Ruff’s New-Look-Team Mock
In an earlier thread, I brought up the question of how our defense would look, and how our draft needs would change, if we were to get a head coach/coaching staff that favors the 34 over the 43. Again, this is based off of the fact that we would be switching schemes, so keep that in mind.
New GM: Tom Gamble – Director of Player Personnel, San Francisco 49ersAfter the Hurney reign, we really need someone to come in who has been a part of all aspects of the front office positions. We need someone who has scouted, who has negotiated contracts, who has been involved in trades. We really need a well-rounded GM. We need Tom Gamble.
Gamble has some familiarity with the Carolina Panthers (being a scout here under Bill Polian) which I really think gives him the edge in the GM race. Sure, Marc Ross seems like a good candidate, but he has done nowhere near the sheer amount of work that Tom Gamble has done.
New Head Coach: Wade Phillips – Defensive Coordinator, Houston TexansWade Phillips, whaaaaaaaaat? Yes, Wade Phillips. After seeing how the league is becoming, and watching how defenses are falling by the wayside, it’s easy to forget about defensive coordinators. But, then you see Wade Phillips’ defense play, and it shows you again how awesome a defense could actually be. With a career winning record, Phillips has been an above-average coach everywhere he’s been including Buffalo, where no one has won in years, and in Dallas, putting up with Jerry Jones.
Sure, people will point to his career playoff record, but with this team, Wade will have something that he’s never had before. A true franchise QB. With Cam Newton on offense and Luke Kuechly on defense, Wade has the beginnings of a great, great team.
New OC: John Benton – Offensive Line Coach, Houston TexansJohn Benton has been the offensive line coach under Gary Kubiak for the entire length of Kubiak’s stay in Houston. The offense would immediately change from a shotgun-based, zone-read offense (with some sort of Air Coryell in there somewhere) to a stretch run offense utilizing Cam’s mobility on bootlegs and play-action passes, while also pushing out a huge running game. Jonathon Stewart, or any other running back in the backfield, will immediately benefit from the incredible style of the offense.
New DC: Reggie Herring – Linebackers Coach, Houston TexansWhy so many Texans’ coaches? Well, one, the Houston Texans have become a winning franchise over the past few years, and a team that is drafting well and developing talent well. Also, because new coaches bring in their guys, guys they know and trust. If anyone can be said to be Wade Phillips’ “guy”, it’s definitely Reggie Herring.
Herring has been with Phillips since they were both on the Cowboys’ staff together, with Herring following Wade to Houston after Phillips was fired from Dallas. Herring has developed talent such as Connor Barwin, Brian Cushing, Brooks Reed, was instrumental in switching Mario Williams from DE to OLB, and also helped coach DeMarcus Ware up. He even took over for Wade’s playcalling when Wade left the team last season for surgery.
Free Agent Signings
Bradie James, ILB – Houston TexansBradie is a player that has followed Wade Phillips for years, knowing the system well. He’s a true veteran, could spell the inside linebackers that we would have now, and could help transition the team to the current system.
Josh Cribbs, WR – Cleveland BrownsJosh Cribbs has been fiending to leave Cleveland for quite some time. He’s been demoted to a lesser role, with the emergence of Greg Little and the other young receivers for the Browns. Couple that with the fact that there could be a new offensive scheme in Cleveland, I’m sure Cribbs comes out. With the allure to play with Cam and our need for special teams and receiving help, it seems like a nice fit for all parties involved.
Jairus Byrd, FS – Buffalo BillsI know there’s a collection of people who don’t think we could afford Jairus Byrd, but, as all people who play (or have played) in the NFL have said, a contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. If you look over my projected depth chart at the bottom, you’ll notice a few names missing. With those missing, I think we can clear up some space to sign a big time free agent, along with the lower-priced free agents above.
Being one of Jonathon Stewart’s best friends, I believe that Stewart can talk Byrd into coming to Carolina. He plays at a position of huge need, fitting well into a 34 that he was drafted into. He can ball-hawk like few other safeties out there, being able to pick off some of the best QBs in the NFL. Byrd is a nice fit for the Panthers.
AND NOW THE DRAFT PICKS!!!
1st Round: Chance Warmack, OG – AlabamaSome people will see this pick and will question what I was thinking. Yes, I’m absolutely aware that Luke Joeckel is the absolute best lineman in this draft, and probably the best lineman prospect in years. But, with our schedule here at the end of the season, I believe that we won’t be in a position to take Joeckel. With that being said, we look elsewhere for much needed offensive line help. If we can’t get the best tackle in the draft, we can definitely get the best guard prospect in years.
It’s hard to say any one is a sure thing when it comes to the Draft, but Chance Warmack is a guy who definitely brings the words to mind. He’s huge, but not fat. He’s strong, but he doesn’t rely on just that. He’s played in a pro style system. He can move in open space, he can pass block. Chance Warmack can pretty much do it all, and does it at an extremely high level.
Warmack can immediately come in and start, even though I think that he needs to play on the right side in the NFL, because that’s where your team’s best run blockers should be. With a stretch run system, he will be relied on heavily to open up holes either with Kalil or with Bell. Warmack is a fantastic, ten-year-All-Pro type player.
