Ryan's life way easier. It set up for a Superbowl run out of nowhere and one of the league's best offenses in history. So, what now? Shanahan is no longer with the Falcons after taking a head coaching gig with the 49ers. The Falcons have a new offensive coordinator who doesn't appear to be close to Shanahan's level of creativity and ability. The issue really comes back to Matt Ryan, and whether he'll be able to make intelligent decisions again or not. It's fair to assume the offense will try to emulate what Shanahan put forth, but with NFL teams having a whole off-season to expose that, you won't be seeing a lot of new crazy ideas if it were to come from Shanahan. Ryan will likely have to work even harder than before to play at a high level as defenses sniff out Shanahan's old tricks and new playcalls that aren't as complex. One thing that should be noted is just how lucky Matt Ryan was in 2016. Take a look at this stat from Cian Fahey of Football Outsiders: Kinsley's article goes over those deficiencies and others as well. He brings up a valid point when talking of these mistakes: With Matt Ryan's arm not looking as good as it once was, and Shanahan not being there to guide Matt Ryan down the easy road, it's safe to assume the Falcons offense will decline in 2017. Shanahan was the best thing to happen to Ryan. His style of offensive and scheming allowed for a massive variety of open receivers and opportunities for Ryan to stack up yards and touchdowns. Despite not having the best individual supporting cast in and of the players, the coaching and scheming of the players allowed for Ryan’s most comfortable offense. With Sarkisian coming in, it's a case where you just don't know what you're getting. Coming from a college program, he could have his own share of creative plays the NFL doesn't know about yet. However, it's highly doubtful he'll be able to replicate the success Shanahan came up with. Combine that with the fact Ryan may be on a decline, and it's a much tougher situation. To sum it up: Shanahan made Matt Ryan and the Falcons look insanely good. The talent surrounding Matt Ryan made it easier as well. Everyone was wide open and did all the work for Matt Ryan. Now they don't have Shanahan, and Matt Ryan's arm strength may be on a decline. This should lead to a regression in 2017. Thoughts?
  2. Greg Olsen is arguably one of the league's best tight ends to date. His reliability, durability, and consistency enables him to be called one of the elite. Coming off a third consecutive 1000 yard season - only TE in history to do so - it's hard to imagine him getting any better. However, when looking at the stats, his potential may have actually been limited. The Panthers haven't had a true slot receiver last year, so Olsen was to compensate in that role. As the stats show, that was primarily where he was lined up most of the time. However, it was obvious that wasn't the best way to use him. As you can see, Olsen accounted for most of the work out of the slot, but it wasn't his best position. He produced far more when not there. Olsen is at his best when he's able to exploit zone defenses and get himself open. For example, put him in a few flood concepts and let his route-running expertise and speed overtake the defense. Olsen coming from the slot limits what he's able to do. With guys like McCaffrey, Samuel, and even Shepard at play to take snaps from the slot, Olsen is more free to be able to play where he's most deadly at. He potentially could be even better this upcoming season because of our new rookie additions, and that's a scary thought for the NFL. Just one small little detail that shows how deadly our offense could be.
  3. Daryl Worley had it rough from the start. Expected to be the #2 corner of a decimated Panthers secondary, it's certainly no easy task for any rookie coming out of college. The typical rookie corner would fail under these conditions. It's just hard to be a good corner right out of the gate. Even so, Worley took the challenge head on. Putting his best on the field, he showed growth week after week; his play getting better by the minute. What started off as a roller-coaster of horror ended in a steady stream of potential and growth. It's not far-fetched to say Worley is not that far behind Bradberry's game at this point. So, what made Worley's 2016 season so special? Are people overlooking just how good Worley is? Will Worleybird and Beastberry be making headlines in 2017 as one of the NFL's premiere CB tandems? Take a look at Worley's film. The answer is in his own play. Daryl Worley's 2016 Rookie Season In Review Coming in as a rookie, Worley needed all the help he could get. It's hard to expect Worley to be able to handle NFL receivers on his own. McDermott's solution was to have Worley give a lot of cushion to wide-outs in coverage. This helped Worley have an advantage against deep routes and getting burned, as he has more room and time for error. However, this often put him at a disadvantage at defending short routes and passes. Players gained good chunks of yards on Worley by exploiting this weakness. Hyde gets an easy reception for a good 6 yards on a simple short route. Although Worley does close in and show good tracking and tackling, he still had a whole lot of empty space in front of him begging for an easy reception. Granted, Bradberry also had the same issue of giving up a lot of cushion to wide receivers. Nevertheless, it still proves how limited Worley was as a new rookie. It was also common to see Worley let up on simple first downs. Worley often had a lot of help surrounding him, but to no avail. Worley's hips didn't flip as fast as they should've, giving the 49er wideout plenty of room to work with. Running his route, the 49er receiver had just the room he needed to make an easy first down reception on a 3rd and long. Worley didn't stand a chance at preventing the inevitable. To top it off, Worley was part of the reason Vance McDonald went for a long TD. During Worley's life alert moment, McDonald was able to weave through the Panthers defense for a rather easy touchdown. Without Worley being there in prime position to stop him, it was just a matter of out-running everyone to the endzone. The 49ers elected to do a sail concept in this play. TE McDonald takes a vertical release and cuts on the 7 route. Chip dialed up a cover 3 beater as he noticed the Panthers defense hinting towards that formation. Worley would've been in position to prevent this from being a touchdown, but tripping up nullified his role. Even with all these rookie mistakes, Worley still flashed potential. Discounting the McDonald touchdown, Worley never gave up a huge play all day. He showed he could deflect and defend passes with solid coverage in certain instances. Knowing that his receiver would go for the first down on an obvious 3rd and down situation, Worley sits and waits for him to come right into his trap. Having the 49er covered right during the turn, Worley comes in to break up the pass on a solid play. It's stuff like this that became more common as the weeks went by. Worley's start was rough. He'd occasionally whiff tackles, give up first downs, and hand over a lot of yards. As @CPantherKing said, Daryl 'Whiff' Worley gave up a lot of plays due to his inexperience. However, this incompetence didn't last long. Unlike popular opinion, I believe he showed starter level consistency beginning week 6. In fact, the amount of flaws in Worley's game dropped dramatically since then. Sure, the 3-4 yard chunks occasionally came due to McDermott's scheme, but rarely did Worley appear as the prime culprit of mishaps. After the Julio debacle that Worley partly contributed to, our secondary was the laughingstock of the NFL. Worley's game was like night and day as he went up against Mike Evans. With a little help from Coleman, Worley was able to lock up Mike Evans step by step. This forced Evans out of the play. It would take a picture perfect pass from Jameis - which he's not usually able to do deep - in order to give Evans a chance. Worley was in prime pass-breakup position the whole time, so even that possibility was low. Worley showed dominance he never did a few weeks before against Julio. It was night and day with his performance, stepping in for an injured Bradberry. Although he did give up one TD to Mike Evans that was all on him, Worley did real well for most of the night. It was this night when Worley made it clear he was learning and growing, and it showed. Later in the season, Worley stepped it up. The Panthers knew Worley was getting the hang of things, and it showed in their new playcalls for Worley. For instance, take a look at this defensive formation: Notice Daryl Worley in press man with the other half of the field in zone. This usually happens when the team is comfortable in your abilities to play one on one with receivers and win match-ups, which basically means the team considers you a solid corner. It was clear the Panthers began to trust Worley more and more as a viable starter. When playing press, Worley showed more comfort and fluidity than in the beginning of the year. His hips flipped at a much faster rate than normal and his timing impeccable. Against the Rams WR, Worley stands in press coverage and stands step by step with him. Turning and flipping his hips in rapid fashion, Worley ensures that his receiver does not get the upperhand. Don't downgrade his impact going one on one against receivers. In man coverage, Worley held down his man in picture perfect technique. Given his one on one chances, Daryl Worley really showed up. Unlike prior weeks, Worley was given more of a chance to go after receivers on his own without the need of having much help surrounding him. However, that doesn't mean he didn't make mistakes. Take for instance this play: For one, it's a weird defensive formation that got two Cardinal wide receivers wide open on opposite ends of the endzone. Worley and Coleman have some sort of miscommunication, leading to Worley's receiver being wide open for an easy touchdown. Without Coleman and Worley switching, the result was them getting jammed on the wrong guy. However, Worley showed tremendous growth from this learning experience. Take this other play from the SD game: Bill Voth explains it best here: Worley learned from his past mistake on a very similar play involving Antonio Gates. This is the type of stuff you just love seeing from rookies, and the pace Worley is learning the ropes is staggering. Daryl Worley's coverage kept getting better as the weeks went on. No longer did he whiff as much as he used to, nor did he seem to be as scared of going up against an NFL wideout. In his first interception of the year against SD, Worley was stuck like glue on his WR. Although a tad underthrown by Rivers, Worley was never beat the whole play. No matter if Rivers placed it perfectly or not; Worley was going to make a play on that ball. Later in the year against the Raiders, Worley and Bradberry got a taste of going against two of the league's hottest WRs in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Worley played lights out and had himself a really nice game. Going against Amari Cooper in the endzone, Worley stayed locked on and deflected a sure touchdown. Cooper had no chance with Worley draped all over him, contributing to one of Amari Cooper's worst games of the season. Worley actually went against Amari Cooper a lot more than originally thought and did really well. Going up against Cooper is no easy task, but Worley stayed put and did his job. Cooper would try everything to take advantage and get something out of these corners, but no one let up. First of all, Amari Cooper's footwork is a thing of beauty. It's not often you see NFL WRs carry out such beauty in their feet, but Cooper does this flawlessly. Worley counters by staying safe and not biting, forcing Cooper to retreat to the left for just a small gain. The thing with this is the fact there was a play just like this the prior week that led to a touchdown in Oakland's favor. The fact Worley negated this to just a small chunk is quite impressive. Worley's coverage was nowhere short of impressive. Against these dangerous WRs, Worley was unhinged. He stood strong and played his role down to the letter. In this particular instance, Worley finishes up with an impressive pass breakup. Staying step by step with his receiver and covering him up like a blanket, it's not that far off to say his play looks just as good as Bradberry's. His run defense is nothing to scoff at either. PFF was not kidding when they said Worley's one of the best rookie run defenders in the league. Worley comes in at blinding speed towards the edge, stonewalling the Raiders RB to a halt. With proper tackling form, Worley pretty much eradicates @CPantherKing's "whiff" nickname as he hones in on his target; taking him out swiftly and effectively. Worley continued to look better and better as the weeks went by. When faced with new challenges and situations, Worley took them head on and came out on the winning side. Against DeSean Jackson - Tampa's new WR - Worley stayed with him. When a Washington WR attempted to set up a pick against Worley, he simply brushed right past that attempt and forced Jackson to go vertical. The result was an incompletion. Finalizing his rookie campaign, Worley had his rematch against Tampa once again. Without missing a beat, Worley stood up to the challenge and played phenomenally. In this instance, the Buccaneers call 2 seam verticals. Carolina opts into cover 3. Worley does a beautiful job reading the play and causing a pass breakup against the Bucs receiver. Not an easy play for any normal corner to make, but Worley does it beautifully. Worley's physicality grew more intense as the year went on. He wasn't afraid to go up and get rough with anyone when need be. That was no exception against Jameis' offense. Worley goes inside and roughly pushes down the Tampa WR, disrupting the throw. Worley prevents a TD by getting physical and ensuring that the receiver had no chance of holding on to the ball. A very smart and savvy play by Worley. Man coverage was something Worley really got the hang of as the season hit its twilight stage. He stayed on his man consistently and locked him up well. Now, don't let my boy Bradberry's amazing lockdown of Mike Evans distract you from Worley. Worley was able to stay step by step with his man even when the WR put a move on him and turned around. Worley trailed and stuck on him like glue, eliminating him as a possible target. A lot better than the beginning of the year where a play like this would leave Worley in the dust. Worley's performance against Tampa was fantastic. It brought hope to many Panther fans about the future, and shut up the doubters for a moment. Worley shined and played like the premiere corner he was. Conclusion Daryl Worley had a very underrated 2016 campaign. He had a steeper learning curve to climb in comparison to Bradberry, but he showed up real well. For a rookie, you couldn't ask for better growth and development. Worley looked like his own by the year's end, and I'd even argue he's nearly on the same level as Bradberry right now. PFF gives a good review of Worley. After starting the season off in the 80s-90s, Worley finished off the season as the 55th ranked cornerback. His 75.4 grade put him above the likes of Revis, and fan favorites Trae Waynes and Delvin Breaux. He exceeds the likes of rookie Eli Apple who seems to be the media's other rookie darling. While his coverage is considerably lower than Bradberry's, his run defense of 79.7 puts him in the top 15 of cornerbacks. With Steve Wilks now manning the defense, it's not far-fetched to assume Wilks will be far more aggressive than McDermott was. With Worley and Bradberry both coming into their own, our defense will no longer have to compensate our linebackers or scheme to give our corners cushion. Add in Munnerlyn and this defense is sure to be scary good. Don't count out Daryl Worley. He isn't far behind Bradberry at this stage of his career, and he's only scratching the surface.
