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    • First three rounds are where you have to find starters, or players that will be ready to start in 1-2 years. Oftentimes bad drafts don't rear their ugly heads until years later, when those players who should be taking over or earning their second contracts simply don't exist. It's no surprise the Panthers have struggled overall since the super bowl; look at that 2014 draft. Woof. This has ripple effects down the entire rosters, as guys who should be backups are now starting, and guys who should be on the street are forced to be backups/play special teams.  The first three rounds also give insight into what the team values. These draft picks are your most valuable commodities, and where you invest them shows a lot about what the team values, and where the team is going. The Patriots, for example, value having lots of picks because they're playing the odds, whereas the Panthers like to use theirs to move around to target specific players. But I digress. The Panthers, especially since the rule changes in 2006/2007, with two notable exceptions, have been swimming against the tide of the league. While offensive line has become the most valued position in the NFL outside of QB, the Panthers have been mostly ignoring it.  It's always nice when someone past the 3rd round develops (Norwell for example), but obviously that was just luck. If the Panthers knew he was so good, they would have taken him earlier. Any successful picks past the third are gravy.  I will also argue, for the sake of this thread (and I don't think this is controversial), that since 2006 the NFL has emphasized favoring the passing game over all else. Rule changes forced through by Bill Polian made it more difficult for corners to cover, and proceeding rule changes made the QB untouchable in the pocket. (Yes, I know Panthers fans, just bear with me) In response, defenses must get to the quarterback quickly, making protecting him all the more important. Defensive lineman are getting faster and more athletic, while fewer pro ready offensive linemen are entering the draft due to offensive changes at the college level. Lastly, people might point out the Panthers have had some success in later rounds, despite their relative failure earlier. While this may be true, those are still assets that never had the chance to develop at other positions. Landing Geoff Schwartz, for example, does not make up for trading back into the first for Jeff Otah. I'm sure all of us, if we could, would tackle Hurney to the ground if we could travel back in time to stop that from happening. So, let's take a look at the offensive line starting in the hurney era. What you'll notice are big hits early, then a whole lot of nothing.  2003 - Jordan Gross T - A+ would draft again. Panthers didn't even a have a QB at the time yet, but whoever they ended up with, they were going to pass block for him. 2004 - Travelle Wharton T - A+ would draft again.  editors note: had the entire team not died in the first 3 weeks of 2004, this John Fox team would have made it deep into the playoffs 03-05. amazing what drafting offensive line can do) 2005 - Evan Mathis G/T - was one of the best offensive linemen in the league for several years after he started taking uh....... supplements. He started 15 games in Carolina in 2006 before getting hurt and vanishing until 2011. Don't really blame the Panthers for this. Sometimes a player just takes time, like Terrell McLain editor's note - after this season, the Panthers went out and signed the biggest free agent offensive lineman on the market. Why did things change why WHY 2007 - Ryan Kalil G/C - A+ Kalil was originally drafted as depth/swing guard, because the Panthers had big ticket free agent signing from 2006 justin hartwig still on the roster. turned into a 12 year starter, one of the most beloved panthers in team history, one of the best players in team history. Draft offensive lineman you fugers! 2008 - Jeff Otah T - Jeff Otah had massive questions about his give a poo heading into the draft. In 2008 the Panthers probably had the best offensive line in team history, and he was an important part of it. Hurney paid dearly for this pick, and I've gone at lengths about the horrible ripple effects this pick had. Otah proceeded to suffer several suspicious soft tissue injuries which he insisted on rehabbing at a Massage Envy. He was out of the league in three years.  This is pretty great! These were all face of the franchise players! Yeah, well, things are about to get dire.  2012 - Amini Silatulu Bench/Training Room - this was a horrible reach at the time, and an example of hurney thinking he's smarter than everyone else and falling in love with a project. Physically could not stay on the field, and was worthless the rare times he could.  2014 - Trai Turner G - okay this is a good pick 2017 - Taylor Moton T - not doing cam any favors right now 2019 - Greg Little T - ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ so in about 19 years of panthers drafting, 9 times in the first three rounds (about 60 picks total) the Panthers tried to improve their offensive line.  Since cam Newton was drafted in 2011, they've only spent 4 picks on the offensive line out of 24 first three round picks. And when they've done it, they're not great at it. Since the rule changes in 2006, they've drafted 2 good linemen from the first three rounds; both interior linemen. I'm not counting Jeff Otah.  So where are you now? Well, Turner is a good player. Center and LT are coming off season ending injuries from 2018. RT played LT the year before. There's a guard whos last name is so on the nose it makes me think the simulation has glitched. An offensive line like this doesn't just happen overnight. It's the result of ignoring the position for years through the draft and hoping late round reaches develop. Instead of resigning your best players, because they don't exist, you take fliers on veterans and hope you can patch something together (2015). Instead of having dominant players at the position, you're forced to scheme your way out of inefficiencies using your QB to throw their defense off.  Instead of spreading out your picks and free agency priorities across both sides of the ball, you invest everything in a defense that never get a break, or are forced to play perfect if you want to win. Panthers could have a defensive lineup with 8 first rounders. Doesn't matter how good your linebackers or defensive line are halfway through the third; tired players are all the same.  In conclusion, the panthers aversion to investing early draft capital into the offensive line began after 2008, and has persisted to today. Instead of planning for the future, they chose to ride on the backs of Gross/Wharton, then Kalil, as long as they could. Instead of drafting to get ready for their inevitable retirements, they've turned to journeymen, players with injury concerns, or players out of position. This strategy has spanned across head coaches, general managers, and now owners.  Panthers use the same scouting service that many teams in the league do, but at the end of the day the coach and the gm pull the trigger. Whomever the next coach and GM are, they need to understand what the NFL is now, and invest their draft capital appropriately. There is no such thing as too many good offensive linemen. This is no longer a position where you simply make do. 
    • Word was we were actually going to use our first round pick on Greg Little but didn't because Brian Burns dropped to that spot. A lot of us weren't even fans of Little as a second round pick. I can only imagine how up in arms people would be if he had been taken at #16 and Burns had gone to somebody else.
    • I wonder if Greg Olsen or CMC expresses himself in the same way if you would have a problem with it? Embarrassing. 
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