2nd Round: Jackson Jeffcoat, DE/OLB – TexasJackson Jeffcoat could end up being the next Ryan Kerrigan-esque player. He’s tall, lean, can play with his hand in the dirt, can rush the passer from the stand-up outside linebacker position, and can even drop back in coverage from either position. He’s versatile, he comes from a powerhouse school, and he’s played against the best of the best (Luke Joeckel) many times.
There is some concern about his ruptured pectoral muscle, but, by the time the Combine comes around, Jeffcoat should be ready to go. If not, his draft position will be based upon his success through-out his school career, meaning he could drop back a little further (into the early 3rd). But, in the early 2nd, Jeffcoat is an absolute awesome pick.
4th Round: Joseph Fauria, TE – UCLAIf you’re wondering why we would use a pick on a TE, you obviously haven’t ever seen the way the stretch run offense works. It requires a nimble, blocking TE who can both run block down on linebackers, as well as someone who can sneak through the middle of the defense and catch passes sure-handedly.
Greg Olsen is not that type of TE. Joseph Fauria, however, is. With an NFL pedigree, great hands, awesome run blocking ability, and big game performances, Joseph Fauria would be the perfect fit in a system that has made Owen Daniels (when healthy) look like a Pro Bowler. I think that Fauria could be another Daniels type TE.
5th Round: Johnny Adams, CB – Michigan StateJohnny Adams is an interesting prospect. He has all of the upside you could hope for in a draft pick, it just has never really come together like it should have. He’s physical, even though he’s small. He can play ball-hawk, even though he’s not the fastest guy out there. Most importantly, he could be a huge addition to our special teams.
The one plus to Johnny Adams is that he’s an incredible zone defender. He has the speed to make up lost ground and he can hit hard enough to separate the receiver from the ball. Will Johnny start immediately? No, he won’t. He’ll need a year or so to get accustom to the NFL and a true NFL scheme, but in the end, Johnny Adams could be a steal this late in the draft.
6th Round: John Wetzel, OT – Boston CollegeAlex Wetzel is one of the only pieces of Boston College that looks worth anything. Even during their poor season, John Wetzel really shone. He was originally a back-up, then moved to LT and played 12 games, then was moved to RT this season, showing that he has the versatility to play either side. In this case, however, he will primarily be used as a back-up to Jordan Gross while Gross finishes out his career.
After a season or so, Wetzel will know how to play the LT position at this level and play it well, especially under the tutelage of a guy like John Benton as OC.
7th Round (Compensatory pick for D. Connor): Bruce Taylor, ILB – Virginia TechBruce Taylor is a guy who should be drafted way, way higher than the 7th round. However, a serious injury to his right foot has took him out of the season this year and will probably make him miss through the Combine and into OTAs next season, if not into Training Camp.
If the injury heals properly, however, Bruce Taylor is worth the wait. He’s quick, he can make tackles, he can play special teams, and he play both zone and man. I think it’s appropriate to take Bruce Taylor, let him sit for a year and learn, while under the wing of a former Virginia Tech linebacker, James Anderson.
Undrafted Free Agent Signings
Casey Barth, K – UNCYay, a kicker!
Mike James, RB – MiamiAnother running back, this time picked up in free agency, to help spell Jonathon Stewart.
Jordan Rodgers, QB – VanderbiltI believe that Clausen will finally be let go, so we turn to an undrafted rookie to fill in for that 3rd QB/inactive spot. What better QB than Aaron Rodgers’ little brother?
Projected Starting Line-UpQB: Cam Newton/Derek Anderson/Jordan Rodgers[udr]
RB: Jonathon Stewart/Tauren Poole/Mike James[udr]
FB: Richie Brockel
WR: Steve Smith
WR: Brandon LaFell
WR: Josh Cribbs*
WR/TE: Greg Olsen
WR: Joe Adams
TE: Joseph Fauria[r]/Ben Hartsock
LT: Jordan Gross/John Wetzel[r]
LG: Amini Silatolu/Jeremy Bridges
C: Ryan Kalil/Thomas Austin
RG: Chance Warmack[r]/Jeremy Bridges
RT: Byron Bell/Bruce Campbell
DE: Greg Hardy/Antwan Applewhite
NT: Sione Fua/Frank Kearse
DE: Charles Johnson/Dwan Edwards
OLB: Thomas Keiser/Thomas Davis
ILB: James Anderson/Bruce Taylor[r]
ILB: Luke Kuechly/Bradie James*
OLB: Jackson Jeffcoat[r]/Thomas Davis
CB: Josh Norman/Josh Thomas/Sherrod Martin
NB: Captain Munnerlyn
SS: Charles Godfrey
FS: Jairus Byrd*/Sherrod Martin
CB: Josh Thomas/Johnny Adams[r]/Sherrod Martin
K: Casey Barth[udr]
P: Brad Nortman
KR: Josh Cribbs*
PR: Joe Adams
LS: JJ Jansen
[r] – Rookie
[udr] – Undrafted Rookie
* - Free Agent Signing