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Found 28 results

  1. Read All Prior *Very Dated; January* Mocks Here: 2017 Panthers Mock Draft (Rounds 1-3) - Panthers Wait Until Second Round For A RB 2017 Panthers Mock Draft 2.0 (Rounds 1-3) - Panthers Steal A Player In The Third Round It's nearly here! Just a good night's sleep, and the first rumblings of actual football content of interest finally begins with the NFL Draft beginning tomorrow night. Draft obsessed fans all around the world will tune in, hoping their team takes a snag at their dream prospects that they believe will give their team a shot at making it to Superbowl 52. The Carolina Panthers have had a very disappointing season, ending 6-10 after a magical 15-1 run. After Gano's missed kick to begin our dumpster fire of a season, it was just completely sickening to see what they've become, knowing that the Panthers were far better than their record. Nevertheless, the NFL Draft presents its opportunity to help retool any team with some fantastic prospects, and the Panthers are sure to take advantage. As such, I believe it only to be fair to bring about a whole new updated mock draft of my own prior to draft night. Since the last time I even made one was January (3 rounds only as well), I figured I should come along and present a whole 7 round mock for your enjoyment and deliberation. I will be accounting for Igo's word and other insiders concerning the first few picks to ensure a slim bit of accuracy in here, then go from there with other picks I think the Panthers may be interested in/would fill in holes, along with prior experience in my own participation on other site's mock drafts. In this mock draft format, the first three picks will feature highlights, while the rest will just feature my thoughts and some other analysis I saw. This is to prevent a very cluttery post, while still giving out some quality content. So, without further ado, here's the Panthers 2017 mock draft: Round 1 Pick 8 - RB Leonard Fournette First of all, I doubt we're trading up for Fournette. I just don't see it. From all the rumors that seem to be swirling around, I just don't believe Gettleman is considering trading up high for him. In fact, it's very logical that Fournette WILL drop to us. Here my thought process on why that will be the case. So, the only three teams that could possibly ake Fournette ahead of us are the 49ers, Bears, and Jaguars. The only team that would trade ahead of us for him seems to be the Bengals with their obsession of him. The 49ers have been blowing so much smoke, but I read something from an insider a while back that mentioned that their GM may be secretly hoping for Jamal Adams, while others say it's deliberation between Thomas and Tribusky. Fournette just appears to be a complete smokescreen. The Bears supposed interest is definitely a smokescreen, unless they're just that stupid. No logic in that when they have Jordan Howard. In the other spectrum, the Jaguars seem to be interested in anyone BUT Fournette. @Verge has made it very clear that his NFL scout source says that it's between OJ Howard, Cam Robinson, QB Deshaun Watson, and a D-line prospect. The Chicago Tribune reports back up this statement. A RB will be likely taken in the later rounds, as their GM has "gone out of his way to defend them," so it's very unlikely Fournette goes to them ahead of us. The Bengals have been reported again and again to be in a race against us to get Fournette. I find it amusing they want to ruin their franchise so eagerly with that much of a pointless pick, but anything goes. With the Jets very uninterested in just trading down 2 or 3 spots, the Bengals will likely find themselves in a pickle of being unable to leapfrog us. We should be ready and in the clear to take Fournette without worry. So, with my explanation on why Fournette will definitely drop, I'll finish off with a nice sneak peak at the type of player Fournette is. A punishing runner, Fournette's greatest asset is his attitude as a finisher. He plays with the self-awareness that he's big, strong, and fast, Unlike Ron Dayne, Michael Bush, Brandon Jacobs, and a host of runners that linebacker-turned-color analyst Chris Spielman has been exhorting for years to "know thyself", Fournette understands that he is a weapon of blunt force trauma. He will lower his pads and accelerate through the contact of defensive backs, linebackers, and some defensive ends. He wants to be the first to hit in a collision, and he understands that if he hits first, he has a greater chance to control the interaction in his favor. One of the qualities of Fournette's game that complements his size, speed, and physical, attacking style is his footwork. What Fournette does as well as any elite back is stride variation. His ability to change the length of his stride at top speed is as good as any big back that I have watched. It's like watching a 185-pound wide receiver running a stem at top speed, but in a frame that's 230-240 pounds. Fournette's stride variations allows him to subtly alter the angles of pursuit so he can run by them, dip under them, and - most often - plow through them. His running is a bit of an optical illusion in this respect. Yes, he's a powerful man, but he does a good job of eliminating direct angles of pursuit and many of his spectacular highlights are the product of Fournette creating optimal collision angles so he wins the leverage battle with his pads, his ferocious stiff-arm, and his knees. Fournette's receiving skills provide additional value. A sure-handed receiver, he tracks the ball well over his shoulder and with his back to the defense. He also executes the back-shoulder routes and maintains possession through physical contact. LSU didn't have the passing game to exploit this skill with the frequency than an NFL team can. With Fournette's speed and physicality, he'll be a tough draw against linebackers up the seam or wheeling out to the flat after a play-action fake. He's also a versatile presence on passing downs. Fournette loves to inflict punishment on blitzers. He's a ferocious chipper and he loves to square-up and lower his shoulder into oncoming defenders in one-on-one assignments. How He Fits The Panthers Fournette is an excellent running back prospect. If his legs stay healthy, he has what it takes to earn 1500-1800 total yards and double-digit touchdowns for at least a period of 3-5 years when it hits his prime with All-Pro & Pro Bowl seasons. As long as he enters in an offense that will highlight his strengths, he'll be worth his draft capital and more. The Panthers have primarily ran zone last year, but talks of evolution has made me consider that Fournette could help us achieve that. I've been saying for a few weeks that I'm completely fine if we pick Fournette or McCaffrey, as both will force our offense to evolve in one way or another. Fournette will bring back a very traditional run game of pounding the ball, and allowing far more play-action roll-outs that we rarely see from Cam. This will keep the pressure off of Cam and then help pressure Cam in a positive way to become more of a pocket passer. He's a good compliment to Stewart to help spell him out for some downs as a one-two punch back. On zone-read plays, we can employ Stewart and have Fournette as our power option on first downs and so. We could convert our offense to help everyone evolve and get better, and Fournette could be a step in that direction. If Stewart ever gets hurt again, we have a pro-bowl caliber backup ready to hit the train. A pick you won't hear any complaints about. Past Analysis On Fournette Matt Waldman's Write-Up On Fournette Stat Analysis of Fournette: 2015-2016 Draft Analysis And Breakdown By Yours Truly Every Fournette Run From The Shotgun Analyzing This Year's RB Class In Detail Round 2 Pick 39 - S Obi Melifonwu A defensive pick we're certainly interested in, and someone I believe could be a very solid 2nd rounder in hopes to train him up as our future at SS. I predicted he'd be a borderline first round prospect back in the day, and I was proven right. Obi Melifonwu has some amazing combine numbers and even broke some records. He's a true athletic specimen with some decent tape to boot. The above video breaks down nearly all the amazing qualities that Melifonwu a truly great prospect. At 6-3, 220 lbs, he's got a good frame as a strong safety. Coming from UConn, there's virtually no highlights for this guy, who yet leads his team with interceptions (4) and tackles (118). So, without further ado, here's some nice information on Obi: 1. He's One Heck Of A Tackler Obi Melifonwu breaks on the ball and forces an incompletion, coming from around mid-field. He shows manly physicality with his huge hit, intelligence with diagnosing the play, and speed to make a play. He brings all these quality traits together to deliver and prevent a big play. He's definitely got the physical traits to be successful. 2. His Coverage Is Fantastic In the slot, Obi stays tight with his slot receiver, showcasing textbook coverage and breaking up the ball. He stuck like glue to his guy, and made a good play on the ball. Not many can combine such a frame with this coverage ability, but Obi does it effortlessly. He's certainly got a lot of potential to wreck havoc in the NFL. 3. He's A Speeding Train In this replay, Obi comes out of nowhere, speeding in between tackles, to come smash down the runningback to no-gain. He shows amazing speed and great tackling form to smack down this runningback from making an impact. He shows yet again his great football IQ in diagnosing the play and figuring out a way to smash down the runningback. He's certainly a physical beast. How He Fits The Panthers He provides near instantaneous depth at a position in dire need of it. Heck, he's even great as corner depth. He'll be a project year one, but his upside is as high as any of the great safeties in this class. His athleticism is off the charts, and his game compares a lot to a certain Seahawk safety we all know of. He provides security, depth, and a future to a position looking to become one of the best in the coming years. Obi has the size to matchup with the big receivers of the NFC South. I feel like he'd be a quality pick around here. Round 2 Pick 64 - DE Derek Rivers A very intriguing prospect who watching more and more of brings me away thinking he may be one of the top DEs from this class. This small school wonder just screams like a possible Panther DE monster ready to decimate the league. His pass rushing is top-notch, and his potential is sky high. Rivers gave himself quite the reputation during the Combine and pre-draft processing. He tested into the 80th percentile among NFL edge defenders, per 3 Sigma Athlete, and. He is a smooth athlete who is extremely pliable in his lower half, and a guy with a whole lot of potential. 1. His Speed Is Blinding In this replay, you will notice Derek Rivers timing his jump exactly and turn into one of the quickest gears I've ever seen. He flashes blinding, ripping speed and slips past by the OT like he were nothing. His amazing speed helps him get an easy and swift sack. You really don't see this much from some prospects, but he really does have some great speed. He shows his ability to track down the QB and smack him down hard. He showcases blinding speed and potential in this replay, and gives me confidence he would help bolster our pass rush from our DEs. However, the following replays help showcase his potential as a technician in the pass rush game. 2. Solid Pass Rush Moves Although he does not come with a sack, the impact is evident. Derek Rivers comes in with a sweet snatch move to come in and pressure the QB. The QB is forced to account for the potential sack and move up in the pocket. If he were on our team, Kuechly or Davis would be ready to come in and smack him down hard. Attacking through the pads, Derek Rivers wins the matchup. He's a very quality technician, with ability to utilize pass rush moves like hand combative moves (like a club over) and attacking through the pads (like sling-shot). He could easily have solid impact in the NFL. 3. Improvising At Its Finest In the following replay, Derek Rivers attempts a bull rush and counters with a snatch when the RT tries to anchor. A very beautiful array of steps that forces the QB to throw early and attempt to get away. The QB lucks out, but a very beautiful array of pass rush moves all in one. Derek Rivers has the ability to change gears and moves when circumstances avert his original aim. A quality the Panthers would love to have in its future DE. How Does He Fit The Panthers? The Panthers could use some youth and future prospects for the DE position, and Rivers provides that confidence. A quality pass rusher, Rivers can come in day one and become part of a rotation of stout DEs and learn behind them. Employing him on certain pass rushing situations will help give him the game-time experience to become a force in the future. He can learn behind Johnson and Peppers and help refine his tools to get ready for year 2 when he'll have more of a front role. One of the most well-rounded edge defenders in this class, Rivers has a bright NFL future ahead of him. He has the potential to put up double-digit sacks in the future. Derek Rivers is a name no one should sleep on. The Panthers have shown through visits and workouts that do have interest in the kid. He could easily be in play as early as our first second round pick, but he'll likely be available if we stay put and wait until