  4. Cam Newton had one of the worst seasons of his NFL career in 2016. His 52.9% completion percentage was easily one of the worst in the league. Many analysts everywhere were quick to use this as their excuse as to why 2015 was a supposed "anomaly" and make sure they don't even attempt to look deeper. In a very in-depth QB Analysis compilation, it appears that Cam Newton shouldn't be taking even half the blame for his low completion when you look at how everything went together. In fact, you'll probably be wondering how Shula still has a job after reading this. It's very concerning when you see play-calling had a very negative effect on Cam. Excerpt: _________________ Cian Fahey took a deeper look into quarterback play in his Pre-Snap Reads Quarterback Catalogue. If you’re a fan of football and words on pages, I highly recommend you check it out. He has gone through the trouble of charting every pass made by quarterbacks that played extended time and compiled his findings with stats that isolate the quarterback from their teammates and situations. These numbers paint a different picture of Cam Newton’s play in 2016. The main stat of Fahey’s catalogue is accuracy percentage. This stat measures the percentage of attempted passes that should be caught, discounting plays where the quarterback threw the ball away or was hit while throwing. Cam Newton was accurate on 71.2% of his passes, good for an underwhelming 24th in the league. But look deeper, and you see how impressive that number is. Consider this paragraph from the catalogue: It stands to reason that the more frequently a quarterback throws the ball deep, the lower his accuracy rate will be. Cam struggled a bit with his accuracy throwing the ball within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage, but he was terrific in every other range. He was the second most accurate quarterback in the league in the 11-20 range and the eighth most accurate on passes that traveled more than 20 yards in the air. Newton wasn’t putting up these deep passing numbers behind a Raider-esque offensive line. The Panthers used the most offensive line combinations in the entire NFL in 2016 and regularly found themselves using 3rd stringers and guys playing out of position to fill the holes. Despite the porous protection in front of him, Newton impressively only took 36 sacks on the season. So Mike Shula is expecting his quarterback to stand tall in the pocket and deliver deep shots down the field while the offensive line crumbles all around him on a regular basis. You’d like to have receivers that can create separation and give their quarterback some margin for error considering the precarious situation that quarterback finds himself in on a regular basis. The Panthers did not have those guys. Only one of the 33 quarterbacks that threw at least 200 passes in 2016 was let down by their receivers more. Newton lost 59 receptions to receiver error in just 510 pass attempts. In contrast, his receivers bailed him out just 11 times in those attempts, the 25th worst percentage among those charted. Accounting for these numbers, Newton lost 9.41 percentage points off his completion percentage and 1.48 yards per pass attempt, both most in the league. There’s one more way Cam Newton’s offensive teammates could help him out - gaining yards after the catch when they actually catch it. They couldn’t do that either. Just 38.24% of Newton’s passing yardage came after the catch, the third lowest mark in the league. The lack of a threat in the screen game didn’t help; only 4.79% of Newton’s passing yards came on screens. Only 4 quarterbacks had a lower percentage. ________________ When you look at the stats, his completion percentage looks like a downright miracle. The degree of difficulty Cam Newton was forced to endure was insanely high for any normal NFL QB. Forced to throw deep passes to WRs who can't get separation while operating under a patchwork o-line would be a nightmare for any QB. Avoiding pass rushers while trying to fit the ball in very small windows seemed to be an expectation from the Panthers staff. Cam Newton may have had a bad season on paper. But beyond the face numbers, it appears Cam truly had an underrated season. What say you?
  5. DE Mario Addison exploded for the Panthers in 2016. His performance that brought about 9.5 sacks in such a short timeframe of activity brought many Panther fans to hope for his future. Had he been active for longer than he was, he could've easily had a double-digit sack season and likely on his way to a very lucrative contract with another team. I recently scrolled through twitter and found an interesting statistic: Mario Addison had the third most QB pressures in the NFC South. He is only behind Robert Ayers and Cameron Jordan. I want to reiterate how Addison didn't have much playing time until after the bye week. Not to mention he was injured for a few games after he became more active. Having this much of an impact from the limited snaps he got is VERY encouraging. So, think Addison breaks out for double digit sacks next season and establish himself as a monster? What do you think?
  6. In the midst of the drizzle and sprinkle of rain and cloud, Russell Shepard shone. During the first day of the Panthers 2017 OTAs, Russell Shepard put on a clinic. He outperformed his peers with ease, making catch after catch like clockwork. He captivated his coaches, his peers, and his teammates all alike with his energy, skill, and effort. Russell Shepard went on the field making plays. With plenty of tough catches and finding ways of getting open, Shepard got plenty of good reviews from everyone present. However, one thing stood out. Shepard's talk and attitude was like a blazing fire on the field. He made sure his passion for the game was made known to everyone, and he was not afraid of getting fiery when he needed to be. Shepard's talk even grabbed the attention of Cam Newton, who everyone knows is arguably the team's biggest cheerleader. Shepard loved it. He made sure everyone knew what he thought of Cam Shepard loved the atmosphere. The fun talk, the plays he made, and the attitude everyone brought was just awe-inspiring for the former Buccaneer. Shep felt like he belonged every minute, and he certainly didn't mind. It was a beautiful beginning for a guy who started off his career barely making rosters. As an undrafted free agent, it's expected that a player's career would start off slow. But when the opportunities presented itself, Shepard shone through. Entering The NFL With A Bang Russell Shepard is a guy with a big-mouth. He's not afraid to let his thoughts out, and doesn't care how the media perceives it. He'll trash-talk, joke, and have fun all around, having not a care in the world what he says. His entry into the NFL was no exception. Russell Shepard's came into NFL in a wave of controversy. The Eagles signed Shepard as an undrafted free agent, after every other team passed up on him in the 2013 draft. However, Shepard's comments on being signed would perk up some ears. When doing an interview, Shepard revealed that he pretty much knew he would end up on the Eagles before the draft was over. Seems innocent enough, until you read into the wording. Controversy erupted, with many questioning how Shepard was able to evade being drafted and sign with the Eagles as a UDFA. They looked into the wording as if Shepard had already officially signed with the Eagles before the draft was over. This would be a clear violation of NFL rules and guidelines, and likely blown up into a huge scandal. Luckily, that wasn't the case. The Eagles released an official statement refuting that idea, and Berman of philly.com offered a logical explanation for Shepard's talk. It was very likely that Shepard got calls about people asking him about UDFA opportunities rather than calls about being drafted. Shepard's comments were overblown and misconceived by the media, as the interpretation was not representative of actual events. Russell Shepard would enter in and compete with the Eagles, but a surprise cut would come up in August of 2013, landing him back on the streets looking for a job. Working His Way Up When Russell Shepard hit the waiver wire, the Buccaneers were ready to grab him. Seeing something special in the undrafted rookie, the Buccaneers felt that they couldn't let this opportunity slide. In September of 2013, they put pen and paper together and signed Russell Shepard on the team. Now, the Buccaneers didn't know how to use him at first. He was too raw to start off as even a backup wide-receiver, and it's not like he'd be ready to return to his dual-threat QB position of high school. However, when they gave him some snaps at Special Teams, they saw something in him. That was all it took for them to see that Shepard's going to be a special guy. Russell Shepard would begin his career as a special team ace, while working on his skills as a wide-receiver. In his first three seasons, Shepard played in 43 of a possible 48 games, leading the team during that span with 30 kick-coverage tackles. Shepard cemented himself as the foundation of the Buccaneer's special teams group, and enjoyed every second of it. In 2015, Russell Shepard achieved the role as the Buccaneers Special Teams captain. Recognized for his steady improvement, energy, and skill on the team, Russell Shepard would receive that title with plenty of support. Everyone knew Shepard was an integral part of the team, and his drive and passion was awe-inspiring. Shepard worked hard to achieve that point. Every sweat, tear, and laugh was for something, and getting to the point he did as a UDFA was no small task. However, Shepard knew he wasn't done there, and he was ready to show it. The Beginning Of Something Special It was the summer of 2016. As usual, the Buccaneers held their annual training camp; a competition between NFL players to save their jobs. Only 53 men are be able to make the final roster, and everyone made sure they poured every ounce of effort on the field. Russell Shepard was back, ready to liven things up. Having a popular reputation around camp, he wasn't afraid of talking and getting everyone pumped up. Throughout the dog-days of the Florida summer, Shepard would be up and energetic, yapping and hyping up a storm. Shepard is well known as a hype-guy. One of the key reasons he even was a Special Teams captain was the energy and hype he brought around to all players around him. His fun talk and quirks all brought a smile and laugh from everyone surrounding him. His leadership was unmatched, and his passion untouchable. Even Jameis Winston had to surrender the title of most passionate player to Shepard. However, this training camp felt a little different for Shepard. Shepard felt he was much more refined and fluid on his routes, and he looked like a real NFL WR on the field. Things were beginning to click together, and the practice/experience he built up produced results. Shepard knew something special was brewing inside of him. The hard work and tireless effort he put in to reach this point started to look like it was paying off. 2016 could be the year that Shepard dreamed of. Russell Shepard began the year like normal; being a special teams monster. Racking up the tackles, Shepard did his job. Terrorizing returners, Shepard was a heat-seaking missile; aiming and directing himself at his target. Showing no mercy, Shepard would lay the wood on anyone that dared to stand in his way. Against the Panthers, Shepard was relentless. He gunned down our returners and helped add to our stat sheet as one of the league's most mediocre return teams in the NFL, and he made Ginn's day into a nightmare. Ted Ginn's hands are well-known for being made out of slippery butter, and his return skills sloppy at best. It was a trait the Panthers had to accept for their best speed threat. Combine that with Teddy Williams and you can see where this is going. When Ginn was attempting to return a punt, Teddy Williams came blazing in and slammed right into Ted Ginn. This caused Ginn to trip up and cough up the ball. Now, it probably wouldn't have been much of a problem had Russell Shepard not existed. Shepard's concentration and focus was on all game. When he saw Ginn cough the ball, he knew he couldn't just sit there and let it slide. As if by instinct, Russell Shepard leaped right towards the ball and fell on top of it. Positioning himself in a desirable situation, Shepard made the most out of this opportunity to recover a punt. He displayed blinding speed and ability to go after the ball. Knowing that every play he made would define who he is, Shepard made sure none of his opportunities went to waste. Shepard would continue on being a ST gunner. Tackling and pinning down returners was his job; his life. He would make pregame speeches and rally up his team, making plays all the while. However, Shepard's opportunities didn't end there. When Vincent Jackson was forced out of the lineup, the chance Shepard dreamed of materialized. Against the 49ers, Shepard entered the game as a WR2/3 for the first time in his career. An opportunity that Shepard knew only comes once in a lifetime, he made sure he made the most of it. Not only that, but the 49ers hosted Russell Shepard's old coach - Chip Kelly - who cut him from the Eagle's squad. Not only was this Shepard's best opportunity to show off his football skills, this was his best shot at showing the former Eagles Coach exactly what kind of big mistake he made. Russell Shepard added to his stat sheet that day, nearly reaching his total yardage of his whole career. He caught five passes on six targets for 77 yards and a touchdown. He looked like a natural on the field; his route-running fluid. Shepard's touchdown would involve leaving the 49er corner on an island and beating him with a beautiful move. It was a fantastic showing for the Buccanneer WR. Shepard was able to make the most of his opportunity and made a huge impact. His teammates sat on the sidelines, watching it all play out, with Jameis Winston smiling; overjoyed at how all their hard work paid off. Russell Shepard didn't stop there. Against the Oakland Raiders, Shepard kept making the most of his opportunities. Shepard gained a touchdown and achieved a modest amount of yardage in the looks he was given. Shepard ran a 7 route and seemed unaffected by a late jam, making a gorgeous catch in the endzone. It was plays like this that Shepard knew he had the potential to make. To see them come to fruition on the field was the cherry on top after all the hard work he put forth. Route-running and playing corners started coming naturally for him, even when it really was his first season receiving so many looks. Shepard would continue on his streak of solid play. Against the Chiefs, he would gain 54 total yards, catching 3 out of 4 targets for huge chunks and gain. When Cecil Shorts went down later in the season, Shepard would just keep on getting more and more opportunities. Against the Seahawks, he would gain a good 23 yards on 2 catches. Showing off a good deep hitch route up top, Shepard gets himself open fast to grab the ball. One thing the Carolina offense loves to utilize are deep hitch routes. They had a knack of working out well whenever Carolina used it, and Shepard's no stranger to the route. One of his primary routes appear to be deep hitches, and he looks smooth through and through. When faced up against the Cowboys, Shepard was given a look and turned it into yards. One of the interesting things about this play is how Shepard would come back and adjust for the inconsistent ball Jameis threw. Rather than let it be another dud from Jameis, Shepard turns the play into a positive and gets a huge chunk of yards. Shepard was having the year of his life. Having already eclipsed his total yardage for his career prior to 2016, it was a memorable time for the ST captain. Against the Saints, Shepard put on a clinic. Shepard exploited the Saints defense through his route running and speed. Whenever he was given the slightest space, Shepard would make the most of it. On the above deep hitch, Shepard grabs the ball and pushes himself upfield for even more yards. He completes the task efficiently and well, looking clean and polished. His route running was stellar for a guy who came in as a UDFA some years ago. Russell Shepard kept up his impressive showing. Taking an inside release, he creates leverage on the Saints DB. Topping it off with a skinny post, Shepard makes a very tough grab with a DB wrapped all around him. Jameis may have looked like a complete idiot, nearly botching up the snap, but Shepard looked like a high quality wide receiver. Shepard finished off the day with a total of 61 yards, averaging 20.3 yards per catch. A very productive day, Shepard played well and made the most of it. No longer just a special teams ace, he was a key contributor in the Buccaneers offense, helping out when the opportunity presented itself. Russell Shepard finished the 2016 season with a total of 2 TDs and 341 yards on 40 catches, averaging 14.8 yards per catch. Eradicating his career total of 91 yards and 1 touchdown past, Shepard showed up, and had one of his best seasons yet. Shepard's Future With The Panthers When Russell Shepard signed with the Panthers, he was excited. Just the culmination of everything's he's been through, and the opportunity the Panthers presented led to Shepard's joy when he signed the dotted line. When he says he's an energetic guy, he means it. He's on the field talking up a storm and having fun. A guy very much like Cam Newton in his talk and demeanor, and a peak at the Saints game is no exception to this. No wonder Cam Newton was in love with him at first sight. Shepard even shows a knack of turning any bad situation into a sentimental one. When Thomas Davis hit Shepard with a very rough tackle, Shepard didn't mind much. Davis made sure he apologized immediately, and tempers were never raised. In fact, Shepard was fine with the whole situation, even turning it into a sentimental memory. Already having a connection with current Panthers special teams coach Thomas McGaughy, Shepard mentioned how he owed his career to him. McGaughy saw the potential in Shepard. McGaughy coached David Tyree - known for his helmet catch from Eli Manning in the Superbowl - who was also a quality ST ace for the Giants. When he met Russell Shepard, he saw a guy with more athletic ability and potential than Tyree ever had. Shepard's role with the team will be far more than what he saw with the Buccaneers. Filling Philly Brown's role, Shepard will get plenty of looks and chances to make an impact. In fact, his skill may even allow him to challenge Funchess for the #2 WR job. He will be an integral part in revamping our ST corps - with Cash - and making his mark known in the league. Shepard knows what his role will be with the Panthers, and he's ready to make the most of it. He's been through so much already, and he knows his future is only beginning to unfold. To prove to the NFL he's ready to make a mark. ________________________ Read my prior condensed analysis of Shepard here:
