Will The Recent Play Of The D-Line Alter The Panthers Draft Plans?

I don't like to make snap judgements, based on a small sample size, so I haven't yet altered my ideas on the Panthers 2012 draft needs, but today's game has at least prompted me to re-think my ideas about the Panthers 2012 draft needs.

Prior to today's game I was certain that the Panthers needed a big NT (325+ pounds), and a good pass rushing DT in the 2012 draft (or free agency), but now I must re-think that judgement. Take a look at the D-Lines stats this season (ages are listed as of Sept 1st, 2012), and see what you think.


Sione Fua (6-1, 308, 5.28-40, 1.77-10, age 24, rookie) - 11 games, 11 games started, 9 tackles, 4 solo tackles, 0 sacks, and 0 forced fumbles.

Frank Kearse (6-4, 325, 5.30-40, age 23, rookie) - 5 games, 3 games started, 8 tackles, 6 solo tackles, 0.5 sacks, 0 forced fumbles.

Jason Shirley (6-5, 345, Pro Day 5.02-40, age 26, 2nd season on a roster in 4 years) - 3 games, 0 games started, 4 tackles, 2 solo tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 forced fumbles.


Terrell McClain (6-2, 291, Combine 5.00-40, Pro Day 4.82-40, 1.71-10, age 24, rookie) - 12 games, 12 games started, 19 tackles, 13 solo tackles, 1 sack, 0 forced fumbles.

Andre Neblett (6-0, 295, Pro Day 4.99-40, age 24, 2nd season) - 12 games, 4 games started, 23 tackles, 15 solo tackles, 2.5 sacks, 0 forced fumbles.

Ogemdi Nwagbuo (6-3, 315, 5.09-40, age 26, 4th year) - 3 games, 0 starts, 1 tackle, 1 solo tackle, 0 sacks, 0 forced fumbles.

Ron Edwards (6-3, 315, age 33, 10 years experience) - on IR.


Charles Johnson (6-2, 275, 4.82-40, age 26, 5th season) - 15 games, 15 games started, 41 tackles, 31 solo tackles, 9 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 4 passes defended.

Greg Hardy (6-4, 277, Pro Day 4.79-40, age 24, 2nd season) - 15 games, 15 games started, 46 tackles, 35 solo tackles, 4 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 11 passes defended.


Antwan Applewhite (6-3, 258, 4.73-40, 1.62-10, age 26, 4th season) - 11 games, 0 games started, 23 tackles, 18 solo tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 pass defended. He will be a UFA (Unrestricted Free Agent).

Thomas Keiser (6-3, 261, 4.87-40, age 23, rookie) - 7 games, 0 games started, 11 tackles, all 11 are solo tackles, 4 sacks, 0 forced fumbles, 1 pass defended, 1 interception.

Eric Norwood (6-1, 241, 4.71-40, age 24, 2nd year) - 12 games, 0 starts, 10 tackles, 6 of them solo tackles, o sacks, 0 forced fumbles.

2012 Outlook:

The Panthers will most likely only carry 5 DT's (DT's and NT's) on their 53 man roster, and one of those should also be able to play DE as well, with another able to play both DT and NT. In addition to these 5 DT's, the Panthers will likely only carry 4 DE's on their 53 man roster, and perhaps at least 1 OLB who can also play DE as well. This means the Panthers will still need to add a pass rushing, big (around 280 pounds, or a little larger) DE to back up Johnson and Hardy, and a 4-3 DT that can shift out to DE might be best. This could be the 5th DT, or the 3rd DE, with Kieser as the 4th DE, and the 5th DE being an OLB. In that way they could carry 3 NT's, and 3 DT's, with 3 DE's, with a DE/OLB.

However, picking the 5 DT's is tough. Kearse (he will be allowed on the Practice Squad if needed) shows as much promise at NT as Fua, and how can you not keep Shirley's 345 pound size, along with 2.5 sacks in only 3 games? At DT Neblett seems perhaps more talented than McClain, and those 2 make 5 DT's. However, that leaves out 33 year old, 10 year veteran Ron Edwards, who's on IR this season, but doesn't improve the Panthers inside pass rush. DT/DE Jared Crick (6-4, 285, 4.82-40, with 9.5 sacks in both 2009 and 2010) could fill the Panthers need for a pass rushing DT, and the need for a big backup DE in the draft.

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