here. Round 3 Compensatory Pick 98 - WR ArDarius Stewart A very intriguing prospect. A very high quality WR with potential to do some big damage in the NFL. A guy who'd be able to fit in the slot real quick and do some huge damage, his elusiveness and play-making ability makes him a very good prospect in the NFL. An underrated name with big time potential. In the slot, he's a sure handed receiver who knows what to do after the catch. He plays like he's 6'3" 225lbs, and he has a mean attitude on the field. A monster who'd help elevate any WR corps, he'd come in and improve the Panthers immediately. His speed and ability to play slot makes him a perfect deep-zone replacement and threat. Stewart is a complete receiver. In addition to catching the ball, he is also a very good run blocker and can run the ball out of the backfield effectively. Stewart plays bigger than his size and has the jets to take it to the house. His big play ability makes him one of the more interesting receivers in the draft, he consistently made plays for Alabama and would have made more if not for Alabama’s reserved passing attack and freshman QB. A supremely talented prospect underutilized at Bama, but unlike his counterpart in OJ Howard, his tape shows a guy who has the traits to take it to the next level. It’s not just his athleticism, but his vision and understanding of defensive leverage that make him elite. He can be given a reverse and, seeing the defense has him outflanked where the play is designed to go, cut up field. He can be thrown a screen and read in a flash which lane gives him the highest chance of success. He has the vision of and tenaciousness of a running back. Stewart plays the game with an edge, he likes to hit players in the mouth on crack blocks and drive receivers back, opening big lanes. He doesn’t just look to hold his blocks he is looking to finish them every time. On plays down the field, Stewart consistently comes back to the play and throws a block to spring the ball carrier for more yards. His effort is undeniable when you watch the tape, and he has the skill set to match his effort. He can come in and be a great addition to any NFL team’s run game. A key aspect to any receiver’s game is body control and the ability to high point a football. The ability to catch the ball isn’t as simple as catches and drops, but how you catch it and can you make difficult plays. While Stewart wasn’t asked to make a ton of these plays, he showed good body control and the ability to high point a football. Stewart is only 5’11”, but he plays bigger than his size. His speed allows him to get behind the defense, but on under throws he can come back to get the ball. He has a large catch radius, showing the ability to catch the ball away from his body, including behind him, without it throwing him too far off stride. Stewart’s route running is also a thing of beauty. He understands zone concepts and shows the ability to settle between zones. He also has the lateral quickness to break defenders down. He needs to develop his route tree further, but the routes he ran at Alabama were very successful. His acceleration and ability to get out of breaks will allow him to continue to develop in this area, and he will make for a very difficult cover in the NFL. He shows the ability both to separate from defenders on the deep ball and go over the middle and make catches. How He Fits With The Panthers Stewart comes in and fills in a need as a slot WR and deep threat. Helps build up competition immediately with his amazing qualities as a WR, and a game-changer on our offense for the better. Unlike his counterpart in OJ Howard, Stewart's film shows a WR who will excel in the NFL and not just based on pure potential. Stewart is a rare talent at wide receiver. Explosive play makers with great body control who are good route runners and punishing run blockers don’t typically go overlooked, yet somehow Stewart is. Trust me, he'll be a playmaker. (Note: Following this round, the rest will just be quick write-ups with analytical videos up front when applicable) Round 4 Pick 110 - TE Jeremy Sprinkle An underrated TE Prospect, Sprinkle will help create a solid 2nd TE for the team. He won't be the flashiest, but he does everything right and well. In a sense, he's the TE version of RB Jamaal Williams, another underrated yet complete prospect entering in this draft. Sprinkle has the solid blocking traits and receiving traits to become a force. He’s big, strong, and quick enough for the NFL. He catches the ball. Sometimes what catches the eye isn’t the physical traits or refined technique, but intelligent decision-making wrapped in an unrefined technical package. His intelligence is what showcases his true talent. He can diagnose the best ways to help an offense win and become a force. Here's PFF's breakdown: https://www.profootballfocus.com/draft-pff-scouting-report-jeremy-sprinkle-te-arkansas/ Stat to know: Ranked 13th in the TE draft class with an 81.0 receiving grade in 2016. What he does best: Consistent hands — only dropped five catchable passes combined over the last three seasons. Added nearly 50 pounds to 210-pound high school frame, aiding his finishing 2016 with a pass-blocking grade greater than 80.6 in 11 of 12 games. Sharp cutting and decisive out of his routes. Quick enough to gain separation from linebackers off the line of scrimmage. Can use his big frame to win at the catch point. Athletic enough to win when lined up in the slot — 12th-highest yards generated per route run from the slot the last three years compared to draft tight ends. Thrives on quick cutting routes — at least 20 percent of all targets on quick outs to the flat and 25 percent on crossing routes each of the last three seasons. Athleticism displayed to attack the defenses second-level after collecting four of five catchable targets of 20 yards or more (averaging 26 yards per reception) since 2014. Biggest concern: While his grading improved in 2016 as his pass protection snaps doubled in back-to-back seasons, over the last three years Sprinkle has averaged the 95th-ranked per-snap pass-blocking grade among draft tight ends. 13th-lowest run-blocking grade per snap, last three years, versus draft tight ends. Questionable lateral strength and balance in preventing quick outside moves. Unable to increase receiving totals in 2016 despite nearly doubling his passing snaps. Delayed offensive advancement could be the result of his backfield snaps dropping from 183 in 2015 to 2 after accumulating 25 percent of his total targets out of the backfield during 2015. Player comparison: Julius Thomas, Miami Dolphins Sprinkle, like Thomas, hasn’t displayed the lateral strength to maintain ground when run-blocking. Both provide adequate technique in pass protection and can be a reasonably dangerous red-zone weapon with above-average ability at quarterback. Consider that with QB Brandon Allen leading the offense, throws to Sprinkle generated a 128.8 passer rating in 2014, 122.0 in 2015, but witnessed a drop-off to 99.5 with Austin Allen under center in 2016 — Sprinkle’s “down” year. Bottom line: Sprinkle has added the necessary bulk to play inline at the next level but, to see the field with any regularity, he will need work on his leverage to improve his blocking. He has the hands to be a threat in the passing game and significant special team experience (11 solo tackles in 2014-15 combined) that will allow him the roster time to improve his blocking mechanics. How He Fits the Panthers He helps bring back the Panthers a solid receiving threat in a #2 TE with quality blocking to boot. He's an intelligent man who will need some time to become the force he could be, and a quality technician. He'll slide in immediately in a #2 TE role, with upside to become Olsen's heir when the time comes. Helps bring back our 2011 offense 2 TE sets immediately, and an underrated prospect who will do damage. Round 5 Pick 152 - RB Tarik Cohen "The Human Joystick" If there was ever a true position for a potential elite scatback, Cohen fits the bill. His speed and elusiveness/agility is off the charts. The tape speaks for itself the potential Cohen can bring for any team, and I think the Panthers would like him. A guy who plays extremely well in space, he's a must grab in rounds 5-6 if the Panthers want to add another evolutionary element to the offense. The "Human Joystick" isn't an ironic nickname for Tarik Cohen. Give him open space and he's tough to catch. Tarik Cohen's "Human Joystick" moniker comes from his elite quickness and agility to create something out of nothing. Tarik Cohen has Williams' long speed and even better agility. He will be competing hard for a team's scatback role, and will likely thrive. Small-school back who checks in at just 5-6 and 179 pounds, but was extremely productive at the collegiate level. Finished his career with 5,619 rushing yards. Dynamic player who can stop on a dime and accelerate. Ran 4.42 in the 40 at the combine. Extremely elusive with highlight-reel plays on the regular. Home-run ability with four scores of 80-plus in 2016. Capable receiver out of the backfield with 37 catches for 339 yards last year. His size is a concern, but Cohen has some of Darren Sproles’ electric ability. Watch the above video if you want to get a full grasp of a potentially solid prospect. How He Fits The Panthers He helps bring competition as a scatback on the Panthers. He's got the quickness, elusiveness, and agility to thrive in that role and give Fozzy Whittaker a run for his money. An instant returner, he'll bring competition to a role the Panthers need more help in. A quality player to help cap off a dangerous looking offense. Round 6 Pick 192 - S Nate Gerry A solid player that has been very productive. While not the most athletic, he makes up for it with his playmaking ability. Provides solid depth at the safety position with good upside in the NFL to make an impact. He's an excellent run defender and player where it counts, and just makes the plays you want from any safety. Here's PFF's take: https://www.profootballfocus.com/draft-pff-scouting-report-nathan-gerry-s-nebraska/ Name: Nathan Gerry School: Nebraska Position fit: SS Stats to know: Third-best run stop percentage of all draft-eligible safeties. What he does best: Excellent at working downhill in run defense out of a split safety look. Improved tackler from his previous two years at Nebraska; went from 25 combined missed tackles in 2014 and 2015 to eight in 2016. Has ability to read the QB allows him to attack coming forward and cut off routes to make big plays. Four interceptions and six pass breakups in 2016. Has the size, physicality and aggressive playing style to take on tight ends in man coverage. Over the past three seasons opposing QBs completed just 51.5 percent of throws into his coverage and had a rating of 54.5 against him. Biggest concern: Struggles to backpedal and run smoothly when playing at the back end of the defense; will stop his feet and consistently give up space in man coverage. Lacks recovery speed once beaten off the break. Not athletically adept enough to fill any centerfield role even if it is limited to a few times a game. Struggles to get enough depth filling an underneath coverage role seems most comfortable going forward. Speed, agility limitations would also make him a liability against the slot. Player comparison: Kurt Coleman, Carolina Panthers Coleman does not meet the standard level of athleticism of a traditional safety, but his aggressiveness and ball skills have extended his career much longer than was anticipated when he came out of Ohio State in 2010 and was selected in the seventh round. Bottom line: Gerry’s best and only fit seems to be in a split safety role where he is hardly ever asked to play single-high free safety and is limited in his deep coverages. He can play half the field and attack the flats and LOS as well as any safety in this class, but he is limited athletically and does not look like he can matchup with any wide receiver or tight ends with plus speed. Gerry can be an effective early-down player who is best hidden in underneath zone coverage or cover-2 looks in nickel and dime situations. Round 7 Pick 233 - WR Robert Davis; LB Thomas Davis' Cousin How ironic. The pick we got for a project WR in Norwood is being used for another project WR in Davis. A very athletic WR, his combine sure turned some heads. With some insane numbers, he could very well become something in the NFL. While he definitely is an early project, being on the same team with TD will surely motivate him to become well. His athleticism and connection to Thomas Davis will be the difference between him being a lower 7th round pick TD sure likes him: And so does Slaytics, as he's the #1 most athletic WR from this class: A guy with connections and upside that'll have the Panthers take a look. No doubt TD would love this pick. Conclusion In this mock, the following players were selected: RD1: RB Leonard Fournette RD2(1): SS Obi Melifonwu RD2(2): DE Derek Rivers RD3(Comp): WR ArDarius Stewart RD4: TE Jeremy Sprinkle RD5: RB Tarik Cohen RD6: SS Nate Gerry RD7: WR Robert Davis A solid mock, and you won't hear many complaints from me if this occurred.. Sadly, I'm not very acquainted with cornerbacks in this class, but one quality CB could very likely be taken with our round four and we can push everyone else down on this list with Nate Gerry as the odd man out. Otherwise, I wouldn't change very much with this mock. What say you? How do you like this mock?