  7. Julius Peppers. Number 90. Just saying that name ignites waves of nostalgia throughout the Panther fan-base of one of the greatest Panthers to ever wear the uniform. Picked at #2 overall in the 2002 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers, Julius Peppers was one of the sport's greatest athletic freaks. Measuring at 6'7", 290 lbs, he played like he was 250 lbs with speed and athleticism unlike any other. His mere presence on the field sent shock-waves of fear throughout NFC South QBs, understanding they were about to face one of the best talents in the NFL. Peppers would have a very productive and monstrous stretch with the Panthers. From 2002-2009, Julius Peppers would only have 2 seasons below double-digit sacks, with one of those years being due to him being placed on IR with a knee injury. His play would elevate him to one of the most recognized Panthers of all time, with his jersey being iconic for the franchise. However, the 2009 off-season did not treat Peppers well. Marty Hurney - GM for the Panthers well-known for his outrageously overpriced contracts - would be unable to retain one of the most important Panthers on the roster. Peppers would not take the situation well at all, and made sure he let his disdain known. He felt the Panthers were insincere with their approach to getting a long-term deal done, and felt the silence from the Panthers was offending. Peppers would go on to play with the Chicago Bears for four years, then the Green Bay Packers for another three. In those years, he would have multiple double-digit sacks, never going below 7 sacks in total. He would play as an Outside Linebacker in those stints - something Peppers wanted to do when he was free from Carolina. He would remain largely injury free and looking ageless on the field, terrorizing QBs as if he were 23. Finally, 2017 came. Julius Peppers would become a free agent, and a notable opportunity popped up. DE Charles Johnson - unofficial Panthers GM - would strike right at Peppers and attempt to reel him back in. The Panthers front office has changed dramatically, with a new GM who Julius Peppers could repair relations with. Peppers would take the opportunity and come back home with a smile. With old feelings aside, Julius Peppers signed a one-year deal with the Panthers. Hoping to rebuild his relationship with Charlotte, Peppers came back with the goal of simply earning back the love of the Panther fan-base. Coming back on a homecoming tour of sorts, the Panthers look prime and ready to achieve great things in 2017, with Julius Peppers being a huge part of the effort. "An Ageless Wonder" Year after year passed. Season after season, Julius Peppers stood strong. Age never seemed to affect him much, producing year after year and yielding results. Currently, Julius Peppers is at the ripe old age of 37 years old - not exactly young in NFL terms. Nevertheless, Peppers has overcome the odds and produced quality seasons, having only one season below 7 sacks during his injured year in Carolina. See his season stats for yourself: A small crop of the media subdued the impact of Julius Pepper's return, citing his age being a factor. They believe Julius Peppers is done; his career finished. They simply can't comprehend Julius Peppers still making an impact at such an old age. Julius Pepper's has something to say about the naysayers. Panthers DL Coach Eric Washington agrees. He does not see age limiting Julius Peppers in any way in terms of production or impact. In fact, Washington doesn't see much of a change from when he last saw him seven years ago. It's well to note Washington does not give this kind of praise lightly. It's no fluff piece. When he says something, it's usually something you can take for fact. Washington does not see any signs of Julius Peppers slowing down. Julius Peppers is the epitome of one of the NFL's most ageless wonders. No matter the age, it appears father-time can't get quite the large hold on Peppers. Producing Sacks Even At His Old Age The Carolina Panthers did not bring in Julius Peppers just to let him sit on the bench and rot. They brought him in to produce and get sacks. The contract the Panthers gave Peppers has plenty of sack-incentive rewards, which shows they expect Julius Peppers to hit the ground running. Once again, Julius Peppers produces even with age. PFF recently released a chart showing Julius Peppers throughout the years, and while the tail-end of his career shows a slight decline in average, you still can't deny Julius Peppers is still a force. In fact, 2016 was one of his better seasons with Green Bay with some arguing 2015 was better. Even when age should've caught up with Peppers by now and show a steady decline in ability, the graph shows that Peppers actually got better. Julius Peppers' 2016 season is not something to look down upon. The Packers put him in a more limited role in snap counts, but they did not expect him to be sitting doing nothing. Peppers would help repay their efforts by exerting quality play on the field. Peppers would begin the season with a 1.5 sack performance against the Vikings. Showing his ability of getting after the QB, Peppers would help crumble their weak offensive line and get the sacks he needed. Showing his athleticism and intelligence, Peppers would pressure the QB and target him when the opportunity presented itself. Peppers jumped off to a fine start. He would pressure QBs and impact plays like he normally does. He is a fine technician as a pass rusher, and that has not changed one bit. His overwhelming weight and power pushes back offensive linemen like they weigh nothing. Against the Cowboys, Julius Peppers would face his first true test. Arguably the best o-line in the NFL, the Cowboys offense employed a juggernaut; a near impenetrable wall of meat that gives any defensive coordinator headaches. Peppers would rise up to the challenge and produce. Julius would rush right by stout RT Doug Free and slam right into Dak Prescott, forcing a fumble recovered by the Packers. A monstrous and speedy play. Nothing easy of the sort against any guy from the Cowboy's o-line unit. He would contribute and impact the game in plenty of ways, and helped the Cowboys defensive unit in any way possible. He wouldn't stop there. Later, the Packers would face the Falcons, and Peppers would not disappoint. Lining up against the Falcons RG in a mismatch situation, Peppers would take advantage of the situation. On the inside, Peppers would come in and eradicate Matt Ryan's attempt to scramble. Peppers would slam Ryan right to the ground where he belongs. Sure, Julius Peppers may not have had the most eyebrow raising start, especially considering he was still getting used to the Packers new system of employing him in certain situations. Rather than being an all game DE, the Packers employed him more as a pass rush specialist in a reserved role. Peppers still didn't really enjoy his start, even though he achieved 3.5 sacks. Peppers felt he was leaving a lot on the field, and he could've done far more. Rather than being a force Peppers expected himself to be, he felt he was focused on getting used to how he was being utilized more than being able to focus on the game. After all, Peppers had an average of 28.9 snaps per game, which is considerably lower than his first two years at Green Bay (2014: 48.5 snaps; 2015: 41.8 snaps). Peppers would soon get his wish, as he would begin a stretch of back to back sack games in the later season. The Redskins would be well known in 2016 to have a pretty stout offensive line. With Kirk Cousins known for getting out the road in decent time and solid guys up front, the Redskins had a pretty strong offense. This was not going to be an easy task for anyone; even Julius Peppers. Even so, Julius Peppers would emerge. Going against RT Morgan Moses, Peppers would be an impact player in the game. He would get the leverage against Moses and go right after Cousins for an easy sack. In the following game, Peppers would continue his hot streak of getting sacks. Against the Wentz led offense of the Eagles, Peppers would in and provide pressure to the young rookie. Even with the tackle holding Peppers, he still was able to break free and push Wentz to the ground. Not an easy feat for anyone to do. This is the type of stuff you'd expect to see from HoF caliber DEs in the NFL, no matter the age. Being able to push and power through the odds to get right to the prize. In the next game, Peppers would come off with another sack and solid production. In the frigid cold and snow that enveloped the field, the Packers would come in and give the Texans a game. Peppers will grab himself another sack to extend his back to back sack games to three total, pinning Osweiler to the ground. Against the Bears, Peppers would once again show up and produce. He comes blazing off the edge, snatching the ball right off the QB's hands for a strip sack fumble. Beating the tackle who challenged him, Peppers would come in and get himself a football. Finally, Peppers would show up where it mattered most - the Playoffs. When the bright lights shone right on the Packers in the big moment, Peppers would come in and produce. Against the Giants, Peppers achieved a sack. Lining up on the right side, Peppers would come in and beat his tackle, smacking down Manning when he attempted a scramble towards him. This play would cap off a very productive season from the 36 year old veteran, whose play seemed to defy the odds of age itself. Peppers would comment on his sack against the Giants, and how pivotal it seemed. Peppers would finish off his 2016 season with 8.5 total sacks counting the postseason. Just 1 sack away from Panther's DE Mario Addison's sack total, Julius Peppers would've been by far the 2nd best sack specialist on the Panthers defense. His production speaks for itself, and age doesn't seem to be able to touch Peppers much at all. The Packers knew this very well and how special Peppers truly is. His play at such an old age is not normal, and the effort he puts in the game is unlike any other. McCarthy and Hyde all had glowing words when speaking of Julius. The Future, And The Carolina Reaper's Comeback Tour Julius Peppers always wanted to return to the Panthers after some point in his career. To end right where his career started and where most of his life was wrapped around was a dream come true for the HoF Caliber Panther great. First thing that Peppers wanted to achieve was rebuilding that relationship with the Panthers fan-base. He knew the way he left made many fans bitter, and his tactics of showing his distaste led many to call him a traitor against the organization. Even so, Peppers wants to leave all that behind and plead with Panther fans his case, and earn their respect back. Peppers felt he's learned a lot in his time out of Carolina and grown as a person. In his interview, the notable change in poise and confidence greatly differs with his shy, uncomfortable demeanor when talking to the press when he left Carolina. Julius Peppers comes back knowing he probably won't be able to achieve the greatness of his prime on the Panthers, as age will always win out in the end. His role will be limited due to such, but already coming from Green Bay experiencing what it's like to have less snaps, Peppers should be more than ready to make the most of those opportunities he's given. When asked about his role, Pepper's smiled. He already knew what his purpose was going to be with the Panthers when he signed the contract, and he was ready for the challenge. He knows this role will only help to squeeze out a few extra years out of his career, and help him remain a high quality pass rusher. With other stout pass rushers coming around him, Peppers game should only trend and continue upwards. Returning back in his 4-3 DE role, Peppers should fit in nicely and produce well. With new rookie Daeshon Hall coming in, Peppers will also be expected to mentor Hall and help him ease into the NFL. His impact from a veteran standpoint will be huge; much like a better version of Jared Allen in a way. Helping those around him get better with his experience and growth is something Peppers should be able to live up to. Julius Peppers did not come in to sit on the bench. Gettleman signed Peppers expecting him to impact the team in a major way. The 37 year old Carolina Reaper is in no ways done quite yet. Don't ignore what Peppers has done recently and in the past. He will be back, giving NFC South quarterbacks nightmares once more. Bet on it.
  8. Taylor Moton is one heck of a hogmollie. A proud 6'5" 320 LBs, Moton moves like he's 220. He's got the body mass and power to be a dominant tackle in the NFL, and a superior guard when need be. The PanthersWire provided a very decent breakdown of Taylor Moton's game. While I still plan on getting on with my own breakdown of Moton's game, this particular article has a very nice breakdown of its own. Enjoy: http://pantherswire.usatoday.com/2017/05/18/film-room-what-taylor-moton-brings-to-the-table-for-panthers/ Western Michigan enjoyed a fantastic year in 2016, running the table in the regular season, winning the MAC Championship and earning a berth in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl. One of the reasons for their amazing run was the fine play of offensive lineman Taylor Moton, whom the Carolina Panthers selected with the 64th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Moton is a versatile lineman, having played both guard and tackle. He mostly played right tackle but spent 2015 at right guard. Let’s take a look at the tape to see what Moton brings to the table for his new team. Check out this clip from Draft Breakdown of Moton against Georgia Southern in 2015. Moton is very strong in the run game but his pass protection left a little to be desired. That would improve as his career went on. It may not be perfect, but Moton at the least gets a good anchor and doesn’t give up a lot of ground. And before you say he hardly faced competition, he more than held his own against a strong Wisconsin defense in the Cotton Bowl, which included T.J. Watt, the 30th overall pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Vince Biegel, selected by the Green Bay Packers at No. 108. This clip is my favorite play from Moton as he’s able to mirror Biegel while he attempts a spin move to get around Moton. Let’s get back to the run game for a minute. Moton shows quick feet and the ability to pull and move. Here he is in 2016 against Georgia Southern, where on the first play, he has to pull and reach the outside of the defensive end and he does a fantastic job getting to his spot quickly, swinging his hips and immediately getting his body between the defender and his running back. The play may have been a short gain, but it was through no fault of Moton’s. Moton has a knack for dominating the competition. He will come out and shove away lightweight defenders like rag dolls. In the following play, Moton does a nice job pushing off the defender right into the F gap, completely dominating and destroying this man's career. His power and run blocking chops make him a great fit in Carolina and he can potentially start at right tackle if needed. The Panthers also have him learning the blindside, as well. A lot of emphasis is placed on the left tackle position because just about every NFL quarterback is right-handed, but many teams employ excellent pass rushers on both sides of the line. That said, teams still tend to have a power run blocker on the right side, particularly when they get help from the tight end. Moton should make an excellent addition to Carolina’s offensive line.
