I say take Reiff...

While PT is busy yapping about why the Panthers should desperately trade up for Morris Claiborne, I'm going to try to give you a fresh look at another point of view by highlighting another prospect. (Side note: PantherTrain, I apologize, this article was not meant to bash your article, it was simply a great jumping off point for mine.)

In PT 's most recent waffling, entitled We Need to Trade Up for Morris Claiborne, PT outlined a desperate approach towards the 2012 draft. In his point of view, it is apparent that he thinks that there will not be any good prospects when the Panthers select in late April (which will likely be around picks 9-13). He sees Morris Claiborne and other elite prospects gone by the Panthers selection. His answer then, is to panic and mortgage our second round selection to trade up for Morris Claiborne.

PT suggests this, partly because he's following a ‘need' based strategy towards the draft. After all, PantherTrain is exclaiming that we NEED to trade up for Morris Claiborne. If we are following a need based strategy, then yes CB would be our biggest need and we would try to select one. However, I disagree with the ‘need' based strategy. In my mind, it makes much more sense to simply try to take the absolute BEST football player we can get. I really can't envision how getting the best football player available would hurt you, which is why I espouse the ‘best player available' strategy.

My answer to the dilemma of our draft position is simply to stand pat and select a player where we stand. In the BPA approach, since we don't handcuff ourselves to ranked needs over everything else, we have flexibility in drafting. This allows us to look beyond immediately pressing needs, and look at the fantastic players that will be available when we should take the podium in late April.

Unlike PantherTrain, I firmly believe that there will be very promising players available whenever the Panthers should select. Riley Reiff is certainly one of those players who is remarkably talented and will likely be available in the range in which we will be selecting. Although I'm not conclusively advocating that we draft him as of this moment, I simply want to use him as an example that there are very talented players available when we select.



Instead of trading up to satisfy a need in taking Morris Claiborne, sitting back and taking Reiff makes more sense to me. It's sensible because we get great value out of it. We would get to keep our second round pick, and select a great player that narrowly slipped out of the first round. Perhaps a player like Brandon Thompson, Jerel Worthy, Josh Chapman, Jared Crick or another talent who might be available then. And most importantly, we get fantastic value out of selecting a player like Reiff.

Although he hasn't been highly touted, make no mistake Riley Reiff is an incredible player. Iowa, Wisconsin, and Alabama have been machines at churning out top OL prospects, and Reiff is the latest talent. Yes, Matt Kalil is the closest thing to the prototype of the LT position, however Reiff isn't far behind him. There seems to be a rift between Kalil and the rest of the OT class, however I consider Reiff above the rest and surprisingly not far behind Kalil. In my opinion, it goes Kalil, Reiff just a step behind, Martin, then all others grouped together.

Take a look at Reiff, and you'll see what I mean. He's a very athletic LT who has dominated the college scene. Standing 6'6" and a bulky looking 300, Reiff's size is a great advantage. He has very long arms which he are very useful in keeping the DE at bay. Although this is seemingly trivial, it is a great advantage. Unlike many OTs who let the DE's get too close to their body, Reiff's arms don't allow the DE to get close to him or enable the DE to lock on to him and direct him, or allow the DE to get close and quickly move around the OT. Instead, Reiff can use his long arms to lock on to the DE and direct him like a puppet. At times, Reiff can simply one arm the DE, keeping him far out in front of him. Like Kalil, Reiff thus naturally is built to play LT.

Although Reiff looks bulky, he moves his feet surprisingly well. There aren't really any kinks in his kick-slides, and it looks very natural. Mirroring the DE, Reiff almost never gets twisted or out of position. Just as it should be, Reiff's back is always faced squarely to the QB and his chest in squarely in front of the DE. Reiff's footwork is certainly second to none and he's very polished in his technique.

Pass blocking is surely Reiff's forte, however he is no chump in run-blocking. Although he is very much a finesse player, he's very powerful and it's actually not unusual to see Reiff pancake the DE many times in the game. From head to toe, Reiff is strongly built and it shows in the running game. He quickly locks onto the DE and moves him outward with his strength.

Riley Reiff NFL Draft Analysis - 2010 Season (via TMBDraft)

Reiff is thus the perfect yin-yang of finesse and power. He may not be the best pulling tackle and could refine his posture slightly to bend more at the knees rather than the waist, however he is a fine prospect that is definitely top 10 worthy, and should be a great value whenever the Panthers should select. He has the athleticism and upside of Nate Solder or Tyron Smith, however he has the polish and readiness that you look for in an LT. He really should be nicknamed ‘Stonewall' because he is just that! He also could very well be a Pro-Bowler in a few years. If you pressured me to make a player comparison, I'd have to say he's actually quite similar to our own Jordan Gross, who was selected eighth.

If the Panthers took Reiff, they'd have a fantastic player, which can play RT or LT. He'd probably start at RT for the first few years before taking over Gross' role as LT. With Gross at LT and Reiff at RT though, it would be a pretty nasty combination. And if the Panthers took Reiff as I outlined, they'd still have their second round selection to use on another early round talent.

No PT, we do not HAVE to trade up for Morris Claiborne. We should stand pat and select a fantastic player like Reiff with our first selection and keep our second selection and take another great player like Brandon Thompson.

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