  2. I spent some time today reviewing and playing with the list of Panthers draft prospect visits / meetings / workouts to date. I was trying to get a feel for what positions we might be targeting where in the draft. That is, looking for patterns / groupings of players, and just trying to get a feel for what the visits might show about our relative priorities on offense & defense. I've only done a preliminary review / analysis. I hope to do more, but for now, in the next few comments here I'll be posting some of what I've been playing with, and a few of my conclusions based on the patterns I've found. All of my data for the Panthers 2017 draft prospect contacts / visits / workouts is taken from Gene Ferrell's Black & Blue Maniac blog (I cross checked it with Walter Football as well) and is current through April 13. https://panthergf.wordpress.com/2017/02/28/2017-draft-prospect-visit-workout-meeting-list/
  3. A name that has set a lot of Panther draft analysts into a happy frenzy was WR Chris Godwin. With an apparent private workout for the Panthers, draftniks are sitting happy at the idea that this prospect is being heavily considered by the Panthers - and for good reason too. Chris Godwin is quietly being toted around as a possible monster player being under-hyped. With his amazing route-running ability, physicality, and dominant ability to win contested catches, some are touting him as the eventual best WR from this draft class. Considering all this quiet hype, I decided to help skim through some draft reports and ideas to help everyone gain a bigger picture at just what makes this prospect so great. My "Mini" Scouting Game Watched: Penn State vs USC 2017 Rose Bowl He's 6'1, 209 lbs with a 4.42 40, 4.00 20S, 7.01 3C, and a 36.00 vertical. If you don't know much about Chris Godwin, he was the guy who absolutely dominated in the Rose Bowl game against USC. His 9 receptions for 182 yards monster of a game is something that'll clearly stick in the minds of draftniks everywhere. Here's some analysis by me from that portion below: A physical receiver that's hard to bring down. In this portion, Godwin completes what appears to be an in-route in coverage. What I love seeing is how he always kept his back against the defender. He turns around right after the catch with the back right against the defender in a semi-box out style, then retains his solid ground. One technique to make sure no defender attempts to strip the ball from you is having your back against the defender. Two possibilities result from such: The defender will still attempt to go for the ball and commit a sure pass interferance The defender is unable to do anything except wrap and tackle, thus creating a complete play This technique helps make sure one retains full possession of the ball, and prevents corners from making plays on the ball. Keeping the back against the defender is a technique all WRs must have. Take what WR Isaiah Ford (an underrated WR who I believe could also blow up the league) does in this example where he could've used this technique to create a completion after a stunning double move: I mean, I could talk all day about that beautiful double move. He sold the outside route to the penny in how he turned his hips, eyes, and everything to fool the corner to trip up and fall. However, his mistake begins when his incompetent QB underthrows. He is forced to slow down, and miss-times when he was supposed to do so. Instead of slowing down a bit earlier to gain leverage on the defender, he continues down and allows the defender to catch up without Ford having any leverage on the corner. The result was the corner beating him out to make a solid play. What Ford should've done was ready his back against the defender right when he makes that catch. He should've ensured he had leverage when the corner came running down by having his back against him, then go for the catch and speed right into his box-out stance you see from Godwin above to make a solid finish to an awesome route. Godwin shows he can make the physical and smart catches against corners. He's not one to mess around with or take lightly. Here's another play from his bowl game: Yes, if you watched the game, this was considered a TD due to him having control by the time his first leg went down. Anyways watch his physicality and technique on display. He generates a nice move to fool the defender into thinking he's going outside, thus forcing the corner to trip up. By the time the corner stands and regains footing, he's behind the corner and utilizes a nice stiff arm to create further separation for a touchdown. By the time he was in the endzone, it was all over for the corner. Godwin shows his physicality and decent speed helps create wins in situations such as this. He had 4.42 speed after all, and that's anything but slow in today's NFL. Here's another play: In this play, Godwin makes a move then goes for the in route to the left for a nice solid pickup. The fact he knew where to plant his route and the timing was stellar. With the QB underthrowing, he was able to correct that like an "auto-correct" feature by extending his arm out like it was all planned. This guy makes highlight reel catches like this like it's normal. He's a solid hands guy who's pretty sure to make the catch, and is a true clutch receiver. Trusted for most third down conversions as the go-to receiver, Godwin comes in to make the big play. A clutch receiver is certainly something the Panthers need and would covet. Makes sense they're looking at Godwin. My Conclusion From what I see, I see a solid wide-receiver who could do damage. He's a physical, dominant, and stellar receiver that gives me a vibe of Anquan Boldin. He's fast when need be, physical to get the ball, and wins his one-on-one matchups to get the ball. He does have average quickness and does take a little bit of time to get to full speed, but he shows he has the route mechanics, physicality, and mentality to do great. I could even see him become a Dez Bryant type of player as his ceiling. I don't know whether his quickness, or the routes he ran played a part in it, but it did appear he had some issues attempting to get pure separation by speed. He seemed to use his physical nature or moves to get the separation needed, but I don't think that'd be an issue. He did have a few times where he could've shown a bit more burst so he could reach the ball, and instances he could've looked back and tracked the ball better towards the end of the 4th quarter, but he's been dominant for the most part. Sure, he's not as flashy in some area, but he's still great in plenty. If he can get everything together, you could expect him to be an underrated gem from this draft class. I really liked what I saw, and I think he'd be a solid addition to our team. Matt Harmon's Scout - The Next Allen Robinson/Malcolm Mitchell Prospect Breakout?: https://www.thefantasyfootballers.com/articles/reception-perception-chris-godwin-underrated-wide-receiver-2017-nfl-draft/?udk=mharmon25 Measuring in at 6-foot-1 and just over 200 pounds, Chris Godwin has the build of a top outside receiver. That was precisely the role he played at Penn State. Every single snap in Godwin’s six-game Reception Perception sample saw him lined up out wide and on the line of scrimmage. He took 56 percent of his snaps at left wide receiver and another 44 percent at outside right. Godwin never ventured into the slot or lined up as a flanker off the line. Over the last three seasons of studying wide receiver prospects, I’ve begun to pay close attention to the development of players who took the vast majority of their snaps on one side of the field. Receivers like Kevin White and Dorial Green-Beckham operated in this fashion as a collegiate players and neither has managed to make use of their clear athletic gifts at the NFL level. While transferring the game from one side of the field to the other may seem like simple task to the reader, one must consider the massive amount of muscle memory that the constant reps of football puts into place for a player. Reversing all aspects of route-running, releasing from the line and working the sideline is a greater challenge when you have little to no experience doing so at the college level. These receivers who come into the NFL playing 80 to 99 percent of their snaps on one side of the field are at a disadvantage as a pro offense rarely stations their receiver on one side of the field on more than 60 percent of their snaps. Perhaps this is one of the aspects of the spread an NFL scout had in mind when he told NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks that the proliferation of that offense was killing wide receiver development. Godwin doesn’t fall into that category since he moved between left and right wide receiver. Yet, it’s still notable that he didn’t take any snaps in the slot or as a flanker and strictly operated as an X-receiver. One has to wonder if that will factor in while adjusting to the NFL level. After a 69-catch, 1,101-yard season as a sophomore, Godwin fell back to 59 catches and 982 yards as a sophomore despite his touchdown total jumping to 11. Any lack of production in the offense is no fault to the player in this case. Godwin saw a target on 25.9 percent of his routes run over the course of his Reception Perception sample. The two-year prospect average is 33.2 percent and only Tennessee’s Josh Malone checked in with a lower target per route rate among those sampled this year. When Godwin did see targets come his way he was mostly efficient in converting them. He caught almost 70 percent of the passes sent to him and dropped just 2.3 percent of them. Contested catch conversion rate Often times what helps wide receivers off the top tier distinguish themselves is the presence of a trump card in their game. In Mike Williams’ evaluation, it was concluded that his dominance at the catch point gave him a trump card, a skilled exemplified by his 81.3 contested catch conversion rate. Williams’ score is the fourth-highest recorded over the last two years and Chris Godwin has him beat. Godwin’s insane 85.7 percent contested catch conversion rate is the highest among prospects charted the last two years. He narrowly edged out well-known high-pointer Josh Doctson from 2016, who owned an 85 percent conversion rate. Not only does Godwin play at an elite level in traffic, he also shows an advanced understanding of timing and hand use when leaving his feet. He’s not as tall as a player like Williams or Doctson, but his ability in the air gives him just as much of a catch radius. His overall play strength makes him a force in close quarters with a defender. Of course, the true appeal to Godwin goes beyond his trump card trait. His ability as a route-runner and separator must also get the recognition it deserves. Success rate vs. coverage While Chris Godwin can come down with catches despite a defender being in his hip pocket in contested situations, he’s also a strong route runner who can leave them behind. Godwin posted a 73.5 percent success rate vs. coverage in the games sampled for Reception Perception. That was the fourth-highest score in the 2017 NFL Draft class and falls at the 76th percentile among prospects the last two years. Godwin also showed well when facing zone defenses. His 85.5 success rate vs. zone coverage checked in as the fourth-highest among prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft. His 68.8 percent success rate vs. double coverage was above the 80th percentile. There were a number of reps where Godwin showed off a pristine set of release moves from the line of scrimmage. He used deception, strength and quick feet to elude defenders’ jams off the line. However, there were also moments where those moves faded and he slipped into bad habits. The result was a 68.1 percent success rate vs. press coverage, which was above the average along the 53rd percentile, but was not quite as elite as his other marks. Godwin, along with John Ross, Carlos Henderson and Ryan Switzer, was one of only four receivers this year to post an above average success rate vs. coverage score against all type of defenses measured. Godwin is the biggest member of that foursome, which just serves to underscore how impressive his route technique is at this stage of his development. Route data While I don’t like it to be used as a negative or criticism of a draft prospect’s abilities, one of the trickier parts about projecting college wide receivers to the NFL is how their route trees skew to a small handful of inside-breaking routes. Carlos Henderson, for example, ran an out-breaking route on just 4.5 percent of his patterns sampled for Reception Perception. The NFL will ask receivers to run a wider variety of routes. Chris Godwin doesn’t come with this asterisk in his scouting portfolio. Not only did he show an ability to run the full route tree, he was quite adept at executing out-breaking routes. Red is below the two-year prospect average, green is above and yellow is within the average. While the typical prospect will see their route percentage chart skew more towards the slant, curl, post and nine route, those were the four patterns that Godwin ran at a below average rate. It’s unusual, but Godwin ran the corner (4.6 percent) and out (4.6 percent) routes at rates right in line with the two-year prospect average. Godwin’s preferred routes were the dig (12.7 percent), comeback (13.3 percent) and flat (9.8 percent) as his usage rate was above the prospect average on those three routes. The dig and comeback are two patterns that take the most detail and technical prowess to run with precision Godwin is much farther along as a route-runner than most of his peers in this class. While his route percentage chart skewed more toward outside routes than the typical prospect, his route success rate scores show a player who wins in all areas of the field. The only routes in which Chris Godwin did not post an above average success rate vs. coverage score was the nine and “other.” Godwin’s straight-line speed may not be among the best in the class, and his 48 percent success rate vs. coverage was the fourth-lowest among prospects charted this year. His success rate on the “other” route of 70 percent was within the average. Otherwise, Godwin thrived on all routes. Despite not running them as much as other prospects over the last two seasons, Godwin’s 86.4 percent success rate vs. coverage on slants and 84.6 percent on posts show off his quickness at the stem of routes. He’s also adept at using the subtle head fakes to take a defender outside in coverage before he breaks to the interior. Once in the open field on those routes, Godwin can be dangerous. Only 6.9 percent of his routes classified as “in space” attempts where he could break a tackle in the open field, but he was dropped on first contract on just 33.3 percent of those attempts. As mentioned, the dig and comeback route were two patterns Godwin ran at a higher rate than the average prospect. Both difficult patterns to execute cleanly, his use there says a thing or two about his route-running. The fact that he posted success rates of 90.9 and 87 percent of them says even more. While Godwin’s trump card is his ability to win the ball in the air, don’t undersell his ability to separate from defenders and get open. At just 21 years old, Chris Godwin already shows plenty of polish and seasoning for a young player who may have even more room to grow. He’s a player that comes with a complete skill set as a separator in addition to his work in the contested catch game with the best conversion rate in Reception Perception college history. With the NFL Scouting Combine upon us, expect the buzz on Godwin to grow as he enters the national spotlight. While players like Cooper Kupp and Zay Jones appear to still be riding the hype of strong Senior Bowl weeks, it will soon be Godwin’s turn to displace them as one of the true sleepers of this draft class. Much like now Super Bowl-winner Malcolm Mitchell from the 2016 class, Reception Perception identifies Chris Godwin as a player who will likely go outside of the first round but is destined to outperform his draft status. However, as long as Godwin continues to nail the pre-draft process, he could certainly end up working himself into the early Day 2 conversation. The results that lie in his Reception Perception metrics tell us that he is a player well worth that sort of investment. Matt Waldman's Scout: What I did go over above was mainly his good traits rather than his need for improvement traits, but Matt Waldman has done a scout video on Chris Godwin that I myself haven't watched yet due to me wanting a clean slate of watching Godwin for myself. So, I'll let you guys watch to come up with your own conclusion: https://mattwaldmanrsp.com/2017/01/23/rsp-film-room-no-92-wr-chris-godwin-extended-look/ Some players are sneaky-good. The Penn State junior who declared for the draft is one of them. Chris Godwin didn’t wow me with his Rose Bowl performance, but what I saw in this game helped me I understand why he chose to leave Penn State this year. Godwin does some things that are difficult to teach and the skills that he must refine aren’t far from the polish he’ll need to contribute on Sundays. This 46-minute look at Godwin’s 9-catch, 187-yard day includes targets requiring difficult adjustments to the ball, boundary awareness, framing separation, tracking deep passes, and a variety of route skills. Because lacks any spectacular surface-level athletic traits, Godwin isn’t an exciting prospect for draftniks. But he’s sneaky good. What will ultimately separate him from his peers if work ethic and intelligence. If he has these two qualities, he’ll be the type of player that fans of the team that drafted him will someday appreciate as an underrated pick.