  9. It all began when Bradberry was fixing his mom's toilet. It was 2016 when the NFL Draft commenced to the second round. Names were called, with cheers and tears decorating the scene of hopeful prospects, excited about the chance of fulfilling their dreams. Bradberry was sitting in his mom's humble home with friends, parents, and sister all watching the TV; patiently waiting and hoping his name would be called. Coming from a small school in Samford, Bradberry knew that he was going to largely be under the radar. Even so, he felt his skills were superior to most other prospects in the draft, and he made sure that fact was known. As the second round came towards the end, James Bradberry lost out on hope. He figured he would have to wait until the third round to hear his name called. As the TV went on announcing other inferior prospects, Bradberry's mother motioned for his ear. She told Bradberry that he needed to go fix her toilet. Bradberry agreed, assuming that his name wouldn't be called until a little while later. Then, his phone rang. Bradberry put down what he had on hand to listen, and the rest is history. "I'm Not Josh Norman. I'm James Bradberry" Coming in to Carolina, everyone was ready and armed with Josh Norman comparisons. After all, the Panthers have just recently released their All-Pro corner to free agency after negotiations between Gettleman and Norman's incompetent agent went nowhere, so it was only natural the next guy in would be put to the test. Bradberry doesn't like that comparison. He wants to build a name for himself, not in the shadows of any other corner or All-Pro. Cam Newton decided to provide a little help to Bradberry's goal in his own way. As per tradition, Cam Newton was armed and ready to pronounce a nickname on the new #24. A very interesting nickname indeed. Very fitting for any guy who demands respect. With Bradberry's polite, calm demeanor, it's pretty much polar opposite of his on-the-field aggressiveness, but that's just a part of who James Bradberry is. A humble guy who doesn't like flashy things and won't say much, but a guy who just wants to make an impact in a major way. His mother always told him to remember that there's always going to be someone better than him and to never be satisfied with where he's at. Wise words, and stuff Bradberry keeps very close to his heart. The Beginning: Building That Name For Himself James Bradberry's 2016 season began against the defending Superbowl Champs with the Denver Broncos. It was during this time Bradberry got his first taste of what an NFL regular season game looks like, and he didn't do half bad. For a rookie, he made quite the impression that night, containing WR Demaryius Thomas to only four catches for 48 yards. Even Thomas had to comment on such an impressive performance by a rookie. However, the Panthers lost that night as Gano's did what he does best; miss clutch field goals. Bradberry provided a very swift assessment as to why he was the cause of the Panthers' demise. Even so, Bradberry knew that this was not going to be the defining point of his rookie season. He was out to make a name for himself, and Bradberry knew he needed to put forth the work if he wanted to achieve that goal. As Demaryius Thomas said, Bradberry needs to put in that hard work if he wants to get better. In comes the 49er game. Arguably one of the worst teams in the league, the Panthers were ready to pounce and demolish the talent-less 49ers to a pile of rubble. The day started off a bit slow before the Panthers hit high gear, finishing off the Gabbert-lead 49ers 46-27. Easing plenty of Panther fans' fears of a possible Superbowl collapse, this score and performance reminded fans of the danger the Panthers present to the league. James Bradberry's performance was top-notch. Although it was against 49er receivers, Bradberry had a field day. He intimidated and dominated the talent-less receivers, shutting them down with every move. Bradberry would also show up in run support. Against the 49ers, he was able to sniff out RBs in open space and shut them down. He was putting together a top-notch performance, sort of like a revenge tour after what he deemed was a "poor debut" against the Broncos. Bradberry capped off his performance with a solid interception of a pathetic throw by Gabbert, shoving and twisting the knife of a loss right down the throat of a demoralized 49er team. Cam Newton came rushing in, being the first to congratulate Major Bradberry on his first career interception. Overall, James Bradberry finished as the best performing corner that day, eclipsing Josh Norman's own amazing performance. Finishing at a 93.3 grade, Bradberry turned plenty of heads and eyes as a potential match-up nightmare. Throughout the season, it wasn't easy for Bradberry or Carolina. The Panthers defense started off really slow, with its usually dominant front seven being near the bottom tier of the NFL prior to the bye week. Bradberry wasn't getting any help from that. When Bradberry first faced the Falcons, it wasn't good. Before getting hit with turf toe, Bradberry tried a few looks of his own against Julio Jones, and it didn't go over well. He would later leave the game early with turf toe, leaving Bene to get burned for 300+ yards. Worley would also get hit with the injury bug, and the Panthers would be forced to play the Saints with Zach Sanchez and Teddy Williams as starters. To put it in short: The Panthers defense entered the bye week as one of the worst in the NFL. Bradberry would look to change that when he got back. Redemption: Solidifying His Name Bradberry and the Panthers would come back firing all cylinders. With the rejuvenated and restructured defensive front, the Panthers came back once again as one of the NFL's most feared fronts. Bradberry would be back healthy and ready to do his job. In a rematch against the Saints, Bradberry made his presence known. Able to make prevent a TD in a play you only see elite corners make, James Bradberry was ready to turn around and completely dominate. To compare, one could simply look at how JNo didn't fare well on a similar style play against us. James Bradberry would hold off Saints WR Brandin Cooks to 42 yards on 7 catches. A very solid day indeed. Later on, Bradberry would take on Raiders WR Amari Cooper. Cooper was coming off a fantastic season, dominating the league with his stellar big-play ability and 100+ yard days. A huge test for an up and coming corner. Needless to say, Bradberry brought career lows that day. Amari Cooper caught just four of seven targets for a season-low 22 yards in Sunday’s game, only one of which coming in the second half. According to PFF.com, Cooper’s final grade on the day was 51.1. A very poor grade that Bradberry just seems to hand out even against "fortuitous matchups." Soon, Bradberry would be ready to face his biggest challenge yet once again in Julio Jones. Their first meeting didn't go over too well, but Bradberry would be looking to change that. To redeem himself and the Panthers, Bradberry knew he would have to bring his best game yet. Bradberry would take on the challenge and come out on top, finishing off Julio Jones with 1/3 catches for a total of five yards. On a short pass, Bradberry locked on to Julio Jones and flopped Jones straight to the ground for Julio's only 5 yards against Bradberry. A very strong and athletic move you don't see normal corners make on Jones. On another play, Bradberry was able to beat Julio Jones' press and completely lock him up. Matt Ryan never considered throwing to Julio's way after seeing how tightly locked up Julio was, and threw the other way instead. Shutting down Julio Jones seemed to be a part of Bradberry's instincts. Keeping Julio Jones from being a major contributor, Bradberry rose up to the challenge and shut him down. If Luke was healthy and if Cam was as well, we could've very well stopped the Falcons from getting a win. In one of Bradberry's best plays of the year, he was able to stay step-by-step with Julio Jones. Mind you, Bradberry was forced to remain in trail coverage with Julio Jones having inside leverage in what should've been a huge gain. Bradberry remained in pace with Julio and broke up that pass. Bradberry redeemed himself against Julio Jones their second go around, and the NFL realized that maybe the Panther's secondary isn't as bad as it seemed. For anyone watching the game, the loss was certainly not either of the corners fault, with a whole host of reasons in front of any blame falling on the Panther's backfield (minus Tre Boston). To finish off a spectacular season, Bradberry would grab his second and final interceptions of the season in one of the most acrobatic moves that you don't see normal men make. With that interception, Bradberry achieved his goal. He made a name for himself, being one of the most impressive rookie corners the NFL has seen in a while. Looking like a solid veteran starter, Bradberry made the most of his opportunity of his rookie season, and turned some heads. PFF would finish off grading Bradberry as the best rookie corner from his draft class, ahead of guys like Jalen Ramsey and Tavon Young. With plenty of work and ability to improve on, Bradberry has only scratched the surface of his potential. With a full off-season of training and work ahead of him, Bradberry will surely be looking to solidify his name in NFL history. So, How Does The Future Hold? Bradberry is a guy who soaks in information from coaches. He's like a sponge; he'll take in any advice and apply it. This off-season, Bradberry will have plenty of film to work with and soak every juicy bit of information he can muster. With a constant drive to improve, Bradberry will look to get better. His pass coverage will only get better as he gets used to the NFC South's elite receivers, and his instincts will be refined when he hits that sweet spot of his career. One thing Bradberry could improve on is attempting to go for the ball more often. He only had 2 total interceptions his rookie year, and he could certainly look to trust his instincts more. Nevertheless, Bradberry's already proved he could be an elite shut-down corner real soon. The Panthers upgrade on defense should certainly help. Getting rid of a prime reason our pass-rush was terrible in Ealy and replacing him with Hall and Peppers is a definite upgrade to the same unit that was 2nd in the league in sacks, and adding CB Captain Munnerlyn, Corn Elder, and SS Mike Adams will only help to strengthen our safety and nickel positions, allowing our corners and linebackers to have plenty of help. With Steve Wilks now driving the defense as DC, it's very likely we see a lot of formations that will highlight the strengths of our secondary. Wilks was our prior secondary coach who was one of the best in the league, and his defensive mind will only strengthen Bradberry and his role on the Panthers. @Mr. Scot went over the change nicely in the following thread: For next season, Bradberry is very prime to already hit a breakout season. He has potential to achieve his first pro-bowl season if he keeps working his hardest. Plenty of people have already taken note of this potential, as certain sites are already naming Bradberry as their number 1 breakout player for next year. However, one thing will always remain true. Bradberry did not enter this league hoping to be a good replacement for Josh Norman. He doesn't want to be compared to any all-star corner or anyone at all for that matter. All that matters to Bradberry is that people remember his own name - James - and no one else. Major Bradberry. Already making a major impact in the league, with major potential in his future.
  10. With the media hyping up the Panther's offense, there's a ton of reason to hope the Panthers are ready to take over the league by storm. Although our defense is massively underrated, our offense is getting the attention it deserves. Bleacher Report is no exception to the hype machine. An extremely good read. I just had to post it here, it's something you have to look at. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2710132-the-panthers-have-the-weapons-to-conquer-the-nfl-with-option-football?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=programming-national Here's what the Panthers shouldn't do this season to take advantage of all their new offensive weapons: Line Christian McCaffrey up in the I-formation. Give him a first-down handoff up the gut for a gain of two. Then, if Cam Newton cannot make something happen on second down, bring Curtis Samuel off the bench for—surprise!—a screen pass that the entire defensive line knows is coming. Yawn. McCaffrey and Samuel are multidimensional playmakers who completely change the complexion of the Carolina offense. Instead of pounding the ball between the tackles (sometimes with Newton) to set up deep shots, the Panthers are now built to get the ball to playmakers in space, both on the perimeter and short in the middle of the field. In other words, this is a team that is custom-tuned to bring the option back the NFL. Free Cam Newton The Panthers already use a lot of option principles, of course. They just aren't getting enough bang for their buck. Or too much bang for their buck, if by "bang" we mean "hits on Cam Newton." Newton rushed 73 times on designed running plays last season, according to the Football Outsiders database. He gained 308 yards and scored five touchdowns on those runs, the touchdowns all coming on goal-line plays. That's a lot of rushing, and frankly, 4.2 yards per carry are not really worth the additional hits it meant for Newton. Part of the problem was many of those designed runs were not options. A few were sneaks for short yardage. Many were quarterback draws or inside power runs, with no option for a handoff or pitch. Franchise quarterbacks shouldn't be hammering the football up the gut twice per game, but excluding sneaks and scrambles, Newton ran between the guards 32 times last season. Another problem was the stale design of coordinator Mike Shula's option package. In the second quarter against the Chiefs in Week 10, for example, Newton lined up in a diamond formation, with Jonathan Stewart to his left and receiver Corey Brown behind him. The play design was a triple-option: Stewart looked for an inside-zone handoff to the right, but Newton pulled the ball and ran left, while Brown fanned out toward the sideline as a pitch recipient. The Chiefs sniff out a 2016 Panthers option.Tanier Art Studios Problem was that Brown's presence in the backfield alerted the Chiefs to shenanigans. They loaded the box. Their backside defenders responded to the play like they just emerged from an option seminar with Nick Saban: The edge defender crashed on Stewart, a linebacker replaced him to contain Newton and a safety slid into the alley to neutralize the Brown threat. Newton took a hit and gained zero yards. McCaffrey and Samuel give Shula the opportunity to put option pitch threats in the backfield, the slot or wherever his imagination leads him, without tipping his hand to the defense. Both McCaffrey and Samuel also possess the speed Stewart now lacks, making them more effective weapons on plays to the perimeter. No more Newton between the tackles. No more Corey Brown. It's time for the Panthers to option smarter instead of harder. (Read the rest on the BR link above) A very good article expounding on many possible concepts the Panthers could employ.
  11. The Panthers are starting to realize even father-time makes no exceptions to cyborgs like Thomas Davis. According to Bill Voth, Steve Wilks mentions that he believes Shaq Thompson will be coming in quite a bit to help Thomas Davis rest and alleviate him for plenty of plays. Shaq's role will increase in 2017: For those of you who are unsure as to whether Shaq Thompson would be a good placeholder for Thomas Davis, consider the following three elements necessary for LB success: Coverage Run Defense Blitzing Here's a quick look at each of these elements in action (credit to @BillyM_91 on twitter for the gifs): 1. Coverage Shaq Thompson shows excellent coverage ability on this play. Staying foot with his assignment and pressing right in front for the interception. Reading the QB, Shaq Thompson was able to time his jump just in time to grab the ball from Rivers and bringing home a prize. A quality play showing Shaq's ability as a true linebacker 2. Run Defense Like bread and butter, Shaq Thompson is nasty when it comes to run defense. He will bend around the outside and push through tackles to get to his prize. His eyes are like lasers, dissecting the runningback at hand to come in and make a solid play. Both these examples highlight just how well Shaq's run defense is. 3. Blitzing If you're coming in to take Thomas Davis' spot, you better be a good blitzer. In this play, Shaq Thompson rams right through the runningback and throws his hands up in the air. The result was the QB being disrupted and throwing a quick dud. Shaq Thompson shows excellent ability as a blitz guy. Conclusion So, from these quick GIFs, one can simply conclude that Shaq Thompson is more than a competent replacement for Thomas Davis. As much as I love Thomas Davis, I think it's more than warranted for him to rest and freshen up his tired legs as he hits the twilight years of his career. Shaq Thompson shows he's more than capable of being a solid fill-in. What are your thoughts?
  12. A very good breakdown of our draft prospects in a statistical manner. Comparing data from old trends to our prospects, and predicting the likability of success in certain tiers, this provides a wealth of information for the stat geeks who love comparative analysis. The content creator says the following as an explanation for where the data is from: Here's the video: Certain things to highlight: 1. RB Christian McCaffrey - One Of The Best Market Share Scores Since 1969 Essentially, market share when evaluating players is simply what it is - comparing the prospect with other similar prospects and seeing how they compare. McCaffrey scored above and beyond everyone else in this metric, shattering through the rankings as one of the top prospects he's ever evaluated on the runningback side since the 1960s. He gives the following analysis of McCaffrey on his website, which I will show some of here: McCaffrey''s explosiveness, speed, and flexibility are top notch in comparison to other athletes, and validate his placement as one of the best prospects from the 2017 draft according to the analyst. He believes McCaffrey showcases traits you don't see from normal prospects, and has a high chance to achieve multiple All-Pro seasons. That's some crazy good stuff. 2. DE Daeshon Hall - More Potential Than Taco Charlton Taken As A Steal The analyst talks glowingly of Daeshon Hall. Comparing Daeshon to Taco as prospect, they both have plenty of raw traits. Nevertheless, they're similar in how they're of prototypical 4-3 monstrous DE size, and have a lot of potential. However, Hall's athleticism is far superior to Taco Charlton in nearly every category. When it comes to explosiveness, speed, and flexibility, Hall annihilates Charlton in every category. He also has superior stats in a lot of other areas in comparison to Charlton, making him a well-rounded project to work on for a few years. Makes sense, especially when you see how athletic Hall looks doing drills. Flips the hips and explodes with every step. A kid with a lot of potential 3. OT Taylor Moton: Extremely Similar To Former Panther Jordan Gross Taylor Moton may be smaller in height in comparison to some tackles, but that doesn't look like much of a problem when compared to OTs of similar style. In fact, he's pretty similar in comp to Former Panther Jordan Gross according to the analyst. He likes Moton's insane athleticism, and his all around traits. He compares and projects well, and he believes Moton has a very bright future from the stats. Some good stuff. What do you guys think?
