Panthers Post-Draft Analysis: What Can We Learn About their Selection Process

As I survey the Panthers draft pick haul I always wonder if there is anyway to better predict who the Panthers are truly interested in. Were there any clues pre-draft that these were the guys the Panthers were targeting or were they simply secret admirers? In past drafts they always seem to pick a guy (or multiple) that I've never heard of yet they always know plenty about the guy without telegraphing it. Or do they? Let's take a look at what was reported from the Pro Days for the schools our picks hail from to see if there was any info that we can then use to predict future draft picks. 

QB Cam Newton was no secret. The Panthers were very obvious about their interest in Cam once the combine rolled around. What about the guys after that?

"They (scouts) want to see if you've been slacking off after the combine, they want to see if you took a break," said McClain following workouts. "I stayed in shape."

Nothing noted about Panther brass being there.

  • At WV's Pro Day it was reported the Panthers had a visit set up with CB Brandon Hogan:

DB Brandon Hogan (5-10 1/2, 190) chose to bypass the pro-day look-see as he continues to nurse the anterior cruciate ligament he injured last season. Hogan had the left knee examined in Indianapolis this week and appears to be in good health. He has scheduled visits with the Giants, Panthers and Cowboys ahead of the April 28-30 NFL draft.

So if the combine and Pro Days are so important how does a guy that does neither get drafted at the top of the 4th round? Simple, game tape. Shows how we as fans can place too much emphasis on these workouts when what GM's really evaluate is game tape. Given is was reported he had a private visit with the Panthers even though he's not recovered from a knee injury says they are interested.

More post-draft analysis...after the jump...

Seventeen players worked out in front of representatives from 30 teams, including Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson and Oakland Raiders head coach Hue Jackson...Two Hawaii wide receivers also excelled:

Kealoha Pilares (5-10 3/8, 201) posted two 40 times of 4.42, had a 40 1/2 inch vertical leap, 10-5 broad jump, 4.11 short shuttle, and 6.85 three-cone drill.

Given its an offensive team you know Chud was there and he saw the next Steve Smith in the making when he saw Pilares run the short shuttle in blazing time. I'm not sure we could have ever seen this one coming. 

  • UConn's Pro Day report indicates 17 teams attended but I see no report of which ones. Here's how LB Lawrence Wilson performed that day:

LB Lawrence Wilson — Wilson (6-0 3/4, 225) posted two 40 times of 4.68, a 9-6 broad jump, and 7.08 in the three-cone drill. A probable fourth-round draft choice, he will be an inside linebacker in a 4-3 defense.

Is that value in the 6th round? Sounds like it. Wilson is the one pure BPA pick in my view if he's pigeon-holed at MLB. We have plenty of depth there so I'm thinking he will be a special teamer for the near future.

Not satisfied with this meager entry I looked further and found more detail:

"They didn’t tell me (the 40 time), but if that’s it (4.55), that’s the best I’ve done," said Wilson, who along with nine of his teammates ran, jumped and performed drills for the scouts at the Shenkman Center. "When I was training, I had actually done (a sub 4.6), so I was a little disappointed with my times at The Combine. I’m not sure of the exact time I ran here, but I’m pretty sure it was better than what I ran at the Combine."

"Well, he should have (created a buzz)," said Dorsey (Packers), who also posed with UConn’s trio of NFL hopefuls at the position he excelled — Wilson, Scott Lutrus and Greg Lloyd. "The guy’s a really good player. The guy’s got great feet, he plays with his eyes, he’s always around the football, and he’s a really a good athlete in terms of making a space tackle."

Dorsey conceded that Wilson may not fit as well in the Packers plans because they play a 3-4 defense, but said he projects as a fine special teams player for anyone.

A 4.55 for a LB is pretty dang quick but I still would have never seem this guy on their radar.

DT Sione Fua measured 6-foot-1, and weighed 310 pounds. He had a vertical leap of 27-inches and broad jump of 8.7 while he stood on the rest of his numbers from the combine. He did participate in positional workouts.
I love this guys size and strength but still had no idea he was on the Panthers radar.
  • OL Zack Williams was way under the radar until his combine. You can see his combine video here, he is quite a large, thick dude who looks like a proto-typical guard. He looks much more athletic than T Lee Ziemba. The Panthers were obviously at Auburn's Pro day so I'm sure that's were they got a good look at him after the combine. 
So can we learn anything from this analysis? Anecdotally I think we can say the Panthers are not going to spend an early pick on a player they have not brought in for a private work out or sent a coach out to conduct one. Maybe that is obvious in this day and time but it didn't used to be that way. Yet with the NFL allowing up to 30 private work outs each team can narrow their preferences on players and finalize their draft board. The problem is that unless the players themselves tell you they have a private work out you'll be hard pressed to find out who the Panthers have scheduled.  The later rounds though will remain a crap shoot. Teams will continue to rely on tape and the combine to finalize their groupings in the last 2 or 3 rounds. 

So in spite of the fact that teams are getting more opportunity to evaluate players, that the internet makes it that much harder to hide what campuses you've been to and who you've met with and that more people appear to have access to locker rooms teams are still able to quite successfully hide who they are interested in. I'm sure it won't stop us from trying again next to predict who they will draft. 

Did we learn anything else about the Panthers selection process from this draft?

 

 

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