  4. As many people have noted in recent weeks, the Panthers aggressive free agency means we've got a sizeable roster headed into the draft. The Panthers roster currently stands at 80 players. The roster limit for training camp is 90 players. We have 8 picks in the draft, plus the chance to bring in UDFAs and more free agents. Where is DG going to make space for all the new players?! While it is WAY WAY WAY too early to make any real roster predictions, I did find it helpful to review the roster today, trying to further assess at what positions the Panthers could really use help from the draft and to look at what players might already be on the bubble, at the risk of being released if we draft new talent. Here's an overview of the roster broken down by position, and with an attempt to subdivide the players for each position into 3 priorities. probable starters/key rotation guys depth / backups; camp fodder / practice squad types It surprised me quite a bit to discover I could easily come up with a pretty darn solid 53 man roster of category 1 & 2 players, with very few holes, (especially on Defense, Offense has some questions & holes still.) Here's an overview of the roster, looking at the numbers of players at each position. One would think that with 41 offensive players and 35 defensive players currently on the roster that we might have more holes on defense. But I don't think that's the case at all. We've got TONs of WRs & OTs (18 total at these 2 positions) on the roster, but many many are likely guys we're just churning through to see if we can find a diamond in the rough. Even with 18 players on the roster at these positions, these are still two of our areas of greatest need. Here's a look at all the players on offense and defense, grouped by position, with my rough classification as to what categories they fit in. Players in blue are more or less presumed starters / key role players. Yellow are the backups / depth to fill out the 53 man roster. Red presumably will get cut. Offense: On the Oline, obviously we can't have 3 starting tackles, and it's not a position where one uses a rotation. If Oher is healthy enough to start, Daryl Williams becomes a backup, perhaps competing with a newly drafted tackle. If we think Williams and/or any newly drafted tackle are suitable backup at guard, a player like Chris Scott or Amini Silatolu could be let go. I predict Larsen will win the Center backup role over Gradkowski. In any case, there is definitely room to draft a tackle. With Matt Kalil on the roster, and IF Oher is healthy, we could perhaps get by without drafting any tackle, but I know we'd all like to see Gettleman find someone to draft and develop for the future and to strengthen our depth at this position. QB is obviously not a need, but if a player (Dobbs) we like falls to us at one of our later picks, who knows, we could draft one as a developmental project, especially with Cam not being able to throw until training camp. If we were to end up drafting Christian McCaffrey, that could put Joe Webb's spot on the roster in danger as he is our "utility offense guy" (RB backup, WR backup, returner.) Obviously McCaffrey could not fill the QB3 slot on the roster though, and I think we'll want 3 QBs on the roster this season given that Cam's coming off shoulder surgery. RB/FB: There is room for another starter / main rotation player. I've given Stew & Fozzy the highest priorities, but really only Stew is safe. CAP seems to be very much on the bubble given that he's been given hardly any playing time in 2 years. Fozzy would probably be safe (he was one of the first players we re-signed this off season. Coaches like him.) if we were to draft Fournette, but would be doubtful to keep if we draft McCaffrey. As for Fullback: I assume we keep a dedicated FB on the roster, assuming Darrel Young or Devon Johnson show the necessary talent. Obviously we might look for a different FB, but I'd guess that would be through Free Agency rather than the draft. TE: Only Olsen is a sure thing. We went through how many TEs on the roster last season? And still we ended up with Greg & Ed Dickson. We all would like to see an upgrade from Dickson. There is definitely a spot on the roster for a TE... We could "live with" Olsen / Dickson & Simonson again. But why SHOULD we when this is a really really talented TE class. I will be extremely disappointed if we don't draft a TE in the 1st 3 or 4 rounds. To ignore this need would be very shortsighted. WR is far and away the biggest question mark on our roster. Really only KB and Funchess can assume to be pretty sure of a roster spot at this point. (And even Funchess could be bumped down or off the roster if someone clearly beats him this summer, though I doubt we give up on him just yet.) We obviously hope Shepard & Charles Johnson#2 will add something to the WR stable, but none of us have seen them take a snap in Panther Blue, so they're not certain yet. Byrd excites a lot of the fans but he's having surgery this offseason, could be tough for him to gain a spot. WR competition will be WIDE OPEN yet again, and there is space to draft/add 1 or 2 WRs to compete & upgrade this position. So, in summary, looking at the roster, I identify these priorities for the draft on offense: WR: (need) OT: (need) RB: (less a NEED than an opportunity with a really deep & talented draft class and wanting to strengthen & evolve on offense and limit Cam's runs) TE: (need / opportunity. Dickson's not adding much. This is a very good TE class.) Guard: no need. Center: no need if we like Larsen or think Gradkowski is solid enough QB: if a promising talent is there are one of our later picks.... why not? DEFENSE & Special Teams: On Defense: DANG, Dave Gettleman has done a fantastic job this off-season filling holes. Apart from the question of the AGE of a lot of our players on defense (a valid concern, which I'll address in a minute), I'd be pretty happy with our potential 53 man roster (the blue & yellow guys) even if we didn't add ANY new player on defense! Seriously, look at that defensive roster and realize that for ANY new draft pick on defense to make the 53 man roster, one of the 26 players in blue or yellow is going to have to go. WOW. TOUGH TOUGH choices ahead in building the roster on defense. The guys most on the bubble would seem to be Ryan Delaire Kyle Love Zach Sanchez / Teddy Williams (or really any of the CBs behind Bradberry / Worley / Captain) Dean Marlowe Basically, the only issue on defense is AGE. We need talented youth to develop behind Peppers & CJ, TD and Mike Adams. On D: I think we should aim for 2 players in the draft: A young talented pass rusher is the biggest need, then a strong safety. CB it would be nice to have more depth / competition to push Worley. At LB: we've got decent depth already, but it wouldn't hurt to "replace" AJ Klein. Shaq is already being well-groomed to be able to take over for TD when the horrible day of his retirement comes, but with AJ gone, it's worth starting to develop another new LB. But apart from a DE to play in rotation to learn behind Pep & CJ and to give us some young legs among the DEs, we're not looking at needing to draft a starter or key rotation player on Defense. We're looking a DEPTH and developmental players. This is a huge reason why I keep saying I want us to go offense heavy in the early rounds of this draft. It's on offense we have more holes & question marks. Our current Defensive roster could go out and start tomorrow. We have the luxury of being able to strengthen the depth behind the presumed starters, but we've got a very solid defense already. All told, I want to see us come away with about 6 players out of our 8 picks in the draft: 2 or 3 high picks going to Offensive Weapons: (RB / TE / WR) (rounds 1 - 3) 2 or 3 mid - high picks (rounds 2 - 4) for DE & S or OT 1 mid to late pick BPA at any position where we could strengthen our depth: (CB, LB, QB)
  5. 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?
  6. To spice things up before draft day, I thought it'd be interesting to throw the name of a super late round guy into discussion as a possible Panther. Sure, it may or may not happen, but if we're looking to evolve, this guy may be one way to do it late. His name is Samajie Grant. He's a WR/RB hyrbid. And he's pretty small. He's the same size as Smitty - 5 foot 9 inches - yet 8lbs lighter than the Panther all-time great at 177lbs. He saw time as an emergency starter in occasional instances, but nothing much other than so. Nevertheless, he flashed a great amount of ability for his size. Taking a look at one of my old threads concerning runnningbacks, it was interesting to note he scored extremely well in certain places. His straight line speed at the combine may be a turn-off, but he definitely plays real fast going game speed. To really evaluate speed, discontinue the notion 40 times determine overall speed when considering the following: With these ideas in check, it's no wonder why Samajie Grant is a part of the star caliber player in the realm of speed and acceleration: Speed Acceleration A component of speed, acceleration is how fast a player can get to full speed from a stop, a change of direction, or from a slower speed. Acceleration is arguably one of the greatest assets a runner has. How much of it he has and how he uses it in the context of a play can tip the scales in favor of a smaller runner lacking top-end speed (Emmett Smith) versus a bigger runner that can pull away in the open field, but has difficulty geting past the line of scrimmage (Bishop Sankey). If Samajie Grant makes a team, it will likely happen as a UDFA or 7th rounder. A receiver for the bulk of his career, Grant had scintillating moments as an emergency starter at Arizona. Grant's speed bolster's the appeal of his versatility. Another interesting mention is how good he is in the elusive category. In fact, there was a lot of praise for him there. Elusiveness An elusive runner avoids a contact. If a runner has sufficient agility to change direction and drive the opposing defender off balance or avoid a direct hit, he possesses an adequate amount of elusiveness to his running style. There are several techniques ball carriers use to avoid hits. Some runners have all the techniques in their arsenal and can keep defenders off balance with an endless variety of moves, while others may only have a few effective moves in certain situations. Very interesting to see. Speed, acceleration, and elusiveness. Sounds like a very versatile player for any offense. His ability to play WR and RB just proves itself to be interesting in it of itself. A guy worth watching out for indeed. To cap this off, here's a nice write-up on the kid and his potential as a huge sleeper in this draft: https://mattwaldmanrsp.com/2017/01/18/rsp-film-room-rbwr-samajie-grant/ Good football players come in all shapes and sizes. The three things that most have in common are toughness, effort, and creativity. Arizona slot receiver and part-time running back Samajie Grant has these three qualities and pound-for-pound, he’s one of the most entertaining players I’ve watched in this class of skill prospects. Grant had 45 receptions as a slot receiver last year, but my first exposure to Grant was this November matchup with Colorado where he was called upon to be the starting running back. Although CU drubbed Arizona, Grant accounted for 14 of its first 17 points and delivered an invaluable assist for the final touchdown. What fascinates me most about Grant in relation to analysis and projection of prospects is the delicate line between talent and role. When analysts and scouts grade players, they have to choose a position category. When they do, that assigned spot—be it RB or WR— shapes the perspective that evaluators have about a player’s skills. It’s why players like Danny Woodhead and Tyreek Hill fall through the cracks on draft day. Teams with imagination and flexible thinking capitalize on the conventional thinking that influences organizations to shy away. The conventional organizational perspective on these players fits one or all of these thoughts: They don’t know how to create a productive role for this type of player. They fear that the prospect is a true gadget player—a term for a limited talent disguised by his exciting college career as an athlete. They stuck in “either/or” thinking with assigning a position to the prospect. At this point, I haven’t seen enough of Grant to truly gauge his value as a receiver so let’s presume for now that he’s a much better runner. If so, he’s not a conventional back. Even if he somehow reports to his Pro Day at 5’9″ 195 and can keep that weight on him, we’re talking that he’s at best comparable to Clinton Portis as a rookie struggling to maintain that weight, which the Broncos felt—as talented as he was— was too light for a feature back. If Grant is as small as he looks, an evaluator has to consider the current (or majority) reality of the league, the possibilities beyond that reality, and a realistic happy medium between the two. The current reality indicates that Grant earning top-12 status as a ballcarrier in this class is ludicrous. If he’s below 190 pounds, there are only a handful of small players during the past 30 years of football that have earned a pivotal role on an NFL offense. But when these exceptions occur, it’s often due to a team having a fluid role that blurs the lines between traditional position expectations and these players often perform as top prospects in hindsight. It means that if Grant finds a team that can maximize the skills you’ll see below, his value will transcend any conservative grading formula that turns its nose up at a smaller player that doesn’t fit the square hole. So, what's his fit? Now, he certainly wouldn't be as intimidating or as insane as McCaffrey in this team, but he certainly can provide a McCaffrey-lite type of role. His ability to work the slot is one thing to note and develop, and as a runner he's real fast and elusive in space. He could challenge Whittaker as our scatback in this offense, and be a solid chess piece in an intricate player having a role in evolving how we play. A small guy with big potential. A name to watch for in the late ends of the draft.
  7. So over in one of the "Should we trade up for Fournette" threads, I mentioned that some of the draft simulators (Fanspeak) don't show Fournette being picked often before #8. (I imagine their algorithms discount the value of the RB position.) Today I did 20 mock drafts at Fanspeak with 13 different big boards, and shockingly Fournette was there at #8 100% of the time. That seemed crazy.... so it pushed me to do something I was wanting to anyway. I decided to do a comparative analysis of a couple dozen (3 dozen to be exact) mock drafts by various analysts. I tried to include most reputable analysts and sites: NFL.com (several analysts); CBS (several analysts); Kiper, McShay, Bleacher Report, PFF.... I found many of the links at Walter Football's Mock Database. http://walterfootball.com/draftdata.php Others I searched for in google or at the various sites... Note: If I'm missing any major analysts or more recent mocks by the analysts listed, send me the links and I'll try and do an update of this analysis next weekend. Here's a list of all 36 mock drafts I tabulated, for picks 1 - 8. Bright yellow shading indicates a trade scenario. Pale yellow is merely to highlight some less common names at various picks.... The names under the column for each pick show the most common players mocked for the given PICK. Note, for calculating those figures I ignored trades. So, for instance, In the two scenarios where the Panthers are projected to trade up to #2 to pick Thomas, even though Thomas is being picked to the Panthers, he is calculated as going off the board at #2. So Thomas goes off the board at #2 21 of 36 times (58% of the scenarios). Mocks done by humans are obviously different than those done by computer algorithms at draft simulator sites. Fournette was off the board at #8 61% of the time in these 36 mock drafts, compared to 0% in the 20 fanspeak mock drafts I did earlier.... More analysis & comments to follow below.
