It has a lot to do with where we have picked throughout the Fox era. His first draft netted us early picks (thanks to the 1-15 year). Since then, however, we've had picks in the mid to late part of the first rounds.
That first season, Julius Peppers was a no-brainer pick, the obvious cream of the crop. And that happens every year, the real cream of the crop goes in the first seven picks or so. The others then have to hope that who is first on their draft board is still available or that someone even better falls to them.
From a fan's perspective, we try and pick by position. It makes a lot of sense to us and that is how the sports news guys go about it. Maycock and others all tout this lineman or that receiver.
Some teams always pick this way. They are generally losers and chasers. You know, teams like the Lions, Raiders and Browns that can never seem to put it together and always dwell at the bottom of the heap. Or the Chasers like the Cowboys or Redskins that are always trying to fill a spot of weakness on last year's team as they keep chasing after the respectability their teams had in yesteryear. They are always trying to fix last year's team and that really doesn't work. (These teams usually are getting strong pushes on picks/acquisitions from the ownership rather than the coaching staff.) They get a bit of tunnelvision as they tinker with last year's team, forgetting that you can't go back and recreate history but instead think forward and plan ahead.
Then you come to a team like the Panthers. This is a contender team, built to challenge for the top positions. It doesn't feature a big name game-breaker (Peyton Manning, the LT of old, Brett Favre, Michael Vick of old, etc...) around which to hang the framework of a SuperBowl bound team. Instead, it relies on a team concept.
Sometimes these Concept Teams really, really work well. The past decade's New England Patriots or the San Francisco 49ers of the '80s/early '90s are fine examples, as are the Steelers of the 1970s, Browns of the 1950s or the Packers of the '60s. The team has an identity, a style of play (West Coast offense, smash mouth, etc...) and players are picked to fit into that mold. A Concept Team might pass on a great receiver to pick up a guard that fits their style better, making picks that leave some "experts" saying how "interesting" that particular choice is. Once the pick is made, it makes perfect sense, but it's hard to predict these without taking the time to go deep into analysis of that team's potentials.
So, back to Carolina. We're a concept team and a contender. We're at worst, middle of the pack in the Fox era and at best a Super Bowl contender. The concept is a smash-mouth running team featuring limited deep strike passing and a bend-don't break defense. In other words, a classic conservative football team. As such, we need strong line support on the offense, strong running backs and our defensive strength starts at the linebackers and then moves to the DL. More than anything, it requires players that can take multiple roles and responsibilities. Brutes for the linemen, cannonballs for the running backs, daredevils for linebackers. If one of those is available when Carolina comes to pick, they will be taken over any positional athlete, no matter the skillset. If one of those three is not available, then the best available athlete is taken, preferably a smart one with strong ethics. The best athlete can then be molded into what the team concept needs -- i.e. Thomas Davis safety to linebacker or Steve Smith KR to WR.
So who will we pick? Heck if I know. Too many teams go before us, but I am betting that it will either be a lineman if one of the tops is still available, or they will move to a hybrid-type player who could fill multiple roles. Strange to say, but if The Golden Calf of Bristol is available, they may take him for the potential of the QB or receiver, whatever the long term needs of the team concept dictate. Or you might see an Armanti Edwards sneak in.
Edited by Khyber53, 28 March 2010 - 07:38 AM.