  13. An interesting twitter debate took place recently concerning the Panthers VS The Buccaneers Offense. A guy from PFF is standing firm in his belief that the Panthers have had the superior draft in comparison to the Buccaneers and will field a superior offense. Take a look: "The matchup potential of this Carolina #Panthers offensive personnel is just incredible. #NFL teams just don't have the defensive personnel to go one on one with them. Teams with a defensive matchup weapon at all tend to only have one of them, and the Panthers now have three guys to cover. Oh, and their QB is some guy called Cam Newton, who poses his own matchup problems... So excited for its potential." A very good argument. Even so, I'd add on how overrated DeSean Jackson has been. He's a fast WR who doesn't scare many. He's also getting up there in age, and he's really only a one-trick pony. The Panthers may as well truly have the better offense to the Buccaneers.
  14. Cam Newton. 2015 NFL MVP turned to 2016 afterthought. The NFL hates him. The media hates him. It's been that way since Auburn, and there appears to be no end to the mayhem. Everyone is out with their storylines of typical Cam hate, while he keeps on proving everyone wrong. One of the most typical cases against Cam is that he's a running quarterback who is very inaccurate. They claim he can't make any of those passes, and forcing him to throw against the defense will prove to be his downfall. He proved everyone wrong in 2015. As the moniker went, "Contain Cam and Double Olsen," it seemed that plan would never work, as the Panthers went on a 14-0 stretch, finishing off with an eventual 15-1 record. Teams made Cam Newton pass, and he completely annihilated them. However, his 2016 season resurfaced those arguments. Arguably his worst year as an NFL player, Cam Newton was beaten and battered behind practice squad players for his o-line, and his accuracy took a dip. The naysayers point to that year as the true view of what Cam Newton really is as a quarterback. The common argument everyone uses against Cam is his historically average to low QB rating. Cam Newton's QB rating has never been top notch, and that's an undeniable fact. What no one accounts for is the surrounding talent around him, and how that affects that rating. When his receivers can barely catch half the time and get little separation, that's going to be a factor. Heck, even Kelvin Benjamin's highlight reels shows this problem. As amazing as this catch was, this still proves the point Cam Newton doesn't have much to work with. A very tight window to throw into that Kelvin Benjamin somehow snagged. Kelvin Benjamin usually wins with his size, not separation, but even that was limited last year. When that happens, he's about as useless as far as helping Newton as the rest of the WR corps. The Panthers WR corps barely got much separation, and that's a problem if you're not Kelvin's size. Even Funchess had issues with this. This made life a lot harder for Cam Newton, and thus made him look like an "inaccurate QB." Not only that, but Shula is plenty to blame for making Cam's life miserable too. Matt Harmon went over this problem in greater detail in an article he posted a while ago. As seen here, Cam Newton threw 24.9 percent of his pass attempts into right windows, which have been defined as when receivers have less than one yard of separation. That's not a good stat for any QB, and not something anyone would want to be the top in the league with. His wide-receivers actually helped to HURT Cam Newton rather than help. An unexpected twist Gettleman didn't expect, and Shula just poured fire on. The flames of chaos are what resulted with the team built. Yep. Kelvin Benjamin came dead last in getting separation, with Funchess not far behind in 4th place. While Kelvin Benjamin has his massive size to help compensate, it's still not the most ideal situation at all. And with Funchess being inconsistent as ever, he didn't help matters at all. Cam Newton's situation was absolutely terrible. However, Shula deserves a ton of blame for Cam Newton's short-comings as well. After all, he's the one that forced Cam Newton to be in the situation he was in. Effectively, Cam Newton was forced to hit the hard and difficult passes most of the time. Scheme forced him into a situation where his accuracy would take a toll. Shula made Cam Newton throw in plenty of uncomfortable situations, whether airing it out deep or away from the numbers, which caused his accuracy to dip. Harmon emphasizes that Cam Newton is an accurate passer, but he isn't going to hit every tight-window difficult throw Shula seems to enjoy torturing Newton with. A lot of people argue that Cam Newton is the one forcing himself to throw deep on every play rather than hit the short pass, but Harmon presents it in another way. Rather than Newton requiring himself to be a deep passer. In fact, this problem was evident all throughout 2015. Believe it or not, this problem of being forced to throw downfield existed. No one cared because it worked, but Cam Newton truly was in a very tough situations no QB in the league has had to go through. Cam Newton deserved MVP for more ways than one that season, but if difficulty of passes were an option, Cam Newton would be passing that by far. And he has Shula to thank for making his life difficult. Cian Fahey goes over it in greater detail in an article posted last year. As if Newton's job could get any harder. 2015 was a complete miracle of a season given the fact Newton was pitted in a horrible situation, but 2016 showed what happens when Shula kept up with his silly shenanigans. Do you not realize how hard it is to even throw when your wideouts can barely get a yard of separation. Just imagine having to do that with defenders roaming the backfield as you have 7 out of 11 offensive personnel working on just keeping Cam Newton standing. The odds were against Newton the whole time. Yet he consistently delivered time after time. I just want to emphasize this. 77.1% accuracy throwing downfield under pressure. You have 7 men focused on keeping you upright, with the rest having less than one yard of separation going deep. Yet Cam Newton had a 77.1% accurate rate in 2015. And people say he's an "inaccurate QB." He was the offense, and sustained that high level of play for a whole NFL season. No easy feat however you look at it. However, it was expected this "put everything on Cam's shoulder" wouldn't work for much longer. 2016 showed that what happens when Cam Newton is literally the offense, and when it's futile to even expect the Panthers desecrated o-line to make an impact. So, how should the Panthers fix this problem? Matt Harmon offers a solution below: Simply put, the Panthers front office rectified this issue by adding two play-makers in Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel who both can gain separation. Now teams have to respect the fact these two are present on the field, and easy targets for Cam Newton to get the quick passes to. Not only that, but I also believe free agency helped a bit in finding another quality WR in Russell Shepard who could surprise people. Don't disregard his ability as a receiver, as he's can get separation really well. Another argument made against this is that Cam Newton isn't accurate if he doesn't throw 20+ yards down the field. They say he's terrible at the short and intermediate passes. Well, this statistic should make you rethink that real quick: A 72.37% accuracy rate. In the 11-15 yard range. The two players above him are Brady and Rivers, both QBs well respected for their superb abilities. Cam Newton is among them. And let me remind you, that's WITH the type of receivers Cam Newton has, and the low amount of separation they're able to garner. So, Is Cam Newton Really Inaccurate? Answer is simply no. He has had no one on his WR corps who could gain separation, and Shula didn't help at all. He was able to prevail against the odds in 2015, but that luck wouldn't last long into 2016. Gettleman has figured out this was a real issue, and made moves in free agency and the draft to better equip Newton with weapons. Armed with guys who can separate and make plays, Cam Newton has a lot more new shiny toys he's never had before in his career. Fact of the matter is, Cam Newton is accurate. He just needs the right tools around him to finally breakout, and 2017 may just be his lucky year.
  15. The Panthers have finally completed their rookie camp for this year. With new rookies coming in from the 2017 draft class, they all did their part in showing to the coaches what they were made of. A bountiful amount of UDFA and tryout players were on the field as well, hoping to have a possible shot at making it to training camp. It's a fun time, with football-related action in full-swing. Players coming out and competing for spots, and hoping to show the Panthers they belong. Here's a glimpse of what happened from the rookies themselves in GIF form: RB Christian McCaffrey A man among boys. That's what Christian McCaffrey looked like on the field. Igo best describes McCaffrey here: That's pretty descriptive of the elusive running style McCaffrey employs. A beautiful work of art. When he was on the field, it was a mismatch everywhere. No matter what a defender would try to do, McCaffrey would counter and be better. Just his presence was a mismatch. Everything about him was a mismatch. Just watch a mismatch take place here as he sends a defensive back's soul to a better place: McCaffrey just has a knack of getting open and making plays. He dominates the competition in rookie camp and proving his worth as a first round pick. Aren't you glad to see that this is the end of the Fozzy/Ginn/Webb returner days, and a new era for the Samuel, Corn, and McCaffrey returns? McCaffrey shows he'll be a solid addition in that area. Again, you could just see the refinement in running from McCaffrey, and how good he truly is. He seems to glide rather than run, and that's certainly someone I'd love to see paired with Stewart. His effort level stands out the most. You know he'll be a willing blocker, and his technique in practice is looking good. Anytime you stand a dummy or defender up wth a decent roll of the hips, you know the guy can pass protect. McCaffrey is going to be fun to watch when training camp comes. WR Curtis Samuel Curtis Samuel was also a man among boys. Igo said he was the guy who stood out among everyone at training camp, and his comparison is someone everyone will certainly remember: In fact, it reminded me of a comment I remember reading a few days ago concerning Samuel's comparison, and it was none other than to Smitty himself: Anyways, Samuel showed why he was drafted with the Panthers 2nd rounder on the field with his performance. Standing out in probably the best way possible, he completed passes and made plays that will get anyone excited. Utilizing his speed, he bullied defenders out there like they were still statues. Curtis Samuel climaxed his performance with the best catch in the camp, throwing out his body and catching an insane one-hander to cap off one heck of a performance. A lot of people like to argue that Samuel has "questionable catching skills" because he occasionally body-catches, yet his stats say otherwise. According to Brandt, Samuel posted 74 catches without a drop in 2016. CFB Film Room reports that Samuel had a drop rate of 3.2% and OSU's most reliable receiver. The above highlight just solidifies the fact that Samuel will be a reliable speed option for Cam Newton, and a monster for our offense. FB Alex Armah Armah's a big fella. Standing at an imposing 6'2", 253 pounds, he's got the mass and build of a freaking bulldozer. Any linebacker unfortunate enough to face him in the future will likely be in a very unfortunate situation. However, what's also insane is how athletic he is. According to Tony Pauline, Alex Armah ran a 4.68 40, had a 34.5" vertical jump, a 10'2" broad jump, a 4.29 20-yard shuttle, a 7.00 3-cone, and had 26 reps on the bench press. That's some insane athleticism. In rookie camp, Alex Armah was able to display some of that on a few drills. While the available media doesn't show much of him acting as a blocker or any of that sort, it does show his running ability, and how athletic he truly is. When he runs, you could just see the effort and athleticism on display, and just how much of a nightmare it would be to see that 253 lber run right at you. Certainly not a prospect any linebacker in the NFL is looking forward to. @Jeremy Igo is certainly in love with this kid. A nice change of scenery from the tub of lard Tolbert has become. DE Daeshon Hall Daeshon "Dae Dae" Hall is a very athletic and big prospect. Standing at 266 pounds with length inside (35+” arms), he ran a 4.76 40 (1.67 10), 4.38 5-10-5 shuttle, and a 7.03 3-cone. Hall has plenty of room to add muscle to his 6’5” 266 frame, and looks the part of a prototypical 4-3 DE. On the practice field, Hall worked to show his athleticism on full display. What one could notice from a simple drill was how fast and long he looked. His agility was on display, and his length was out to show off to the coaches. He will definitely need to add more muscle and strength to his frame - evidenced by being man-handled by Moton all day - but he's got the traits to succeed. His frame has the potential to add plenty of weight, and a year of NFL conditioning will get him where he needs to be soon. OT Taylor Moton Taylor Moton is a big man. At 6'5", 320lbs, he's a tough hogmollie to bring down no matter how you look at it. His intimidating size just demands attention, and he won't let anyone get the best of him. In rookie camp, Igo reported that he dominated in all his assignments, including against Hall. He is also one of the better pass blockers from his class. PFF has him as the 3rd best in pass protection according to this chart. So it's no wonder you see such explosion and effort when you watch Moton complete some drills. I sat appalled that none of the equipment broke with how much force Moton put with his effort. A big guy who will fill in nicely for LT or RT. A future to look forward to. LB Ben Boulware One of the bigger stories this draft class is Clemson's own Ben Boulware. An intimidating guy, he has the strive and love for football you just want to see in every player. Coming to BoA stadium 90 minutes early one time and sitting in his car just shows his absolute determination to make an impact on the team. You can see that energy and yearn from the way he does his drills. He attacks with everything he has, and you can tell that he's putting all he can on the field, hoping to prove all the naysayers wrong. A guy I'm actively rooting for to make it on the team. Would be a fantastic learning opportunity behind Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly, and a quality player to boot. Conclusion A high quality rookie camp with many players and storylines to go along with it. These rookies left a mark on the field today, and there's no doubt in my mind next year is going to be special. With the amount of weapons Cam is about to have, along with how good the team is overall, this may very well be one of the best Panther overall units we'll be putting out there next year. Buckle up. It's going to be a fun time.
  16. I've had plenty of free time today, and thought it would be fun / helpful to do a review of the Panthers roster as it currently stands post-draft. In particular I was wanting to be able to see at a glance for each position, who are the returning players from last year's 53, returning practice-squad guys, newly added free agents, rookies... Here's what I've come up with: Note: UDFAs not included (yet). Color coding has nothing to do with roster projections, it indicates the player's origin (last year's 53, free agent, rookie etc) Bolded players are expected to start / play significant roles. The distinction between "returning from 53" vs. "returning from PS / IR" is a bit arbitrary since some players moved back and forth from 53 to PS or IR. Generally, if a player played in at least 6 games in 2016, I included him as "returning from the 53" but I've also noted the exact number of games in which each returning Panther played to make things a bit clearer. First, Defense. OFFENSE: And Specialists: Finally, a summary by Units & Positions: I'll post some comments below. But I'll also be adding to this thread over the next day or two once UDFAs are announced. I plan to do a comparison of the May 1 2016 roster vs the May 1 2017 roster. I also hope to note the number / % of snaps lost at each position.
  17. A very good analytical piece I saw recently that touches on how exactly Curtis Samuel and Christian McCaffrey make this offense deadly. It builds upon a nice analysis on certain pieces of film from both players and how they fit on the Panthers. A style very much like mine, but far more detailed and in-depth that'll be worth the read. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2707014-nfl1000-panthers-additions-of-mccaffrey-samuel-will-give-defenses-nightmares An introductory excerpt: Comment and discuss.