  8. It's the offseason, so I thought I'd revisit the ever-so old debate of Newton VS Luck. The common theme would be who would be the better QB coming into the league, with many arguing on Luck or Newton's side based on many different variables. At this time, we all know what Cam Newton is capable of, and we all know he's been an MVP before when he's had a half-decent o-line. Andrew Luck has had quite the opposite of his last name as he was forced to succumb to a horrid o-line attempting to back him, but he still has had success in the past. Both have been successful in their respective careers, and both are still topics of debates as to "who's the better QB?" To look at that argument, I present an old, yet intriguing article written by - you guessed it - Matt Waldman, whom I'm sure you have had enough of from me lately. Nevertheless, I just thoroughly enjoy his content, and its really helped me analyze and look at football in a whole new light. So, to revisit the age-old argument, here's an article from 2011 on why Cam Newton is the better rookie than Andrew Luck: https://mattwaldmanrsp.com/2011/11/03/logic-newton-or-chance-luck/ By rookie QB standards Cam Newton has been incredible. In fact, he's been terrific by any standard. If you were in charge of player-personnel decisions for the NFL team that had the opportunity to choose between Cam Newton or Andrew Luck, which quarterback would you take? I think this is probably one of the most compelling questions I’ve seen all season. There are so many layers of analysis to explore with this type of question. While Newton was considered a fine quarterback prospect, only a few really nailed him as a player capable of making a Peyton Manning/Carson Palmer impact early in his career. And even fewer did as good of a job debunking the “running quarterback” myth with Newton than Chris Kouffman and Simon Clancy. Their analysis of Cam Newton was dead-on this winter. I highly recommend you make this your lunchtime read. I think the work they did was most impressive and something to learn from. But then there’s Luck, who is considered the best prospect in the last 20 years. Unlike Newton, Luck is a three-year starter in a pro-style offense that uses West Coast concepts. Luck also has freedom to change plays at the line of scrimmage with the authority of veteran pro quarterbacks while Newton played in what is conceptually recognized as a highly simplified offense by comparison at Auburn. Furthermore, Luck is an athletic quarterback who is more physically mobile along the lines of Ben Roethlisberger or Tarvaris Jackson than Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. So what do you do, take arguably the “best quarterback prospect in the past 20 years” or take arguably “the best performing rookie quarterback in the past 20 years?” Since few people thought Newton would display this kind of pocket presence, skill at reading the field, and wise but aggressive decision-making as a rookie, isn’t it just as possible that Luck’s adjustment could be just as surprisingly disappointing as Newton’s was surprisingly successful? There’s also a racial element at play here when it comes to fans and analysts and it’s a complex issue. There are those whose ignorance is cloaked with innocent intentions: comparing black athletes to other black athletes exclusively without taking a deeper look at the individual’s game or thinking deeply enough about the nature of the comparison and the incorrect assumptions that come from it. At the same time there are those with their hearts in the right place, but immediately suspect bias is involved when a comparison between black athletes is made when deeper examination supports such an analysis and the fact that both athletes are of the same race is merely incidental. I’ve had a few readers and Twitter follows question my comparison of Cam Newton to Steve McNair and Daunte Culpepper (at his best) because they thought it biased of me to compare him to other black quarterbacks an not include white signal callers. I thought their hearts were in the right place, but they didn’t know I’ve also compared Newton to Ben Roethlisberger in terms of his ability to hang in the pocket and his throwing prowess. They only saw the possibility that Newton was stereotyped as a running quarterback, which is often code for “he can’t throw.” And some of these readers also thought of McNair as a running quarterback when closer examination and deeper thought would reveal that McNair developed into perhaps one of the toughest pocket passers in the game. He just happened to be a hell of a runner, too. That said, I agree with these readers that there is a tendency for the public (media and fans) to take a lazy approach and rely upon comparisons that give a black quarterback short shrift whereas with a white quarterback like Andrew Luck, analysis and fans will say “and he can run, too!” after complimenting his skill as a pocket passer. Still, I thought it was fair to compare Newton’s role in his college offense to that of Vince Young. And I still think it was a fair question to wonder if Newton’s lack of experience in a more complex offense would require a longer transition in comparison to Luck, who is playing in an offense that is NFL-tested. And if so, would Newton display the work ethic to make the transition that Young lacked? However this type of statement above treads a fine line because it could come across as if one is questioning Newton’s ability to work by comparing him specifically to Vince Young, when that question was actually asked within the context of all young NFL quarterbacks – black and white – that either didn’t relentlessly work at their craft to continuously improve or their work process wasn’t yielding the desired results: Young, Ryan Leaf, Jeff George, Derek Anderson, and Daunte Culpepper are all notable examples. I believe Newton’s one huge season, simplified offense, and great athleticism earned him a lot heavier criticism and skepticism than what we will see levied at Andrew Luck. I think the heavier criticisms on these grounds are fair and have nothing to do with race. Certainly Blaine Gabbert was questioned about his lack of experience with a pro style offense. While his playbook didn’t appear as simple as Newton’s, the fact that the TV segment focused on Newton not being able to recite a play call to Jon Gruden magnified the difference between Auburn’s offense and other college programs. However, it also made Newton appear like he wasn’t a student of the game. I like to say there is truth and there is television and they don’t always mix. Newton also received a lot more criticism about an incident with a laptop at Florida than Peyton Manning received for allegedly harassing a female member of the UT football staff (and subsequently settling out of court). This is where there is generally a disparity in the level of criticism and scrutiny between black and white quarterbacks. Personally, I don’t think there was anything wrong with the level of scrutiny aimed at Newton for his off-field actions. However, I do think it was wrong that Manning got a free pass or Matt Leinart’s partying didn’t become an issue until he failed numerous times to capture and maintain a starting NFL gig when there was a plenty of evidence that Leinart lacked the work ethic most teams sought from a franchise quarterback. I also wonder if Andrew Luck performs remotely as well as Cam Newton will his rookie year will be classified as a “shocking” surprise or merely a “pleasant” surprise? I’m not sure there is one good answer to that question. Race remains a hot button topic in the U.S. and while we have made strides as a nation we still have a long way to go. It’s a complex topic that requires more sensitive, but unflinching discussion in my opinion. Luck is the best college quarterback prospect I have ever seen, but Cam Newton's rookie performance as a quarterback is the best I have ever seen. Which do you choose if you had the opportunity? But back to the hypothetical question, would it be Newton or Luck if I were an NFL GM and know what we know at this moment? I’d have to take Newton. He’s logically the best choice because he’s demonstrated that he’s more than capable of making the transition to the NFL and Luck hasn’t had that chance yet. There’s a possibility that Luck could have a better career than Newton once he enters the league but no matter how great of a prospect he’s considered, he hasn’t had the opportunity to prove what Newton already has. And what Newton has proven is that he’s a poised, tough, and accurate pocket passer capable of taking what defenses throw at him and making good decisions on a consistent basis. This doesn’t mean that Newton won’t struggle as defenses formulate something that frustrates him, but if I saw Newton do at Auburn what I’m seeing him consistently do at Carolina, I would have thought he was one of the best skill position prospects I’ve ever seen. At the same time, I’ve seen Luck perform consistently in ways I’ve never seen before at the college level. And that’s the problem, Luck is the best college quarterback prospect I have seen in terms of his performance of criteria that is most translatable to NFL success. However, Newton didn’t have the opportunity to perform to as many of these criteria points because of his offense and only one year on a team at the highest level of the college game. So technically, Luck is the best college quarterback I have ever evaluated. But Newton is the best rookie quarterback I have ever seen. If this is the case then Newton clearly gets the nod because Luck’s evaluation is based on the theory he can hang in the NFL, Newton has undeniable proof. _____ So, revisiting that age-old argument, it comes back to mind how fantastic Cam Newton's rookie season really was. His pocket presence, comfort in our o-line, and weapons he could utilized contributed to how successful he truly was. Our 2 TE sets and a half decent o-line helped bring him to break countless rookie records and draw his mark in the NFL as a rookie. Cam Newton is a true talent. Never forget that. Here's to 2017 bringing about what 2011 brought us. We have the ability to shape our offense in that mold, and it will all depend on who we draft in less than two weeks. Gettleman, the cards are on you to bring us back to the glory days.
  9. The Carolina Panthers defense looks like a stronghold. With the addition of DE Julius Peppers, SS Mike Adams, and CB Captain Munnerlyn, our defense is trending towards a look seen in our 2013 defense. Aided by a proven elite nickelback in Munnerlyn, along with two-time 2015 and 2016 probowler SS Mike Adams, our linebackers should be able to return to disrupting the middle and LoS - as was their forte in 2015 and 2013 - and our starting secondary may very well be top 10 next year. Our DE rotation has been upgraded with Peppers added to the mix, and with Ealy finally packing his bags off to NE, as there was a notable lack of pass rush with him having more snaps. With Addison (8 sacks after the week 7 bye week when getting significant playing time; 9.5 sacks total while missing two games as well to injury), Charles Johnson (has slowed down due to injury, but still solid run defender and puts pressure on QB), Horton (amazing run defender), and Peppers (pass-rushing specialist with 7 sacks as an OLB for GB), our DE rotation is looking solid. Short, Lotulelei, Butler, and Love all make up one of the most stout DT rotations in the league as well. Our LB corps is still the best in the league, with starter quality depth to boot. This defense appears ready to make a monstrous 2017 run. Easily top 3 on paper. Even so, there are some things that could be patched up amid such a stronghold. The argument that our defense is 'old' is wrong, yet right at the same time. Our DEs have gotten older, no denying that. Although I'd argue everywhere else - aside starting SS - is relatively young and not even hitting their prime, it's fairly apparent the Panthers need to inject some youth in that area. With Peppers and CJ capable of providing once-in-a-lifetime veteran leadership for any potential monster rookie coming in, it's too sweet of a deal to pass on the opportunity to take a young, promising DE in the reins of our monstrous front. One particular DE I hope the Panthers consider grabbing is none other than DE Tanoh Kpassagnon from Villanova. DE Tanoh Kpassagnon is a brute of a man. Standing at a proud 6'7", 290 LBs of muscle, he's got the size to dominate. His length is also incredible, and his hands; they're incredible powerful. With 10.88″ hands and 34.88″ arms in length, this guy seems to have the physical body to dominate in the NFL. Although his agility drills are of partial concern, he still possesses a strong motor and will to become something in the NFL. He flashes fantastic potential, and looks like he just needs solid coaching to become a monster. For his 2016 season, he's had 11 sacks, 16 tackles for loss, and 20 tackles total. He's had a total of 23 career starts, and is just beginning to hit the potential he has. A solid DE for Villanova, he has shown to be a force on their line, and a standout player. He's got a lot to like about him. From his body frame, to his flashes of potential, this guy will be a monster coming once he gets into that sweet gear. Although one could argue he's a tad raw, he's definitely worth a later second round pick. He shows a solid plant foot when engaging in formation, and does well redirecting with his feet. He has tremendously powerful hands in his pursuit, but does need to add to his repertoire of moves to fully make use of them. Shows fantastic pop to reset the line of scrimmage and make linemen respect his power. Does have more of a build-up rather than twitch to his lateral speed, but showcases solid mobility in his hips to aggressively take sharp angles to hit the quarterback. Solid run defender with his powerful hands and slashing style. Showcases amazing flexibility despite his size, although he needs to drop his pad level to compensate for his big frame. Great at stort-area stunts to plant and drive right onto blockers effectively. Showcases monstrous rips, length to tackle well, and a devastating inside swim/over the arm move. Potential is amazingly high, and he's just scraping the surface. When you look at him play, you just see a beast among boys. You see a guy who makes matchup nightmares. You see a monster who intimidates with his power and strength. You see a guy who could potential unravel as a monster in this league with the proper coaching, and motivation. He showcases athleticism guys his size should never be able to show, and flexibility that shouldn't even exist. One thing about Kpassagnon that I adore is his leadership ability. Having solid character traits, Kpassagnon has shown the willingness to lead a team and yearn to improve himself everyday. He's been a team captain before, and has had support from his teammates. A well respected guy is just what the Panthers covet in their draft picks, as character is something the Panthers prize as an organization. After the Hardy fiasco, Jerry Richardson certainly wants to make sure anyone we take in is a solid guy all around. He has a knack of getting after the quarterback and tackling him hard. He uses his frame and body to the max to instill justice and force upon his victims. He turns his prey into mere squashed potatoes as he knocks them down. Oh, and you better watch out for him when he's a run defender. He does not play. He gets after the runningback as well and forces them to succumb to his power. He grabs them and sets them down like they were mere pillows. He's a solid run defender, and has a knack of pushing through blockers to get after his prize. He takes no nonsense, and shows no mercy towards any offensive player. Where Kpassagnon does get his knocks on is his burst and raw assets. He does need to improve in his explosiveness, and prove his combine agility does not determine his in-game performance. He needs to increase his pass-rush repertoire and show more attention to his bull rush. Refinement in technique and style are really his marking points in determining him between a first round talent and a lower second round - third round level guy, as he is pretty raw. Nevertheless, he's flashed ability and has amazing mobility and flexibility to become a dominant double-digit sack monster in a 4-3 scheme. With the Panthers already having a solid starting rotation, Kpassagnon will likely spend his rookie season learning behind the pros. With Julius Peppers and Charles Johnson teaching him the ways of a Panther DE, Kpassagnon should certainly see improvement in his technique and ability as he's being motivating to work better in the Panther way. Defensive Line Coach Eric Washington will likely ingrain him the meaning of keeppounding, and help spring him up to be an amazing defender. With the Panthers having a solid history of drafting impact DEs that terrorize the league, there's no doubt they'd be able to add Kpassagnon to the list of monsters they've had in the past. Seeing that the Panthers have already dined and visited with Tanoh, it's apparent the Panthers are showing a lot of interest. Gettleman has commented tremendously on his monstrous senior bowl showing, and his amazing potential and build. There's a lot of interest in Tanoh from the Panther front office, and I believe it's 100% warranted. No doubt this guy could become a legit threat and powerhouse in the NFL with solid coaching and motivation. And there's no doubting Gettleman loves his hogmollies. The Panthers drafting him will add to a monstrous looking future with Addison and Kpassagnon being our threats on the edge for the near future, and help add to a stout rotation in arguable one of the scariest front sevens in the league. A force to be reckoned with, and something that'll make a lot of NFC South QBs consider retirement.
  10. First off, congratulations to @WOW!! for figuring out the comparison. Looks like another draftnik that I love agrees. In this particular NFL Fantasy Live, they go over Matt Waldman's Rookie Scouting Portfolio; resource filled with solid analysis of most draftable players in this year's draft for WRs, TEs, QBs, and RBs. (For those of you who are obsessed with anything draft-related, it's a nice little publication concerning solid analysis on any player you could possibly conceive. On April 1st, Matt Waldman released his 2017 publication of the Rookie Scouting Porfolio. While the price will likely scare you away, all I can say is if you're into knowing the details of nearly every draftable player worth of note, this publication has a lot of goodies on the strengths, weaknesses, and fit of every pros. Here's some more info related to this: https://mattwaldmanrsp.com/2017/03/31/the-2017-rookie-scouting-portfolio-is-now-available-for-download/?utm_content=bufferabd75&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer) Anyways, that's beside the point. Matt Waldman believes the best NFL comparison for Fournette would be Stephen Davis himself. I'm sure many of you remember him and his style, and the good ol' Delhomme days. Waldman believes Fournette's style is best compared to Davis'. They go over why and stuff within the podcast below. I recommend you listen in, it's some pretty good stuff. http://www.nfl.com/podcasts?id=b3968120c8cf0898aa8dfb0761eb3e42 https://mattwaldmanrsp.com/2017/03/29/rsp-on-nfl-fantasy-live-podcast/ So, thoughts?
