Panthers #175 Draft Pick Analysis: DE Greg Hardy

At the combine Greg Hardy recorded a 4.87 on the 40 yard dash, 21 reps on the bench press, 35" vertical jump, and a 9' 9" broad jump. Even right before the draft his possible draft position ranged quite widely, FFToolBox.com claimed just because of his talent he could be a late first round pick but most likely a second round, yet SI gave him only a early seventh round. There have also been comparisons to Mario Williams and Julius Peppers. Hardy is 6' 4" and weighs 281 pounds. Mario Williams is 6' 6" and 295 lbs, Peppers is 6' 7" and 283 lbs. In addition with Meeks working the D, I would be remiss to not bring up Freeney and Mathis stats, 6' 1" at 268 lbs and 6' 2" at 245 lbs and finely to our own Everette Brown at 6'1" and 256 lbs.

Over the last year we have consistently brought up the fact that Meeks did wonders with Freeney and Mathis in Indy and other defensive players, could Hardy be in line for a similar role? 

Upside: B

 

During his early college career he was viewed as a possible first round draft pick.

From Walterfootball.com

5/7/08: Greg Hardy's a lock to go in the first round if he repeats what he did in 2007; Hardy had 10 sacks and 18 tackles for losses, both of which are incredible numbers when you factor that he did this in the SEC. With a great 2008 campaign, Hardy could crack the top 10. 

He has a quick release and good moves off the line and quite the potential early on. In 2007 his sophomore year he recorded 10 sacks and was named All-SEC First Team. Dispite injury his Junior year he had 8.5 sacks and named second team all-SEC. In his senior year before being injured for the season after eight games he had 5 sacks and 6.5 QB hurries.

Reading his draft preview there as a lot of praise for his potential, CBS Sports has a nice summary of his abilities.

Pass rush: Good, not great quickness off the ball, but accelerates quickly and can explode past the tackle off the edge. Very good use of hands to ward off the tackle's block. Slaps away opponents' hands quickly with good hand placement and underrated upper-body strength. Strength shows up with a good bull rush. Can drive the tackle into the quarterback. Has a tendency to get his sacks in bunches and disappear for long stretches.

Run defense: Good lateral agility to beat the tackle outside and force the sweep wide. Good strength and use of leverage to control the tackle. Feels the cut block coming and sprawls effectively to protect his legs and maintain his balance. Good effort and closing speed behind the line of scrimmage. Showed good effort in pursuit downfield in 2007, but struggled in this area in 2008 (possibly due to recurring foot injuries).

Explosion: Good, not great initial burst off the snap. Lacked the burst he had shown in previous years and struggled to redirect in 2008. Flashes explosive hitting ability, especially when given space to gain momentum.

Strength: A vastly underrated component of Hardy's effectiveness as a pass rusher. Good upper-body strength to disengage from the pass blocker. Good strength for the bull rush. Good leverage and leg drive to anchor when necessary.

Tackling: Rangy defender who can break down in space and make the secure tackle. Good strength to make the one-armed drag-down tackle when occupied with a blocker. Inconsistent effort in pursuit downfield in 2008


Downside: D

There is one word that consistently appears when talking about Hardy is durability, or lack their off.

2/28/10: This guy can't stop gaining weight. He was 279 at the Senior Bowl, which was high for him. On Saturday, Greg Hardy weighed in at 6-4, 281. Does he want to play nose tackle or something? 

3/2/10: Greg Hardy ran a hideous 4.87 at the Combine. He can't keep his weight down in the wake of all of his injuries. I don't see how any team drafts him in the first two days. 

If that wasn't enough his productively has been questioned and has been noted that he appears to take plays off, often disappearing for several games. If any of these problem persist at the pro-level he will quickly gain the bust label.

Fit: B-

The Panthers obviously have a need at defensive end and Hardy was drafted to help this area. There is quite a difference in his upside and downside. He could be another Dan Morgan and always have the potential if he's healthy. If he avoid the injury bug and turns into the powerhouse he showcased in his early college career this pick will become a steal. Otherwise I see him fitting nicely into a situational player fitting his draft position.

Life without Julius Peppers beings this season and while Peppers consistent effort was questioned, there is no denying the difference he could be in a game. With Peppers departure, the team does have a need at DE. Yes we have Tyler Brayton, Charles Johnson, Everette Brown, plus Hilee Taylor and Eric Moore but none of them are proven difference makers. I do have confidence in their ability but that ability will be put to the test. Let's hope Hardy fits in nicely and fulfill his potential.

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