  18. So, I was recently listening to a post-draft podcast from Matt Waldman and Matt Harmon in "Fantasy Hipsters," and I found a sweet gem concerning the Panthers. Matt Harmon is a very huge proponent towards the potential McCaffrey and the Panthers have, and believes Cam Newton will thrive in that. So during the podcast, he presents the question to Matt Waldman and asks for his thoughts on McCaffrey, and Samuel. It's something you definitely don't want to miss out on. I highly recommend everyone listen to the podcast. They begin talking about the Panthers fit with McCaffrey around 25:17: http://www.thebackyardbanter.com/fantasy-hipsters-podcast---episode-12-nfl-draft-rookie-fits-and-a-cast-iron-running-back-with-matt-waldman.html Here's a summary of what they said concerning McCaffrey and Samuel: Matt Waldman: "I Have McCaffrey As My Number One Player Overall On My Post Draft Board" To begin this segment, Matt Harmon begins asking a simple question to Matt Waldman: Is Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel a good fit with Carolina? Harmon mentions first that he has written an article on football guys concerning McCaffrey's fit on Carolina and why he thinks he fits. He talks about how all the naysayers ring out their cries: "Oh Cam Newton won't use him properly, "His ceiling is capped" "He's not a fit" He then asks for Matt Waldman's thoughts. Waldman doesn't miss a beat. He replies simply: Waldman chuckles in delight. Jokingly, Harmon says they will end the podcast there. Waldman laughs, then proceeds to "drops the mic." About Christian McCaffrey's Choice In Going To Stanford And How It Affected His NFL Fit Waldman begins his case by mentioning McCaffrey's prior college: Stanford. He talks and praises Stanford's scheme, and how the Panthers run something very similar. He talks about how McCaffrey ran gap plays, pop, power plays, trap plays, counter plays, and a host of other plays the Panthers run. His enthusiasm about the fit is obvious. You could just see a huge, bright smile on Waldman's face as he talks about McCaffrey's fit. The topic soon shifts to a possible reason for McCaffrey's choosing to go to Stanford. Waldman jokes that Ed McCaffrey probably pressured Christian to go to Stanford and "put up pinball numbers," knowing that Stanford's scheme will be most appealing for any NFL scout and coaches. Waldman puts emphasis on the idea that scouts want a "sure-thing" as a first rounder, and states Stanford allows talent evaluators to see a product ready to enter in any NFL offense. Waldman then ends this particular subject by saying McCaffrey was successful, and solidified himself as a top 10 pick. The Media: Typical "Cam Newton Hate" After talking about McCaffrey and Stanford, Waldman shifts to another perspective, and begins to bash the naysayers in the media about how McCaffrey would never fit with Carolina. He effectively says it's all a bunch of lazy excuses, and another baseless accusation relating to the common narrative that "Cam Newton Sucks" and "won't be able to make the adjustment." Waldman shuts down the haters by saying a few simple statements: Waldman reaffirms his belief that Cam Newton will prove everyone wrong again. Christian McCaffrey's Play, Why He's Like Westbrook, And How He's A Bonafide Top 10 Pick The topic hits a second gear and kicks off to a bit of McCaffrey analysis. Waldman begins by talking about how McCaffrey proved he was a top 10 bonafide pick, and how he could run through some arm tackles, knowledge in the use of functional power, and how much McCaffrey reminds Waldman of Brian Westbrook; the runningback who inspired Matt Waldman into scouting players his own way. Waldman talks of Westbrook's great ability of running through the tackles and how successful he was. He talks about his amazing ability to be productive, even on the tail-end of his career. He brings up the time he filled in for Frank Gore, and how Westbrook was able to get 100+ yards against a stout Arizona defense. He relates how similar McCaffrey is to Westbrook, and he's really optimistic about his future. Curtis Samuel: A Lot Like Randall Cobb, And Why "Dave" [Mike] Shula Will Be Able To Use Him Waldman begins by mentioning that Curtis Samuel's game is very reminiscent of Randall Cobb. He believes that Samuel could achieve a role similar to that, with very high upside. Then, he brings up a very interesting point: "Dave Shula" (Waldman messes up on Mike Shula's name. LOL) will be able to use Samuel. Waldman begins the run down, on how "oh Dave [Mike] Shula will never be able to use him," and "Shula sucks" with the criticism that comes with it, and dismisses it all. He brings up an interesting case in how the Panthers have been operating with receivers who have never been complete in their game for quite a long time, with Kelvin Benjamin being the closest one as of the current team. Waldman says Samuel has a ton of upside, and he could be a refined receiver really soon. Afterwards, he breaks down on how the Panthers could use him in the slot and turn him into a dangerous weapon, making Cam's life a lot easier. Doing such will allow the offense to open up a lot of diverse, multiple looks to drive the defense to distracting before the snap. Waldman believes that Samuel will get 700-900 yards his rookie year, and possibly more, with upside to be a 1000-1300+ yard, double digit touchdown guy in about 2-4 years. A whole lot of praise. Conclusion Harmon and Waldman have talked glowingly on the rookies fits. They believe they will help elevate the Panthers to a whole new level, and make Cam Newton's life easier. Confidence in fit, ability, and upside, they both know the Panthers will no longer be the lackluster offense they once were in 2016. The NFL better watch out. The Panthers are ready to pounce.
  19. The Carolina Panthers came away during the offseason with a steal. They were able to successfully retool their defense with some fine free agents in CB Captain Munnerlyn, DE Julius Peppers, and SS Mike Adams. All these players helped fill in huge holes evident in the Panthers 2016 season, and helped form a defense likely to be in the top 5 next year. With the fine and speedy development of Bradberry and Worley towards the end of the 2016 season, along with the reinvigorated defensive front, this unit will be shaping up into one of the NFL's most feared strongholds with playmakers everywhere. Even with these fine additions, a common argument lately is how old the unit has gotten. The Panthers defensive ends were of particular note concerning the age issue. Addison, Charles Johnson, and Julius Peppers are all either in the middle of their prime or past it. They all aren't as young as they used to be, but they still are productive. However, that still doesn't excuse the fact they need some young blood to come in and get ready when they're too old for the league. The Panthers entered the draft knowing they needed a new DE. They had just gotten rid of Ealy after his lackluster 2016 season, and needed some young blood to take advantage of the presence of Julius Peppers and Charles Johnson. Having a very high ceiling prospect learn behind from one of the best DEs in the NFL and Charles Johnson seemed too good of an opportunity to pass on, and Dave Gettleman knew that. When round 3 came, a certain name jumped out on the Panthers big board. Many defensive end prospects saw themselves drop out of the 2nd round, and jump into the 3rd round, much to the glee of many GMs around the league. I can just see Getttleman now just staring at Daeshon Hall's name, his measurables, and his potential. His eyes probably looked in disbelief at the fact he still remained on the board entering the mid part of three, and deliberated whether they should jump the gun. After figuring that this fine specimen was likely to be unavailable during the Panthers compensatory pick, Gettleman made his classic mid round trade up and grabbed Hall. Background Texas A&M Daeshon "Dae Dae" Hall is a very athletic and big prospect. Standing at 266 pounds with length inside (35+” arms), he ran a 4.76 40 (1.67 10), 4.38 5-10-5 shuttle, and a 7.03 3-cone. Hall has plenty of room to add muscle to his 6’5” 266 frame, and looks the part of a prototypical 4-3 DE. Considering his measurables, one would think he'd be talked about more, but playing next to Myles Garrett would put a shadow over anyone. Known simply as the "other DE next to Garrett," Hall will look to change that narrative from simply "the other guy" to "Woah that's Dae Dae Hall!" Hall originally never considered playing football. Growing up in Texas then Seattle, Hall played basketball for most of his life. Hall was originally rated one of the top basketball prospects in Washington, and could've had a decent career if we went down that path. However, his mom would intervene. Hall's mother would push and encourage Hall to try out football. Knowing how tough Hall is, she thought that mean-streak would translate well on the football field. Hall tried it out his Junior year in high school, and the rest is history. Daeshon Hall was rated a 4-star recruit coming out of Lancaster High School in Seattle, Washington. A high character guy, He earned 1st-team All-State honors and was the Class 4A Defensive Player of the Year as a Senior. In his first two seasons at Texas A&M, Hall was a rotational player at defensive end that showed flashes of his potential. It wasn’t until his junior season in 2015 that hall became a full-time starter opposite All-American defensive end Myles Garrett. His 2015 junior campaign was a breakout season for Hall. He compiled seven quarterback sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss for the Aggies, including four sacks in a season opening win against Arizona State. His performance in 2015 put him on the scouting radar. Hall had a decision to make on whether he should go Pro or stay in school. He chose the latter and decided to come back to Texas A&M for his senior year. His senior year saw Hall’s production dip a bit. He recorded only 3.5 sacks. Hall’s play in 2016 was very inconsistent but once again flashes were shown of the player he ultimately can be. Breakdown For this breakdown, I felt like taking a look at his game against Tennessee will be best suited to showcase an overall table of what Hall brings as a prospect, and what he can improve upon. This game does well to show pretty much every angle of Hall as a prospect, and the array of things he does best. You can compare the following analysis to the film itself if you feel it necessary. Daeshon Hall has a very good motor when it's turned on. He is relentless and will pursue his prey without mercy. Hall will fight his way through traffic and put forth textbook effort to impact plays. His toughness is shown well in these instances, and he will push back tackles and guards at the chest. Hall's attack will drive guards and tackles backwards, inflicting pressure on the QB. The results usually include erratic throws and misses from the passer. One thing that stands out is Hall's awareness and patience. He will diagnose a play and figure out the best course of action in certain situations. When he's faced with read-option plays, he will generally wait for a reasonable amount of time to diagnose the events, and base his decision from there. In the below play, you'll notice his quick diagnosis of going after the QB that will prove to be the best choice. Pressuring the QB, Hall forces another miss. Figuring out that affecting the QB will prove to be more effective than attempting to cover the pass-catcher, he made the right decision in his short time of diagnosis. Intelligence is a very key aspect that the Panthers adore, and Hall will not disappoint in that area. Hall shows a nice array of pass rush moves that he enjoys using. One of them is an inside move that's just flawless. When he uses this particular move, he'll usually fly by offensive linemen with ease and make an impact on the QB. If he were to use this move more often along with his other bits in his repertoire, he could very likely dominate in most of his match-ups. Going back to how relentless Hall can be, he will make plays during important downs in a game. He will use his insanely fast closing speed to chase down scrambling QBs provide immediate pressure and worry. Hall shows insane closing speed to get after the QB on a crucial 4th and down. The result of the play will be failure, and Hall gets to the QB and forces him to throw an errant pass in a very uncomfortable situation. Hall is also great at containment and guarding the edge. Unlike Delaire, Hall will put himself in a position that will force the QB to not go in his direction, and revert to another path. He will set the edge so that the play will have no choice but run into the linebackers and middle. This will prove to be quite the advantage for a team like Carolina, as their strength is in their stellar linebacker corps. One thing that stands out about Daeshon Hall is how he LOVES to use his hands to win match-ups. It's a very dominant theme in Hall's repertoire. He will use many moves with his hands to move away offensive linemen and win at the point of attack. Keeping his hands active is something Hall is good at, and a very promising sign for any future DE who wants to be successful in the league. Hall is very aware of plays. He doesn't tune out very often to what's happening around him, and watches how every play goes about. Once he sees that the ball is flung on the ground, he will chase after it without a second thought and come out with a play. Usually whenever the QB fumbles the ball, the results will either have Hall on top of the ball, or him fighting really hard for it. Using a nice one stab-bull rush on the tackle, Hall has shown the ability to win and impact the QB in these situations. Able to quickly jab and use that move, he switches gears and turns towards the QB to finish a nice play. The result is usually him getting a sack, pressuring the QB, or earning himself a half sack. And again with the hand movement, Hall just loves them. He will show off a nice outside rip move that will get him past tackles easily and pressure the QB. He may not have had the "sack stats" that many covet, but he will affect the play or QB in a positive way for the defense. Hall just has glorious hands and his own way of getting after the QB. Now, Hall has plenty of areas for improvement. He needs to add strength to his frame, as you can often see him being dominated when he shouldn't be. When these events occur, it's likely due to his tendency to play high instead of lowering himself. He has great bend and leverage, but he does play high a bit too often for comfort. One thing that Eric Washington is big on is having his defenders play low, so expect issues like this to be fixed real quick in Carolina. When playing inside, he also has a tendency to play high. Hall will need to correct this issue if he wants to see more success as a pass rusher. Using his athleticism to win inside quickly is a goal Hall will need to learn to achieve. If he is able to do that, he could be just as big of an impact as Mario Addison would be in these situations. Even so, Daeshon Hall has shown plenty of traits and flashes that makes him a very solid pick by DG in the third round. Conclusion Daeshon Hall has a variety of traits that makes him an intriguing prospect. Daeshon Hall will compete hard and battle at the point of attack. He has good instincts to locate the ball, anticipate blocking pressure, and play off blocks. Hall brings the prototype blend of size and length required to be a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme in the NFL. He uses his hands and length to keep offensive linemen at bay and to be able to set up his arsenal of pass rush moves. Hall also shows excellent bend off the edge which is a key trait for an edge rusher. Hall also plays the run very well. He is quick off the ball and uses his leverage to push blockers into the backfield. Hall has a 36 inch vertical jump, pointing towards his stellar athletic ability and lower body explosion. Hall was a very versatile player who can play edge and jumped inside a bit at Texas A&M. Hall has the capability of building more muscle and mass to become a full time DE in the NFL. However, Hall does need to add more strength soon, evidenced by being pushed around a bit. Bench pressing 225 lbs only 18 times, it's fairly evident he needs to build on his frame. His base and anchor could use improvement, and he will need to learn to play with his hand on the ground. Hall has an on and off motor on the field, whether it be exhaustion or limited skillset, but he could certainly use some conditioning. Occasionally, Hall will play too high and not lower his pads when attacking, something the Panthers should jump on him immediately. Hall will not be expected to start, but fits well on the Panthers with the ability to have him learn for a year and produce later down the road. Daeshon Hall has a future of being a stand-out 4-3 DE with production that could even rival Myles Garrett down the road. He has the potential to be a double-digit sack monster if he can put all his traits together by year 2 or 3. Learning behind Julius Peppers and Charles Johnson, along with Panthers legendary D-line coach in Eric Washington, Hall is in good hands in hopes of being able to turn into the monster the Panthers hope he'll become. Down the road, Hall may no longer be known as the "other guy," but that monstrous pass rusher everyone recognizes and adores.
  20. One thing that just recently took my attention about a minute ago was a guy on twitter posting a very intriguing comparison of Samuel in the NFL. It's very much a fair comparison, and when it's seen in action, it's hard to believe these are two different players. Watch the video. It's worth it. Give your thoughts below.