  11. Two posts on draftable players from the same dude in one day? Bet. David Njoku is a guy I've been talking about for a while. In my 2.0 Mock Draft, I have us selecting him in the 2nd round, and I currently would not complain if that were still the case. David Njoku is an intriguing prospect. In fact, I'd argue he's the best TE from this class. Njoku is the most athletic TE from this draft, and his receiving skills are top notch. He's growing really fast into his frame, and he's looking like someone ready to round out to be one of the best. He's real good at attaining YAC, and he's good real good technique when blocking. To really understand what he's capable of doing, I'll revisit some stuff I originally posted from my highlights of him in my mock draft 2.0 segment: __________________________________________________________________________ *Originally Posted In This Post* TE David Njoku is a fantastic TE of the Miami Hurricanes. He's a big, athletic guy who has a bit of a burst to him. He's a converted WR to TE, and he's been a really productive TE for the canes. Despite only starting recently in the college season, and splitting time with TE Chris Herndon, he's been really productive. Not only that, but he's currently 6'4 and 245 lbs (He came out of high school at 217 pounds; he's only a sophomore in college right now). He's been real good with what chances he's been given. He has great catching ability, and is a pretty decent pass blocker. He's got a ton of potential, and learning from one of the league's best former canes in Olsen would be most beneficial in his development. What separates him from everyone is his ability to get separation and YAC. He's perhaps one of the best in college with that ability, and he's got good speed to it. The issue with this is his tendency with wanting to run before the catch, but with proper coaching he'll be an unbelievable monster. I truly believe he might be one of the gems Gettleman would just love - physical and talent potential - and I think we just might as well hit on him if we can. Why do I like him so much? Here's some tape: 1. He's Extremely Athletic - Like Extremely You probably know what I'm gonna compare this play to. Yep. Anyhow, Njoku is a 6'4 athletic player still growing into his body. He's got insane athleticism for his position, and his gift is really shown in the GIF He goes completely airborne over a defender after getting some nice running room, and flips his way into the endzone. He has unbelievable hops; he was his high school's jumping champion with a 6ft. 11in. jump. He shows amazing athleticism and speed in this play, and just scrambles his way into the endzone. He's a great prospect and threat with his athletic traits. He's essentially a lot like Cam Newton - in a sense - with how amazing his athletic ability is. Coupled with his great hands, running ability, and jump height, he looks like a prospect just on the verge of breaking out. Did I mention he's still growing into his frame? 2. He's A Physical Body - Tough Catcher In this highlight, Njoku catches the ball, then bounces off about 3 defenders before finally being brought down. He shows great physicality and strength; being able to stand up in the barrage of hits. He's got good hands, and he ensures he has the ball in his hand before finally being brought down. He's a pretty physical threat, and yet again he's still not fully developed in his frame yet. That's a pretty big deal indeed. 3. He's Got Dangerous YAC Ability Not only is he physical and athletic, he's quite fast too. In this highlight, Njoku just absolutely toasts this defense and turns his catch into a huge gain. He's able to run after catching for quite the distance, and get into the red-zone. He's consistently made plays like this throughout his breakout sophomore campaign, but he's truly a good prospect. If he's able to hinder his tendency to run before the catch, he could become a legit monster in the NFL. Due to the fact he's a sophomore heading in to the NFL draft, he has a high ceiling. These kind of plays just express how much of a play-maker he truly is. _____________________________________________________________ Do you see why I've been - and still am - really high on him? David Njoku isn't your average talent. He may be raw, but he's really coming out as a name to watch for. He deserves every shred of hype he's getting, and the combine may make people real excited about this freak. Now, the question still remains, will he be the best rookie TE coming out immediately? The answer to that question? Most likely not. Now don't get me wrong. This kid will eventually be seen as the best TE down the stretch, but he won't be the best immediately in the NFL. As much upside as he has, he still has to start somewhere. Now why isn't he? Well, simply because he's young. Understand he is 6'4 and 245 lbs, came out of high school at 217 pounds, and was only a sophomore in college. He just simply needs some more time to grow. However, it's very obvious his growth is happening at a rapid rate, and he could easily have an NFL ready body by the first game of the season. However, we have to factor that right now, he's a bit undersized, and that's okay. He has the athleticism and upside to really get up there, and not to mention technique. In the below video by analyst Matt Waldman (who I just love watching videos of) really gets into depth on Njoku more than I ever could, and shows why he has all the potential in the world to become a really good blocking TE. The only thing in the way between him and that is his size, and he should easily grow into his frame. Again, I really recommend you watch the video. He details every aspect of Njoku real well in his film analysis. He even has a few extra comments in this article he made: https://mattwaldmanrsp.com/2016/12/30/rsp-boiler-room-no-63-te-david-njoku-miami/ As you can see, his receiving is amazing, and his athleticism is off the charts. He's got all the upside in the world to be the one of the greatest TEs in the game, and he's got the intelligence and technique to boot. His blocking technique looks sound, and he's got a lot of potential in that area. Where he does get beat, he gets beat due to his size. He still shows great technique, and I have mentioned he is a fast grower. He's not done getting into his frame yet at all. If Njoku is available in the 2nd round and we don't gun for him, I'll probably be disappointed honestly. I really like this kid, and I think he'd be a massive steal in the 2nd. Look for Njoku as one of the best upcoming TEs in this draft.
  12. The Jamal Adams hype train has been real lately. Everyone would argue he'd immediately impact our defense in a tremendous way, and shore up anyone's secondary once he lands right in it. Everyone believes he's one of the safest picks this draft. But is he truly a finished, ready All-Pro right out of the gate? Ethan Young does not believe so. For context, Ethan Young is a draftnik who likes to utilize many statistical elements of the game and film when considering his analysis of people. He successfully predicted James Bradberry to be a beast in the NFL, and heralded him as one of the best corners from the draft BEFORE the Panthers even drafted him. He utilizes film, SPARQ, athleticism, brains, and stats when considering all his decisions. However, Ethan does not believe Jamal Adams is even worth a first rounder, let alone a top 5 pick. He believes Adams needs to be more finished to even be considered that high, and highlights a couple of deficiencies he notices in Jamal Adams game. Here's his comments: Dissecting him pretty hard. When they talk of Jamal Adams angles, I hate to say but I agree. I've seen him on a couple of occasions miss when he should've hit, but I assumed it'd be something shored up during Training Camp and such. He argues these three safeties are in front of Adams: Well, what do you think? Is the guy who predicted Bradberry to be a stud right about Adams not even being worth a first rounder?
  13. I recently came across a nice article pertaining to the strengths and weaknesses of Leonard Fournette, a likely prospect we may be looking at for #8. He's considered as "one of the best runningback prospects since Adrian Peterson" and a transcendental talent. Arguably, it would be asinine for the Panthers to pass up this player at number 8 if he truly is that huge of a prospect, right? Well, since I'm hounding on LSU boys today, it's Fournette's turn. From this article, his stats reveal quite a lot of things. Plenty of things come into focus from the stats itself, and may cause one to rethink Fournette's worth at #8 overall, or reaffirm that notion. https://www.fantasyguru.com/articles/yards-created-fournettes-2015-and-2016 I'll let you peak at this guy's intro to set the table: So, here's a look at what this guy says. Fournette: Better Yards Created Per Attempt In 2016 His comments: So, it appears the idea that Fournette's production decreased due to his ankle injury is unfounded and unrealistic. Fournette had virtually the same numbers in 2015 and 2016, and could arguably have done better in the 2016 season. Now, that looks good, doesn't it? It's pretty good, but it does show his injury isn't much of an excuse that many like to assume. Anyhow, off to more data: Missed Tackles: A Huge Difference His comments: What this reveals is something I have touched on before in one of my other posts. Fournette's not an elusive guy anymore, and it's certainly hard to ignore these statistics of his latest season. Consider that we're drafting the 2016 Fournette vs the 2015 Fournette, and it'd be hard to bank on his return to 2015 form immediately. This data also reveals he's one of the worst at missed tackles in recent years during his 2016 campaign. Huge dropoff from his 2015 campaign. To put it frankly, he forced 44% more missed tackles in 2015 than 2016. That's very concerning. However, he still could easily be better than 2016, so it's fair to assume he'll likely be average to above average starting out in the NFL remaining healthy, so I wouldn't put too much weight and negativity into here. Shotgun Production: Worst RB For It In Past Two Years Now, this is where it gets dicey. Consider our old offense, and how heavily we relied on the shotgun. Now, one could argue Cam would thrive if given the chance to play under center, and our offense will evolve to that, but even so you still can't take out Newton's threat to run on every conceivable play. Fournette needs to work on this and fine-tune such production real fast. Anyhow, here's his conclusion: So, Fournette is a special downhill runner, but one of the worst out of the shotgun and EW running. Should be a tad concerning. Considering he should be heavily scheme limited, this puts a cap on the potential and hype this guy brings in my honest opinion. If this keeps up, he may not be the best runningback since AP after all. Even AP could cut AND run downhill coming out of college, yet Fournette is limited. Anyways, what are your thoughts? What do you make of this data?
  14. In the flurry of moves Gettleman made last week during the first wave of free agency, he managed to grab a guy by the name of Charles Johnson. No, not our CJ. Minnie's CJ. Charles Johnson. WR Charles Johnson was a guy who seemed invisible in one of the worst offenses in the NFL. Once considered as a hopeful speedy deep threat for the Vikings, he seemed to barely contribute to anything worthwhile on that offense. After all, if you couldn't perform at a high level in one of the league's worst offenses, what says you can ever make an impact in the NFL? Well, I believe there's more to that story. When considering his film from last year, one thing clearly stands out - the kid isn't getting enough opportunities. Whether it's because the Vikes' oline can't block long enough for deep plays, or due to Bradford's incompetence as an NFL quarterback, he hasn't been able to break out and prove he truly could be a threat. In the following, I break down a few plays that bring to light the potential Charles Johnson brings, and how the Vikings hindered that. Now, that's not to say he does have some stuff to work on - which I'll also allude to - but he's certainly capped in his total potential. Without further ado, here's my case for Charles Johnson (I'll call him CJ2 in some instances): Source Video: My Thoughts + Breakdown If you watch the source video, you'll likely be shocked at how many missed opportunities Charles Johnson had. Not only was he limited in how many deep routes he ran on instances, his QB couldn't simply accurately pass to his deep target. Below is an example of such: You'll notice Charles Johnson is wide open, yet Bradford was unable to nail him. Charles Johnson breezes by the corner, yet the Viking's o-line and Bradford failed him. Certainly not the most encouraging thing to see for any offense. But I want you to notice that Charles Johnson is capable of getting open. In the above play, he shows to clearly whiz past the corner on a deep route and get open. Had Bradford nailed that pass, it would've been a walk in touchdown. Sadly, that was not the case. Charles Johnson does show promise as a deep threat, and I just believe he's been hindered from showcasing that. However, that's not to say he didn't get some chances. Take a look at below: He presses the corner then gets open deep for a huge gain, showcasing good speed and capability as a deep threat. Had that pass not been overthrown and if he were able to keep stride, it would be a walk in touchdown. He has capability to become a deep threat; something the Panthers need with the loss of Ginn, and I believe Gettleman took care of that perfectly. Charles Johnson certainly looks like the guy for the part. Another example of potential CJ2 brings, but Minnesota hampering it: In this play, Minnesota shows yet again its incapability of throwing the ball deep. With CJ2 speeding past the corner and wide open, Bradford under-throws/miss-times the ball to make it a no play. CJ2 was forced to slow down to compensate for such terrible QB play, which resulted in the corner easily catching up. This should've been an easy walk-in touchdown from Charles Johnson, but Minnesota can't time the ball right for him. The result of such was a dud play. One thing that's consistent in these videos is how bad Minnesota was at throwing the deep ball. Most of CJ2's failures came from the Vikings overthrowing or underthrowing many passes. They just don't hit on his potential well whatsoever. CJ2 is also capable of running horizontal routes and beating the coverage. Check out this play: CJ2 lines up to the left of Bradford and zooms by past the corners and linebackers to get open for a good chunk of yards. His speed helps whiz him by traffic and make a terrific grab near the boundary. There wasn't much near him to take away that catch whatsoever. A solid play. What the Vikings seem to use him in the most are in these type of short passes. Here's one example: They try and utilize his speed in this way, but I just think that's to help compensate for Bradford's arm. You'll find a lot of these style of plays where CJ2 is misused - in my opinion - rather than utilized for the deep threat he is. However, he does have some issues, particularly in quick short throws. Here's one example: In this play, CJ2 attempts to catch with his body or whatever and fails miserably. The result is a play that could've easily ended up as an interception. This is not what you want when you have your WR running a quick route like that. Even so, he still is pretty reliable overall. He does show better hands than Ginn, and he still makes plays that he'll likely be used for. However, he sometimes shows inability to beat corners when challenged. Here's an example of a jump-ball where he couldn't win: When going against a corner in tight coverage, he wasn't able to win the battle. Now, this is what is to be expected due to the fact he's not Funchess or Benjamin. He's not the WR we expect to be able to win those battles all the time. So, considering that, he'll likely not be the guy we look for in a situation like this. What he does show is a guy who can run routes and get open deep. A guy who will be able to beat corners with speed and win with a QB throwing him those bombs downfield. Cam Newton is known for being one of the best in the league at that, so I have no doubt CJ2 will see his potential unleashed. Conclusion WR Charles Johnson will be the perfect replacement for Ginn. He has the speed and skill to be a deep threat and beat corners with speed and get open. Paired with Cam Newton, he should be able to shine. He has more reliable hands in comparison to Ted Ginn, and he shows he's able to turn on the afterburners and rip past secondaries and defenses with his athleticism and speed. On the Panthers, he's our speed option we'll use to get defenses to respect us. His film shows he's been misused far too often, and his QB can't hit him deep to save his life. His potential is being capped due to the Vikings inability to utilize him for the deep threat he is. The knock on him is his sloppy route work. When it comes to technical routes with pieces and sharp cuts, he can't hit them right. Because of that inability, he'll often get little separation as a result of lagging in that area. Due to this, his ceiling isn't really high, and I'd argue lower than Shepard's. His ability as a deep threat and straight line route runner is real solid, but as a technical route runner - not so much. CJ2 may have looked like he underperformed on paper, but the film shows the Vikings made him underperform. On the Panthers, I see his career being revitalized and him being a consistent good deep threat for 2017. He's a perfect plug with a QB who can throw deep, and I have no doubt his production will make us miss Ginn less.
