I'm sure the following opinion will produce a collective groan across Panther Nation. It is too early to give up on Dwayne Jarret. Would I believe this if he didn't finally show us something in the season finale? I don't know. But here are a few reasons why I feel this way:
Dwayne was 20 years old when we drafted him. He has been slow to develop, sure, but it appears as if the 'light' has finally come on for this young man (he turned 23 in September). If we look at another WR that came in the same year--Sydney Rice--we see that sometimes a change at QB might be all that player needs to flourish.
Sydney Rice's stats since entering the league in 2007:
2008: 15 recs, 141 yards, 4TDs (Gus Ferotte and Tarvaris Jackson)
2009: 83 recs, 1312 yards, 8TDs (Brett Farve)
more after the jump...
Jake and Dwayne appeared to have zero chemistry. Jake did not trust Dwayne. When he is on the 53-man roster, and in uniform on gameday (sometimes), you cannot hide him. Dwayne was never really given any opportunities to make explosive plays...until the final game of the season...with Jake on the sideline might I add.
Assuming Fox will not still hold onto the stubborn assertion that Jake gives us "the best chance to win," and Matt Moore is named the starter, I see no reason not to insert Dwayne as the 3rd receiver, while allowing him to spell Moose and Smitty in our 2 WR sets. I am not of the opinion that Moose is done, clearly. I also like Kenny Moore and Charly Martin as young guys in our bullpen.
Fine, but you might ask what the Panthers biggest need is this off-season?
To me, it is still Defensive Tackle. None of the guys we aquired during the ealy part of the season instilled much confidence in terms of stopping the run. Hollis Thomas is the only exception, but he is clearly in decline, and was on the sideline for more plays than not in 2009. To sum up our situation at DT last year: Nick Hayden was still getting 10-15 snaps a game last year. Sorry Nick.
The fact is that you build a team from the inside out...and on defense--more specifically from the snap-out. We need an air-apparent to Maake at nose-tackle. Someone that large recovering from an achilles is not a 'bird-in-hand' for 2010. The defense was in the bottom 3rd in rush-yards allowed in 2009. If they were in the top 3rd, the overall ranking of the defense would have jumped from 8th to perhaps 2nd or 3rd (based on total yards allowed).
With all that said, who do we target in the draft to fill this need? My best guess based on availability with our 2nd round pick would be Terrance Cody, from Alabama. At 6'4" and 370+ he is the prototypical "plugger." He is ranked 53rd in the top 100 players by Scouts, Inc. Look how dominating Alabama's defense was in 2009. Terrance sat right over the ball and set the tone on every snap he played.
53 (Cody's overall ranking) is right around our pick. If he is taken before this pick, then we fall back to Eric Norwood (ranked 55th overall) from South Carolina. Even at LB, Eric is proven at the point-of-attack as a strong run-defender. If both of these guys are gone, then I digress, you can have your receiver. I just don't know how many balls there are to go around in our ground-attack style. And, have we not drafted several WRs in the second round recently but now sit with little or nothing to show for?
PS...Make note that lineman will always fly off the board early, and you will always have your Marcus Colstons of the world (7th round pick) available late to teams capable of competent college scouting.