  21. A very good read. The same guy that made the article about how our WRs couldn't ever get separation and how Cam was the league's most aggressive QB now is saying this duo of Cam and McCaffrey will transform the league: Enjoy: http://subscribers.footballguys.com/apps/article.php?article=sundaymorningcomingdown3
  22. Throughout the draft, I will be writing a short little outline concerning each prospect on some key things that each prospect brings. Each of these mini-analysis sections will focus on some key things of each prospects game and their fit on the Panthers. A common theme will be how they will contribute to the evolution of our offense or bolster our defense. So, without further ado, enjoy a nice summary of what McCaffrey brings to the table: RB Christian McCaffrey Key Combine Stats: McCaffrey's 4.22-second 20-Shuttle is the 14th best performance since 2012, and his 6.57-second 3-Cone is the best during the same span. Description A very elusive and talented runner, McCaffrey is a nightmare for any defensive coordinator in the NFL. His ability to play in the slot and be an elite runner is fairly evident in his game. He showcases the patience of Le'Veon Bell and the elusiveness and angles of LeSean McCoy. He's an elite back who can play slot WR at an elite level, and a revolutionary piece in the Panthers evolution. Scheme Fit: 10/10 McCaffrey finds most of his success from the shotgun. In shotgun or pistol sets McCaffrey created a robust 5.74 yards per attempt versus 5.66 yards on carries with the quarterback under center. On average, there is usually a 0.78-yard difference in favor of runs out of the shotgun. Meaning, regardless of the college program, running out of the shotgun is usually slightly more efficient. QB Cam Newton had 9.2% of snaps from center last year, and ran shotgun for the most part. McCaffrey is a revolutionary runner with amazing vision between the tackles that allows him to thrive in zone offenses. A perfect pairing and fit. Running Ability: 9/10 A patient runner with an elusive style, McCaffrey makes mature decisions. He gets strong depth to the line of scrimmage to press creases on zone runs and he can string together stutter steps, dips, jump cuts, and jukes to reach the hole. He reads penetration well and reacts appropriately to earn what he can when the defense foils the scheme. Although not a power back, McCaffrey uses his acceleration, body lean, and strength to pull defenders with him when he gets downhill. Because he can accelerate from a stop with good explosion, McCaffrey can lean through a defensive lineman wrapping him from the side when he is heading downhill. He also keeps his feet moving and helps his teammates create a push for extra yards. Elusiveness: 10/10 McCaffrey is known for his steep angles and steps. He thrives in his elusive running ability. McCaffrey will make defenders miss with his sudden acceleration, explosiveness, and cuts. With his elusiveness, McCaffrey showcases the ability to gain a host of yards without the need to be bulky. He will gain all the yards any powerback would be able to gain in the same situation due to his elusive behavior. At 0.436 missed tackles per opportunity (rush or target), McCaffrey forced the third-most whiffed tackles in Yards Created’s history behind Tyler Ervin (0.463) and Joe Mixon (0.577). More specifically, McCaffrey is easily one of the most elusive backs in Yards Created’s very short history. 60.3% of McCaffrey’s cumulative missed tackles in his sample came via a juke, spin, or cut (elusiveness). That's some crazy stuff. Pass Protecting Ability: 8/10 At Stanford, McCaffrey got exposure to NFL-style pass plays, jargon, and protection schemes. McCaffrey has shown enough enough refined technique as a blocker that he should develop into a solid pass protector within the course of his rookie year. He gets proper depth into the line of scrimmage to meet with blitzing defenders and shoots his arms for a quick punch. Size has been argued as an issue, and that may be the case in attempting to block any big D-line player, but he has showcased perfect technique and effort to succeed with his size disadvantage. Although he has to improve his reads and reactions to Green Dog Blitzes, McCaffrey has shown enough enough refined technique as a blocker that he should develop into a solid pass protector within the course of his rookie year. Vision: 9/10 McCaffrey's vision is near elite. McCaffrey will assess the situation of how the defense is reacting to make the best judgement on course of action, and makes the best of decisions. Whenever McCaffrey sees an opportunity present itself through patience and pacing, he'll jump right to it. Unlike other backs like Kamara who would likely bounce outside when impatient with the hole development, McCaffrey will seek out any creases to gain as much yards as possible. This style of running allows him to be successful even without the power. Sometimes, McCaffery will pick a hole before he reads the situation. It occurs on short-yardage plays and makes him prone to tentative decision-making when he's off his game. When this happens, he'll appear hesitant to hit skinny creases with aggression and he runs into defenders he could have avoided. Dense boxes at the line of scrimmage can be difficult for good professional backs for the same reasons, so it's not a significant concern for McCaffrey. Receiving: 9.5/10 A big part of McCaffrey's value is the receiving game. He runs a mean Whip Route (a stop-start route across the middle that baits the defender into thinking the receiver will reverse field at the top of the stem) and he routinely finds the open zones. Although he has difficulty with high-velocity targets thrown over his head in the short range of the field, McCaffrey is a reliable option who tracks the ball well and has the athletic ability to present mismatches from the backfield, the slot and on the perimeter. Once in the open field, McCaffrey strings together moves that can turn a short play into a breakaway run. Production: 10/10 McCaffrey is one of the most prolific college rushers—and receivers—of our time. In fact, he is one of just 12 running backs since 2000 to run for at least 3,500 yards and have over 1,000 receiving yards in a career. Among players on that list, McCaffrey leads everyone in both yards per carry (6.2) and yards per reception (12.1) for their respective careers. That’s absurd. There should be no questions about McCaffrey's production. He's been productive. McCaffrey faced every defensive front imaginable. McCaffrey posted 5.69 Yards Created per attempt while facing eight or more defenders on 64% of his carries. For a barometer, D’Onta Foreman created more yards on a per attempt basis (5.82) than McCaffrey but he primarily faced light boxes. Foreman faced eight or more opponents in the box on just 17% of carries, but ended up posting slightly more Yards Created against eight or more defenders, which may go against conventional wisdom. Keep in mind: offensive personnel dictates how defenses align. When Stanford ran their unbalanced lines with three tackles, opposing defensive coaches had to match it. At the very least, there are not any warning signs in McCaffrey’s Yards Created sample that suggests he just took advantage of weak fronts. A very productive runner in any situation. Ball Security: 10/10 A rare thing to see in McCaffrey's tape is fumbling. McCaffrey's fumble rate of 1 every 243.7 touches makes him one of the best at ball security in the draft. He showcases proper technique in securing the ball and making sure losing it is not a likely occurrence. In comparison, McCaffrey's fumble rate dwarfs Cooks' troublesome rate of 1 per 63.8. That's certainly a sweet stat. Dig Deeper: Comparing All Runningbacks Of The 2017 Draft Class Statistical Analysis Of McCaffrey Full Draft Profile On McCaffrey A Look At McCaffrey As A Fit On The Panthers In GIF Form
  23. I'll be the first to say the 2017 NFL Draft is the best thing that has ever happened for this offense. In terms of how amazing it was, it could rival 2013 in terms of immediate fixes and impact. In this draft, we have successfully retooled and equipped this offense in a manner that will put the ball in the hands of our coaching staff, as there's really nothing much you could do - aside another TE - to make this offense into a bigger juggernaut than it is now. Part of what's contributing to this evolution is the addition of a very speedy slot receiver in Curtis Samuel. His ability to blow the top off of defenses in space will eradicate the necessity of any Ginn type production, and the offensive looks of having him and McCaffrey at the same time will give defensive coordinators migraines. It's a mixed offense of power and speed, and this 2017 offense could honestly bring about a whole new style of offense never seen before in Carolina history. The only issue is that we have Shula as OC. Now, there's a common argument that said that our lack of weapons and injured o-line in 2016 hampered Shula, and that 2015 was a fun offense that Shula helped contribute to. I don't buy that, but right now I'm hoping that may truly be the reason for Shula's ineptitude. With Gettleman getting the players he did, he's basically telling Shula that it's no longer on personnel and completely on the coaching if the offense falls flat again. Even so, there's still no doubt 2017 will be fun to watch on both sides of the ball. Curtis Samuel will be a huge part of this evolution. The traits he shows as a WR makes him more than worth his draft stock, and his impact will be immediate. The amount of looks and mismatches we could create just adds to the flavor with Samuel and McCaffrey on the field, and I'm just stoked to see what will happen next year. Here's a look at how this Ohio State weapon comes in to replace an old Ohio State weapon in Ginn and more: Background Curtis Samuel was the face of the OSU offense. Every OSU game thread that exists, you'll see something along the lines as "why wasn't Samuel used here" or "Samuel isn't playing enough" or "fug [insert OSU coaching staff member here]." You effectively had Samuel as 75% of the offense, and the other 25% were supporting cast. A guy whose speed and ability in space will make him quite the match-up nightmare for any team. A one-year starter at Ohio State, Samuel moved to a hybrid H-back role as a sophomore and became the centerpiece of the Ohio State offense as a junior, separating himself as the most dangerous offensive weapon on the roster. He grew up modeling his game after Percy Harvin and filled a similar role in Meyer's offense, lining up in the backfield as a receiver - only player in Ohio State history to finish with 1,000+ yards rushing and 1,000+ yards receiving. A natural ball-handler, Samuel is a balanced athlete with the explosive traits and natural acceleration to produce chunk plays in various roles. Samuel is ideally suited for a hybrid offensive position that highlights his instinctive run qualities as a rusher, but also his many route-running capabilities as a slot receiver. At the Combine, Curtis Samuel ran a 4.31 40 yard dash and had a 37” vertical. For comparison, Ginn ran a 4.28 in his combine, and averaged in the 4.3 range when tested in his pro/workout days. His speed, acceleration, and burst are all proven to be true assets to his game through his performance. Overshadowed by John Ross' prior 4.22 dash, Samuel came out with a very impressive run even amid the closed curtains. An impressive athlete, whose game backs up those traits. Breakdown I'm pretty much evaluating him as a pure slot receiver. He can play inside and has showcased fantastic ability in running to the outside and in between tackles, but his main dish comes straight from his work in the slot. From watching him, he could legitimately be in contention as one of the best slot receivers from this draft class, and that's a serious deal. What was a common theme was how much he could've grown and literally broke out with 2000 yard seasons, but so much potential was washed away because of bad QB play. Curtis Samuel is a pretty special player. He can act as a solid runner and a speedy, polished slot receiver. Samuel may not have the best catching technique as a wide receiver, but that doesn't matter. Samuel catches the ball his way, and he does not let go of it. When Samuel secures the ball, it's secured for good. He has the ability to take on collisions immediately after the catch and hold on to it for dear life. Samuel showcases the ability to take hard collisions right when he catches the ball and comes down as if it never fazed him at all. Right when a DB guns on him, he will have the ball secured and come down with it to the ground. You see WRs in the NFL who can't secure the ball as well as Samuel in situations like these, yet Samuel showcases ability that even some pros can't emulate. This is a common theme in Samuel's repertoire. He will make a lot of solid catches in contact, and that's something you just can't teach for most WRs. A common argument that people make is that Samuel "isn't a polished route runner." Sure, it's plausible to assume that, considering he only recently attained his role as a WR. It's fair to say he could be raw. However, further analysis reveals there may not be so much validity within this. Curtis Samuel showcases some real nice traits as a route runner that I believe is very underrated. Part of that is most likely due to inept quarterback play, as a lot of targets he had were inaccurate or completely off the mark. This failure proved to be a hindrance in what Curtis Samuel could've become. Nevertheless, understand Samuel is more of a route runner than people give him credit for. Samuel has many examples of showing polished footwork and jabs to create an advantage for himself. Samuel has an array of moves he utilizes to get himself separation and wide open. In the following example, Curtis Samuel shows off a nice slant: The result was the Michigan corner being left in the dust as Samuel got free in the horizontal game. The pass was sadly wide left of Samuel, but this should not discredit any of Samuel's efforts. The defender is left in the rear view mirror with Samuel likely getting an easy first down and then some had the completion been made. Curtis Samuel can beat people with his moves and route running ability. In the following example, he goes against Jourdan Lewis - a very solid prospect - and leaves him in the dust. Samuel begins with a hesitation that stops the CB right in his tracks, then he does a good job of using his hands here to keep himself clean. The QB overthrows yet again in another fine example of Samuel's good route work, but don't let that distract you. It happens all the time for the Buckeye, and I don't believe that'll happen with Cam much at all in any deep passing situation. To top off these amazing traits, you see Curtis' burst to pull away. The subtle part about this is how there’s a nice inside release from Samuel, but he makes sure he “stacks” the DB and gets back on track. He knows what he’s doing as a receiver. Even further down the field, you can see him avoid contact. This should’ve been a 40 yard TD, but yet again OSU's QB is about as JAG as it gets. He gets separation and slides past defenders like they were mere statues, and gets himself open. With a competent QB, that's a sure touchdown. When you see Curtis Samuel against press coverage, he usually dominates. He will fight for the ball and win the match-ups. He will get physical when need to, and force defenders to respect his presence. Curtis shows an efficient release. Later, you see his "stacking" ability, then pulling away for a touchdown. He beats the press coverage and comes away with gold. Samuel may not have commonly faced this type of coverage, but every time he has, he's dominated. Now Curtis Samuel in the horizontal slot game is deadly - with emphasis on the deadly. Samuel is a match-up nightmare with his speed and ability to win, and he will leave you in the dust if you are not careful. If Samuel gets his way in the slot, it's all over for any defender. You see, this is exactly the type of person Cam Newton needs. A slot receiver who can stretch the middle of the field, get separation, and burn corners to the endzone. That right there is absolutely critical for Cam Newton's success, and Samuel provides that option. His ability to stretch the field and work his way in the middle will give any defender a run for his money. Again, put him in the slot, and he delivers. He will fly by defenders like they're nothing and get himself some easy touchdowns. He thrives in space, and exploits zone coverages on a common basis. Had his QB even been average, he could've been talked about in the mid first round to early first round as a prospect. Now, there's a common misconception that Samuel drops a lot of passes. The answer to that simple question is that he doesn't whatsoever. In fact, he's arguably the most efficient 3rd down possession receiver and catcher on the Buckeye's offense. According to CFB film room, Samuel only had a drop rate of 3.2%. That's a very low and efficient amount and certainly an improvement over Ginn's catch rate. However, Samuel does need to learn to catch out of his frame. He can occasionally mistime his jump and fail to recover the ball. This is an issue that you see in spurts in Samuel's game, and a primary reason why some dub him as a guy who drops passes. The Clemson game first comes to mind as a textbook example of where Samuel can improve his game: These are the only instances he drops, but it is a teachable issue to fix. Most of the time, it isn't much of a problem, but even so this flaw exists. He will need some refining in that area, but there's still no doubt he'll be as productive as ever. Conclusion A very quick, versatile, and reliable slot receiver that Cam desperately needs. The ability to beat press, man, and zone coverages is evident in his game, and his talent as a route runner should not go unnoticed. He makes magic in space and showcases the ability to beat corners well with a variety of moves and jabs. Samuel utilizes his hands and arm a lot to gain separation and an advantage over the defender in most situations. His added value as a runner and returner makes this Ohio prospect even more intriguing. While I had not specifically addressed this area much due to the basic fact he's going to primarily be in the slot on the Panthers, he has the ability to really make defenders miss and enough flashes shown that he could honestly be a competent RB if he just chose that route only: A weapon that will truly transform the Panthers offense. I cannot tell you how good this pick is after watching some more of him. Samuel will pave the way to match-up nightmares and looks with game-breaking speed. A perfect fit and role for the Panthers.