  15. I've been missing my Panthers data crunching, and an EXTREMELY active Free Agency so far got me ready to do some serious number crunching in Excel. Thanks to PFF's awesome Free Agent Tracker database, I decided to create a table summarizing moves made by ALL teams so far. There are lots of way's you can sort the table, but almost any way you look at it., Panthers come out near the very top in activity. Re-signing our own players, Adding new free agents from other teams, net players added. It also just so happens that we have the LOWEST % of unsigned UFAs remaining of any team even though we started with quite a high figure of 22 free agents. Dave and our front office have been doing WORK. Here's the table - sorted by net players added. Basically only the Bills are ahead of us in total signings and net players added. click on the table for a larger view. (How the heck did the Bills go into this offseason with a massive total of 38 free agents?!?!? Talk about re-building!) You might say, "oh it's just Carolina re-signing their own," and there would be some truth to this. Along with the Falcons, we've re-signed the highest number of our own Free Agents and we have the highest retention % of any team. BUT still, we're tied for 5th in terms of NEW free agents brought in! Pretty surprising for Dave Gettleman in the first week of free agency... We've also got a high number of players departing, signed with other teams... Really ANY way you look at it, this has been a shockingly busy Free Agency for the Panthers thus far. Exciting times to be a fan. [Apologies this is going to be a hit & run post tonight. I won't be able to read replies or comment further until tomorrow...]
  16. 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.
  17. So, amid the amazing flood of moves Gettleman has done the past 24 hours, there's one particular signing that I believe may pan to be one of our most significant ones. You may argue that bringing Peppers back, getting Captain Munnerlyn on a 4 year deal, having another Charles Johnson, having a solid veteran in Mike Adams, or even grabbing Matt Kalil are our key signings this offseason, but there's just one guy we grabbed that I believe will have a huge impact. His name is Russell Shepard. Now, I know many of you were probably like "who dat" when you saw his name pop up as a potential Panther. I probably would've been the same, if it weren't for the fact I grabbed him for a couple weeks in fantasy. He rose through the depth charts and became a solid contributor for the Bucs. However, he's not just a WR. He's also a solid ST gunner who just happens to be one of the key leaders in Tampa. He's very highly regarded in Tampa, and his work ethic and strive to get better was something that seemed to radiate on everyone. He worked pretty dang hard to achieve to the point where he has now, and the sky's the limit to where he can be. Tampa Bay fans certainly are not happy to hear about this move at all. They truly do believe this guy is something special. Take a look at a comment I came across: Currently, his role is comparable to Philly Brown, but I dare say his upside is to work his way to Steve Smith's level. Now, I'm not saying he'll become anything that Steve Smith was - Smitty is certainly a legendary player that comes once in a lifetime - but it's fair to say his improvement from his ground to his ceiling is very likely to be high. So, how will he have an impact day one? Well, take a look: Impact: Special Teams Ace Our special teams have always been mediocre. It's dull, it's boring, and it's average. Nothing special, except a lot of stupid mistakes. The only bright spots were Vernon Butler beasting last year, Jeremy Cash's role, and MVP GOAT P Andy Lee prior to his injury. Other than that, it's a joke. How can we fix this dilemma? Simple. Sign someone who has leadership in that area and thrives in it. Remember that time when Ginn decided to trip over Teddy Williams, causing a huge fumble against the Bucs? Well, you'll never guess who was there to gun for it. I've never seen a guy fall over that fast to snatch a ball. Russell Shepard turns into the flash for a split second and snags the ball Ginn fails to achieve. He showcases good position to make a play, and grabs the ball when the opportunity presented itself. He's done stuff like this for a while, and he's real good at it. There's a reason he's highly regarded as a ST ace for the Buccaneers, and how he led them to be 4th in opponent punt coverage average. He brings physicality, will, and leadership to a ST team group that desperately needs it. With our ST standout Cash making his name known on our group, Shepard would help complement his play with his leadership and skill. Certainly a substantial upgrade in that area. Impact: Route Running Around these parts, route running is a rarity. You got Funchess who seemed to only be able to run routes when he's practicing in training camp. You got Kelvin Benjamin who's like "fug it" and runs a sluggish whatever-you-call-it, and you got everyone else. The only guy on the team who can run anything worth a piece of crap is Olsen. That says a lot. Enter in Russell Shepard. Check out this route he runs down here: Blows off the 49er corner with a solid route to make a nice grab in the endzone. This is some solid route work here. He makes a play by showing off his football route tree against this corner, and it pays off. You don't normally see this level from Carolina receivers, but Shepard brings that aspect with him. Solid guy who can run some routes. Check out another play: In this instance, Jameis Winston throws another one of his erratic throws that he always loves doing. So, how does he get bailed out? Russell Shepard adjusts to his mistake and turns it into a positive. He adjusts himself and his route to accompany Winston's error to turn this play into a good gain. Shows yet again decent feel for the flow of the football game and his ability to bail his QB out in the case of accuracy issues. I don't know about you, but Cam was pretty inaccurate last season. Adding Shepard as his "spell-check" to the offense certainly will help bring back confidence in Cam as he's able to throw to a reliable route runner. Impact: Deep Hitch Route Running In case you didn't notice, Carolina loves using deep hitch routes. It's a staple; our offense predominantly uses that route to gain yardage and make good plays. If you're going to be a Carolina WR, you're going to have to be able to run that route well. Luckily for us, Shepard is really good at that. Take a look at this one: Shepard a deep hitch in space and gets good YAC against the 'Aints secondary, getting a nice gain and completion for the Bucs. Showcases good route running and technique, and catches the ball for a solid gain. This is seen multiple times as his favorite go-to route, and it's something the Panthers just love using. Check out another deep hitch route: He begins by running out and hitting the top real nicely on the deep hitch route. You watch him quickly set up the hitch and play as the corner flies by past him. He plants himself well to make the catch and go for the YAC. Shows good technique and skill in achieving this result. Seems to be a common theme in his good plays when he runs deep hitches, and something our offense loves. I guarantee you Cam will be loving this guy on our team as one of his go-to options. Solid contributor as a route-runner in our scheme. Endgame: Is He Worth It? Yes. He brings leadership and maturity to a section of our team that desperately needs it. He brings about solid route running with potential to be really great. A solid guy the Bucs hated to lose, but a huge gain for us. Don't sleep on this latest installment of Gettlemagic. This guy looks like he can be something.
  18. Hey all, A few of you have been very kind to let me know you miss some of the data analysis I used to do, and in particular, to ask if I can do some similar roster analysis by position groups as I did last year in the offseason. I'm just beginning to see quite a lot of light at the end of the tunnel in terms of a lighter workload with my job, after a pretty insane 6-8 months, and looking forward to doing some roster analysis very soon... Toward that end, I was browsing around some of the Panthers pages at Spotrac tonight. Spotrac is not a site I usually spend a lot of time on, except this time of year. It's probably been 8 - 10 months since I've been over there. It looks to me as if they've revised the site a bit. I landed on a page which looked quite different from what I remembered, and which I found VERY VERY helpful in giving a quick "at-a-glance" overview of how things stand in terms of contracts & free agents, position by position. http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/carolina-panthers/ Here are a couple of the facts that just JUMPED off the page at me. Shocking Observation #1 I was STUNNED to see how little we're paying for WR. Of course Ted Ginn is a pending free agent, so this could change fairly soon if we re-sign him, but even so, we're investing much less at WR than ANY OTHER POSITION on the team, only 4.8 million contracted for this position right now for 2017, which is really surprising for a position where we usually have 5 or 6 players on the 53. Heck, we're spending nearly twice as much for SPECIAL TEAMS than WR! Yikes. Looks like an open door for bringing in some new talent, which we sorely need. I wonder if we have been spending near the least on WR in the league? Might be interesting to research... Maybe I just find this particularly shocking in comparison to the Antonio Brown signing. 1 player getting 4 times what our whole current WR corps is getting. Wow. Here's a closer look at the WRs on our Roster. This is clearly a position where we're back in re-build mode after high hopes last offseason that we were developing some good talent and stability after a few years of churning. It didn't happen. Yes, I think some of the guys like Damiere Byrd, Key Garrett, and Philly Brown still have lots of upside, but really, at least in terms of proven players, pretty much apart from KB we have a clean slate... Funch certainly is not yet proven. He didn't have a good year in 2016. I'm not as confident about him as I was following his rookie season... Looking at the above, I really HOPE we do re-sign Ted Ginn for a reasonable amount. YES, bring in new blood and competition too both via free agency & the draft, but without Ginn we would have HUGE holes at WR. Shocking Observation #2: Counting pending free agents, we currently have an INCREDIBLE total of 18 Olinemen on the roster, Yes, 18, including 8 tackles, and yet even amidst all those bodies we don't have much talent or any certainty at EITHER RT or LT. NO CERTAINTY at all. Of course a lot of these guys are just camp bodies / practice squad guys and many may soon be gone..., but truly this is a position disaster, and it looks like our Front Office is just throwing up stuff onto the wall and hoping something sticks - or hoping they find a diamond in the manure pile. (Granted, they did a pretty good job sniffing out Andrew Norwell, and also Tyler Larsen as a potential backup Center looked very solid and rose from the heap. Really hope we keep him... but Cs and Gs are much easier to find than franchise Left Tackles.) We can't assume Oher will be back. We MUST assume he's likely not going to play. Remmers has proven to be a liability, (although I'm ok if we re-sign him as depth and potential back up at both RT and LT if D. Williams starts at RT in 2017. At least Remmer's a better back up LT option than DAVID FOUCAULT!) We've GOT to sign a proven vet during free agency to shore up LT. MUST. MUST. MUST. If Dave doesn't do it, I will be jumping on the Gettle-bashing bandwagon headfirst. So, those are the two big things that jumped out at me browsing Spotrac tonight. Anyone else notice anything as you browse the team roster / contract situation? Give a look-see then comment here. http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/carolina-panthers/
  19. SS Jamal Adams is getting a ton of hype. Many here consider him - including me - an absolute must-grab if available with the #8 pick. He would immediately solidify a position of necessity (SS) and provide immediate impact and leadership to go along with our ball-hawking Kurt Coleman when he's moved to his natural FS position. As I was searching around for some good information concerning draft picks, I came across this beauty: Certainly never heard of this commentator/youtuber before, but he provides some very good insight into Jamal Adams and what he brings to the table. If him and Fournette are available at the same time, that'd certainly be a tough choice. But, after thinking, I believe we could find immediate value in the later rounds at runningback, and come out with a solid day one starter in Adams if he's available. I certainly want him after watching this. Discuss.