  24. WR Kelvin Benjamin was expected to come back blazing from his ACL tear in 2015. Everyone expected the Panthers to have a juggernaut of an offense with the addition of WR Kelvin Benjamin to the mix of deadly weapons Cam would be able to utilize. Everyone expected us to be back in the game, and causing huge headaches for NFL teams everywhere. Sadly, that was not the case. Kelvin Benjamin came back, and appeared to have regressed from his amazing Rookie season. With questions concerning effort level, weak route running, and drops after drops, everyone was starting to wonder whether Kelvin Benjamin truly would be a number 1 receiver for the Panthers, and questioning his commitment to the game. His total yardage and TDs have decreased from his rookie season overall, as Kelvin Benjamin had 63 total receptions for 941 yards and 7 touchdowns this season, averaging 14.9 yards per reception. Although it looks decent on paper, you could tell Kelvin Benjamin was leaving a ton of potential on the field, and didn't appear to show much throughout the whole season. However, I truly believe the Kelvin Benjamin we saw most of the season isn't the Kelvin Benjamin we'll see at all next year. I believe there's simply more to the story than just simply regressing for whatever odd reason. After all, Kelvin Benjamin showed promise the first two games against the Broncos and 49ers, and showed up against the Falcons and Buccaneers for the last two games. Could there truly be another issue that's been bothering Kelvin Benjamin from achieving that WR1 status this team desperately needs, and is it possible Kelvin Benjamin to bring about a Pro-Bowl level season next year? Was There Anyone That Could've Predicted This Mess? Kelvin Benjamin suffered a devastating ACL injury in 2015, effectively causing him to miss 2015 in whole. It was an injury sustained in training camp, and one that struck fear into the hearts of Panther fans everywhere. No one expected the team to do well without him, or even sniff the playoffs if at that with the WR group they had. Against all odds, the Panthers made the Superbowl with a historic 15-1 run, but fell short as the Broncos exposed the Panthers offense. Amid all this, everyone expected the Panthers to comeback and do well in 2016. With Kelvin Benjamin diagnosed as to being okay for the 2016 season, everyone expected to see the monster that Kelvin Benjamin was hyped up to be in 2016. That never came to fruition. Nevertheless, there was one guy who predicted Kelvin Benjamin would regress. He predicted that Kelvin Benjamin won't be 100% until 2017, and that he would have a tough hill to climb in 2016. That guy was Joe Kenn, strength coach of the Carolina Panthers. The Root Of The Problem Joe Kenn noticed something about the extent of Kelvin Benjamin's injury. He expected that Kelvin Benjamin probably won't be 100% fine until 2017, and that it would be a process. He made such information known to WR Coach Ricky Proehl, who was skeptical and weary that this would be a possibility. Sure, this was news that should be concerning to some. If your number 1 receiver isn't expected to return to rookie form until 2017, then of course there should be steps made to monitor the situation. However, Proehl just wouldn't buy that Kelvin Benjamin wouldn't be able to overcome the setback he faced in 2015. After seeing Kelvin Benjamin's performance against the Broncos and 49ers, who wouldn't be skeptical of Joe Kenn's advice? Kelvin Benjamin amassed 13 catches for 199 yards and 3 touchdowns during that stretch, and absolutely dominated a deadly Broncos secondary in week one. I mean, tell me, would you expect a regression after seeing Kelvin Benjamin do stuff like this? Or this? Or even this? The first two games showed a Kelvin Benjamin everyone was familiar with. A big body receiver who makes some of the most insane catches and uses his body to his advantage. A huge disadvantage to any secondary or corner to try and take down. This is the Kelvin Benjamin we all loved and hoped to see all year. This wouldn't last long. Later on in the season, Kelvin Benjamin would go through a very depressing stretch of games, beginning with his no-show against the Vikings. Against the Vikings, Kelvin Benjamin amassed zero yards total. Zero. Not only that, he was only targeted once the whole game. When losing and struggling, you'd think the Panthers would look to their number 1 receiver as the answer, but that was never the case. Kelvin Benjamin came out of that game not contributing in anyway that would benefit the Panthers. It got worse as the Panthers faced the Saints for a second time, beginning a 5 game stretch of amassing a disappointing combined 10 catches for 158 yards and one touchdown. Kelvin Benjamin began growing greatly distraught - even to the point where he was benched for a stretch of plays against Oakland. This was not the type of season Panther fans expected from their returning #1 WR. Soon, Ricky Proehl finally admitted that Kelvin Benjamin had regressed in 2016, and that Joe Kenn was right: Kelvin Benjamin wasn't physically ready yet for an NFL season. Armed with this information, it clarifies the root cause of Kelvin Benjamin's disappointing season. With the swelling that began to occur in his knee, Kelvin Benjamin was soon limited in his abilities and what he could do. The fact it affected his development in training camp, along with his ability to practice further explains his lazy route running and low effort that seemed to radiate from him. With his leg still bothering him, Kelvin Benjamin just wasn't able to have the impact most would've liked to see from him. It appeared that Kelvin Benjamin may never truly become a dominant WR1 for the Panthers. However, Kelvin Benjamin set to prove that idea wrong as he came upon the last two games of the season. The Comeback Kelvin Benjamin appeared to have a spark as the last two games came into fruition. He showcased glimpses of the powerful, huge WR we all know and love as he led a campaign against the Falcons and Buccaneers. Although both games ended up as a loss, you still can't deny the effort level Kelvin Benjamin presented in both games, and how he looked like an absolute monster on the field. Against the Falcons, he would only have 4 catches in total, but with a total gain of 63 yards and 1 TD. On paper, this doesn't seem like much, but his impact on the field was huge. Kelvin Benjamin would begin making nice grabs and plays for the Panthers. He seemed to look like his old self on the field, as he made an insane catch into the endzone for a touchdown. Kelvin Benjamin would finish on a pretty strong note in that game. However, he wasn't done just yet. Against the Buccaneers, he would come out with 6 receptions for 93 yards and another TD, with 3 catches during a crucial drive that may have helped the Panthers win the game if it weren't for Olsen saving us the 8th overall pick. He would make some nice grabs and catches in that stretch, and finish it off with another one of his trademark touchdowns. This is the Kelvin Benjamin we were all hoping to see all season, yet apparently only decided to show up in the last 2 games of the season. The dominant, huge WR we all hoped would comeback and show up finally did for the last two games of the season. What triggered the release of this monster we all know and love? Simple. He got healthy. Proehl soon noticed that Kelvin Benjamin was getting healthier towards the end of the year, and it showed. Kelvin Benjamin's knee finally stopped acting up, and his performance shot up. He was no longer a wimp or a burden for the Panthers, but a solid contributor. When he got healthy, he began to show his talent and potential as a #1 receiver. When healthy, Kelvin Benjamin produces like no other. His frame and body gives him a huge advantage against any corner, and his power allows him to win contested catches for positive gains. The first two games and last two games showcased the real Kelvin Benjamin, and what he really looks like. So, beyond that, how does Kelvin Benjamin work to improve himself and ensure he reaches that goal of being our franchise WR? The Desire To Improve And Get Better Kelvin Benjamin knows he can be better, and he knows he has to work to get to that point. With that realization in mind, Kelvin Benjamin plans to work himself up to NFL shape and come prepared for the next season. Proehl mentioned that he believes Kelvin Benjamin plans to work hard throughout the offseason. He makes mention of some of Benjamin's plans to get better. Weight is something a lot of Panthers have bashed Kelvin Benjamin about. Looking sluggish on the field, many assumed it was due to a lack of conditioning and too much weight that hindered Kelvin Benjamin. Proehl also mentions he plans to personally work with Kelvin Benjamin and other receivers to get better this offseason. Not only that, but Kelvin Benjamin plans to help turn himself more into a leader-role rather than a nuisance. He admitted that he wasn't ready for that role coming out of Training Camp. He mentioned that he plans to turn himself around, and become a leader-like presence in the locker room. Proehl emphasizes Kelvin Benjamin's desire: The Restart With Kelvin Benjamin likely to finally be back fully healthy in 2017 - as predicted by Joe Kenn - Kelvin Benjamin will finally be able to fine-tune his technique during training camp, and not be limited in any role or way. With his plans to improve himself physically and mentally this offseason, there's no doubt in my mind that Kelvin Benjamin will be back in form for the 2017 season. With glimpses of greatness shown in the last two games, there's already precedent to assume that Kelvin Benjamin will likely have a comeback season and assume the role as our #1 wide receiver. This journey will not be easy. There's still a lot of hard work that Kelvin Benjamin must do during the offseason to achieve that goal. But the potential and desire is there, and Kelvin Benjamin knows 2016 was not what he truly is as a receiver. With everyone rooting for his true return, Kelvin Benjamin will work hard and improve himself. In an effort to restart his career, and become the wide receiver Gettleman and the Panthers envisioned as they selected him in the first round of the 2014 draft.
  25. Well, are you ready for draft day already? If the average Huddler were to search for threads with the title "McCaffrey" in it, they'd come up with a wealth of threads debating and slicing up whether or not he's a possible fit, starting with @Kevin Greene's below: To add on to the endless pile, I thought I'd enlighten you all with visual gifs on how special McCaffrey is. Although this time it's surprisingly not me as the author and GIF finder, it's still a fantastic read to showcase a guy whose running is vastly underrated. http://pantherswire.usatoday.com/2017/04/07/is-christian-mccaffrey-worth-panthers-no-8-overall-pick/ With the organization’s clear intrigue for the Stanford product, a major question looms. Is McCaffrey actually worth that eighth overall selection? A snap judgement would likely result in a resounding “no.” Why use the franchise’s most valuable draft asset of the past six years on a running back, especially one that isn’t widely considered to be a “bell cow” in a class that’s chock-full of them? The thing about McCaffrey is he’s not just a running back. He’s a polished running back, a dynamic wide receiver, a dangerous return man and perhaps a perfect fix to Carolina’s offensive woes. First, let’s take a look at that polish out of the backfield, an asset Carolina should certainly look to add alongside Jonathan Stewart and quarterback Cam Newton. On a 2nd-and-2 run against Oregon this past season, McCaffrey displayed patience, instincts and explosiveness as a runner. He allowed his blocks to develop, diagnoses the hole and attacks the opening en route to a 61-yard touchdown. Here’s the dash again from an elevated angle. Despite preconceived notions or even his lackluster 10 reps on the bench press at the combine, McCaffrey also showed he’s a fine fit for the Panthers’ power running scheme. Take the following snap out of the shotgun against Washington earlier on in the year, for instance. Much like the deception offensive coordinator Mike Shula often utilizes, McCaffrey took advantage on the read option look from his quarterback. As his blockers swept left, he used that patience to locate some daylight and powered through would-be tacklers on his impressive leg strength, an attribute that would later be backed up by his 37.5-inch vertical jump in Indianapolis. In addition to his familiarity with Carolina’s preferred rushing concepts, something new wide receivers coach and former Stanford running backs coach Lance Taylor can attest to, McCaffrey’s skill as a pass catcher makes him immensely more valuable on offense. Here he ran a slant out of the backfield on Kansas State. McCaffrey went to his sharp footwork to, in part, show off just how much he can master his route running. He locked into his defender Charmeachealle Moore (No. 52), fainted right and quickly shifted back left to the middle of the field to create separation and an open target for his quarterback. Lining up McCaffrey from the slot will prove to be a matchup nightmare for the vast majority of NFL linebackers, as shown by this and the upcoming 67-yard reception at the expense of the rival USC Trojans in 2015. McCaffrey’s ability to eat up yards after the catch would serve as a long-awaited addition to the Panthers’ offense, a unit that ranked 31st last season in target rate, pass success rate and yards per attempt at the running back spot. His 2015 campaign, according to Pro Football Focus, saw him rack up a yards per route run average of 3.20, the highest at the position and 71 missed tackles, the fourth-most for any rusher in the nation. That dual-threat mix put McCaffrey right into the fold alongside LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, the top-two consensus running back prospects in terms of production against top-30 defenses over the past two seasons. While numbers aren’t everything in the scouting process, they can definitely justify one’s value as compared to similar level players when facing high-level competition. Games Attempts Catches Y/A Y/C Total Y/G Total TD McCaffrey 6 117 28 5.6 12.0 166.0 5 Fournette 6 118 7 4.4 9.3 98.3 3 Cook 12 250 26 6.3 11.3 155.8 16 Oh and let’s also not forget McCaffrey’s prowess as a returner, a position where his elusiveness continues to take centerstage and speak for itself. If Carolina ultimately bestows its No. 8 pick upon McCaffrey, it’s probably hoping for the entire package, which he very well could be. His effectiveness, overall refinement and promise in the backfield, as a receiver and on special teams help him go into Philadelphia in three weeks as the draft’s most complete back, even more so than Fournette and Cook. McCaffrey, simply put, is an offensive weapon. He can thrive as a complement and change of pace to Stewart, a wideout that can actually gain separation for Newton and a returner to fill the shoes of the freshly departed Ted Ginn Jr. Are there better choices in the first round? Yes. General manager Dave Gettleman would likely love to see any of defensive end Solomon Thomas, tight end O.J. Howard or safeties Jamal Adams and Malik Hooker on the board when the eighth selection rolls around. Can any of them, however, step in as a quick, versatile and much needed solution to what mainly doomed the Panthers in 2016?