  20. Note: these tables and graphs are discussed and explained in greater detail in a Carolina Huddle home page entry. You can find the article here: [link to follow] Panthers have only won 8 season openers in their history, but in 5 of those 8 seasons, they've been to the playoffs. In 2005 and 2013, the Panthers lost very close season openers, but went on to have excellent seasons, and make the playoffs. Does the week 1 score have any correlation with season scoring - either points scored or points allowed? Here are the data to help answer those questions - both in table and graph format. First, here's a look at Points Scored in week 1 and in the averages for each season (in all games, losses, and wins) Here are the data in terms of points allowed in week 1 games, and for each season:
  21. Continuing my occasional series looking back at the Panthers 2015 season... Previous entries include: A review of the Panthers roster week-by-week, including season snap totals for each player. A look at red-zone scoring percentage - comparing 2015 and 2014. A look at the Panthers' record at home versus away. *** Today I want to look a bit more closely at points per game. It is still astounding to me that the Panthers led the NFL in scoring in 2015, and especially the fact that we did it without our #1 wide out Kelvin Benjamin. It would have been one thing if the points per game stat were inflated by one or two huge wins, but what is most striking to me as I look back at the 2015 stats, is the CONSISTENCY of our scoring success throughout the season. It is pretty remarkable, and I thought it might be worth digging into and doing some comparison with past seasons, and with a few other teams.... Here's a look at points scored and allowed per game week-by-week in 2015: Only in the first quarter of the season did we average less than 30 points per game. The consistency is striking. Twelve weeks in a row from week 3 to week 15 when we scored at least 27 points - and that included our toughest stretch of the season - the "murderer's row" stretch against Seattle, Philly, Indy & Green Bay. Just look at that again. It's AMAZING: only 2 games (our 2 losses) when we scored fewer than 20 points. only 4 games when we scored fewer than 25 points 10 games when we scored at least 30 points 8 games when we scored at least 35 points 3 games when we scored at least 40 points Given that I'm a pretty recent Panthers fan, I thought it would be interesting to compare those numbers with previous Panthers' seasons. What I notice from the table above is that the sheer number of games where we scored at least 20 or 30 points, while both franchise records, isn't too far above several past seasons' achievements: In 2005 the Panthers scored at least 20 points in 15 games, only two fewer than in 2015. In 1999 (only an 8-8 season), the Panthers scored at least 30 points in 8 games, just two fewer than the 10 games which achieved that feat in 2015. It's fun to note that in Cam Newton's 5 seasons as a Panther, the team has had SIX 40+ point games, equaling the combined total for 40 point games during all 16 years prior to Cam. (In 16 years pre-Cam, the Panthers averaged one 40 point game every 3 years. With our 2015 success, Cam is averaging better than one 40 point game per season.) What really got my attention in looking back at the 2015 season in light of Panthers history was the right side of the table and the consecutive games streaks. This is where the 2015 Panthers blew past team history out of the water. Previously the longest streak of consecutive 20+ point games was 9 games, in 2005. The Panthers smashed that streak with the 14 consecutive 20+ point games in 2015. The team's average 20+ point games streak over it's history is five games per season. Consistency in our offense and scoring production has not really been a trait the Panthers are known for. A game in which the offense clicked and put up dozens of points was often followed by a game where the team couldn't move the ball. 2015 shattered that stereotype and historical pattern, and if the Panthers can continue this kind of scoring consistency in 2016 and beyond, special things are going to happen. While interesting (to me at least), those numbers and streaks of 20, 30 and 40 point games are only part of the picture in understanding our league-leading scoring offense in 2015. Here's a look at the scoring data (points scored, points allowed) and offensive and defensive rankings (by points) for all 21 Panthers seasons: No Panthers offense had previously ranked higher than 4th in the league in terms of scoring, and there had been only five prior seasons where the Panthers had a top-10 scoring offense. Measured by points, the Panthers offense typically ranked in the bottom half of the league (17th). In only three prior seasons (1999, 2008, 2011) had we ever scored more than 400 points in a season, (while in double that number of seasons - six - we FAILED to score even 300 points in a season. OUCH!) 500 points for the Panthers in 2015?!?! Without Kelvin Benjamin? Really?! YES!!! Interestingly, two of our three previous highest-scoring seasons (1999 and 2011) were not winning seasons for the Panthers. Our defense in those seasons was near the bottom of the league (26th and 27th) in terms of points allowed. No matter how good an offense is at scoring, it means little if the defense is giving away points. (See the New Orleans Saints for further evidence!) High-flying offense is exciting, but combine it with an excellent, stingy defense as we did in 2015, (and also in 1996 and 2005) and you have a recipe for winning. Hopefully we mastered that recipe in 2015 and will continue perfecting it in 2016.... In my next season-in-review post I'll look more closely at the defense and some stats related to our league-leading performance in forcing turnovers and capitalizing off of them.
  22. I'm not sure how many entries I'll post in the coming weeks in the "2015 Season in Review" series I'm hoping to do.... I don't have a master plan! But as I post things, I'll link them here to create a 2015 Season in Review Stats & Analysis Index. 1. RED ZONE SCORING (May 8, 2016) - there are two entries for this topic: blog entry briefer entry in Panthers Forum 2. Winning % Home versus Away games (May 8, 2016) 3. 2015 Panthers Roster game by game, and snap counts (May 4, 2016) For reference, the other day I posted a game-by-game overview of the Panthers roster and which players were active. This post also included season snap counts for each player. Updated to include "lost snaps" of players who've departed and need to be replaced. To be continued.... ------ Note: I'll try to remember to tag all entries with the "panthers 2015" and "season in review" tags to make it easier to follow this series.
  23. Now that the draft is over, and in the lull prior to OTAs, Mini-Camp & Training Camp, I'm bored and missing Panthers' football. That creates a great opportunity to go back and do a more thorough 2015 Season-In-Review series related to the stats from last season. I cracked open my 2015 gamebook data spreadsheet for the first time in over two months today and was browsing around the stats there to see what jumped out at me... What most caught my eye, and therefore I want to focus on in this entry is the Panthers DRAMATIC IMPROVEMENT in the RED ZONE in 2015. In fact, I don't think I realized this until today, but we ranked 2nd in the NFL (behind Detroit, oddly enough) in regular season red-zone touchdown %. When you include the post-season, we led the NFL in Red Zone TD efficiency. We improved from a Red Zone Touchdown percent of 48% in 2014 (ranked 26th in the NFL) to over 69% in 2015 (ranked 1st). Here's the data from 2011 - 2015. Note that we not only improved on Red Zone TD%, but significantly increased the number of times were were getting in the red-zone, even exceeding Cam's high-flying rookie season in 2011. Furthermore, we also increased our total Red Zone scoring percentage, avoiding turnovers in the Red Zone. Let's look at the data up close & personal, for both the 2014 and 2015 seasons: In 2014, in 7 of our first 14 games we had a Red Zone Touchdown % of less than 50%. In a horrid 5 game stretch in mid season (Seattle - Min), we only scored 2 TDs in 9 trips to the Red Zone. Ouch. But in general, we were struggling to even get in the red zone in that stretch, let alone score TDs. In 2015, we only had a RZ TD % under 50% in two games (week 1 and week 4). After our pivotal win at Seattle in week 6 (where we were 3-for-3 in Red Zone TDs) we never again dropped below 50% in red zone TD scoring. One other thing I found particularly impressive is that in all but 4 of our 72 trips into the red zone in 2015, we came away with at least a field goal. 50 TDs and 18 FGs in 72 Red Zone trips. Pretty amazing. Since I know tables can make people's eyes glaze over, here's the 2014 and 2015 data in graph form: The Houston, Dallas, at Atlanta and Denver games really stick out when you look at the 2015 data, both for few red zone attempts and few red zone TDs. Of course the Atlanta & Denver games were our only two losses. In Dallas we didn't overwhelm on offense, but didn't need to as our defense was so dominant (two pick 6s...). Against Houston too, our defense helped us win. It might be interesting to review these 4 games in some detail (both game film, and stats) to identify what factors dampened our offense in these games. Here's another comparison of the two years - looking at red zone performance side by side for wins & losses each season: I find it interesting that the performance even in winning games in 2014 was quite a bit weaker than in 2015. In 2015, our offense just hit a new level entirely. A 70% Red Zone touchdown % is REALLY GOOD. And this was without Kelvin Benjamin!! Finally, while there are MANY factors that contribute to a win or loss in the NFL, here's a quick breakdown of how we fared from 2011 - 2015 when our Red Zone TD% was 50% or less, vs. when it was above 50%. I've not done formal statistical analysis on this data, but there's (not surprisingly) a clear correlation between converting Red Zone trips into touchdowns and winning. In 2013 and 2015 we did still find ways to win some games when we were struggling to score TDs in the Red Zone, but overall from 2011 - 2015, we only won 36% of the games where we scored TDs on 50% or fewer of our Red Zone attempts, while we won 76% of the games where we scored TDs on more than 50% of our RZ attempts. At some point I may take a closer look at 2013 - 2015 Red Zone data and try to identify patterns and teams where we struggle in the Red Zone. But if I do that analysis, it will be for another day, and another post. I'll also try to do some additional "Season-in-Review" entries in the coming weeks, mining the gamebook data for interesting stats & analysis. Stay tuned.... ---------- Update: I've posted an exceerpt of this blog entry over on the Panthers Forum. Here's the link to the discussion thread:
  24. (Earlier today I posted two "waaaaay toooo early roster prediction" comments in another Huddler's "Preliminary Depth Chart" thread in the Panthers' forum, and thought it might be worth posting that analysis here for future reference...) Gettleman has a weakness for Hog Mollies. He admitted he couldn't help himself in picking Butler. (No complaints, I think it was a very solid pick). I have a weakness for spreadsheets! Even though I said I wasn't gonna do it... I couldn't help myself. Since I'm very curious about whether all of our draft picks will make the roster this year, and since I've gotten an early crush on a couple of our UDFAs, and since I'm wondering what positions we might still need to bolster with FA signings, I wanted to play with the roster and see how it's shaping up... how many spots are realistically open. So... here you go. Just my opinion of course. Offense here, then will follow with defense in the next comment. Panthers' Offense: I came up with 14 almost certain locks (barring injury or a very unexpected decline in play). The only potential question mark I could see among this group is Tolbert. I'm pretty sure we're expecting to keep him this season, but looks like we're bringing in some solid competition: (UDFAs RB Devon Johnson, FB Andrew Bonnet). Beyond that are 8 semi-definite locks, numbered above from 15 (Joe Webb) to 22 (Beau Sandland). In a few cases I've chosen the player whose position it is to lose (Fozzy, Philly, Chris Scott, Gino Gradkowski). Right now these guys are penciled in... but it's not at all too hard to imagine that they could be beat out by someone else. This leaves maybe 2 or 3 openings on the roster. With only 4 WRs highlighted above, I'd tend to think there could be another 2 WRs added, with Garrett in the running just because he could be a target to be poached from our PS. Also, I'm quite nervous carrying only 8 Oline guys on our 53. Would really like a 9th so, I am advocating for a veteran OT pickup. If we add 2 WRs and 1 OT (yet to be found), this would give us: 3 QBs (though Webb's primary role is on ST) 3 RBs 1 FB 3 TEs 2 C 3 G 4 T 6 WRs TOTAL: 25 players on Offense. In addition to the 22 players numbered above, I'll go out on a limb with a WAAAAYYYY TOO EARLY (sight unseen!) prediction, and predict that Garrett & Hill will be the WRs to make the roster, along with a yet to be signed OT. Now for Defense: This is a LOT more fluid. A couple of position groups (DE, CB & S) will have serious competition. Here's how I see it shaping up now in this WAAAYYY TOO EARLY analysis: I have only 10 near certain locks for the roster... meaning (as we all know) there are starting spots up for grabs... even my #10, Tre Boston is a bit uncertain. I have him as a lock to make the roster. But whether he starts...? We'll have to see. After these 10 are another 7 pretty solid bets to be on the 53, for a total of 17 certain or semi-certain locks. That means as many as 8 spots up for grabs.... Wow. I've indicated those I think are the current favorites to win these open spots with question marks. As with Garrett on Offense, I think Jeremy Cash has a good head-start to make the roster if we like him at all, because he would quite likely get poached from our PS. This would give us 25 players on defense, as follows: DEs 5 (gave the 5th spot to Miley based on how close he came to making the roster last year) DTs 5 (I could see us cutting Kyle Love... but for now he's got a spot to lose) LBs 6 (I've gone with Jacobs as it's currently his position to lose, but no means am certain he'll win the spot) S 4 (After Coleman and Boston, this is a wide open competition! I've guessed re: Marlowe & Cash) CBs: 5 (Since DG has not yet ever cut a draft pick, I presume all 3 of our draft picks will make the roster, but I'm not entirely comfortable with this combination of A solid player (Bene) coming off a late-season injury; A new FA (Boykin); and Three raw rookies. If we trim someone from the DL, I could see us carrying 6 CBs this season, perhaps keeping McClain as veteran depth / insurance. As for Special Teams... I can not imagine us carrying 4 on our roster. Only 3. (But it would not shock me at all if we carried a 2nd punter on our practice squad until we're sure about whomever we sign.) So: Jansen and Gano are locks, with a Punter TDB. Swayze Waters currently is the favorite, but he'll have competition in Palardy and probably at least one other punter (perhaps a veteran) in camp. So there you have a 53 man roster. 25 offense, 25 defense & 3 ST
  25. I've started posting some original tables and game analysis in two threads on the Panthers discussion forum. The Stats & Analysis thread has various statistics & analysis from other sources, as well as my own analysis of offensive production by quarter: Here is the offense by quarter table and analysis for both the Jacksonville & Houston games: Then, in another thread, I've posted my "Game at a Glance" tables and analysis for week 2: At some point I may copy my original tables and analysis for week 2 here, but for now, I wanted to bookmark these links to make it easy for people to find them. UPDATE: I've now posted my gamebook spreadsheet with all the game data (team stats) for weeks 1 and 2. You'll find it here: