This runs counter to most of the Panthers draft spin, and fans post, but don't expect to get a lot of help from the 2 3rd round DT picks this year.
DT Terrell McClain (6-1 5/8, 297, 10 1/4 inch hands, 32 3/4 inch armsa Pro Day 4.82-40, 1.71-10, 29 bench reps, 28 inch vertical jump, 8-8 broad jump, 7.48 3-cone drill, and 4.56 20 yard shuttle) of UCF. His Combine workout numbers are only average, and his 40 needs an explaination. He got a rare break in his "offical" Combine 40 time at a 5.00-40, because his unoffical 40 times were both higher at 5.02 and 5.04, then his Pro Day 40 times had a wide spread of 4.82 and 4.96, many scouts throw out a players fastest and slowest times.
McClain had the 2nd lowest tackle total in 2010 of the 20 DT drafted this year with only 24 tackles (that's not counting The Bills #245 NT Michael Jasper who played only O-Line his last 2 seasons). In 13 starts last season McClain had 24 tackles, 4.5 TFL's, and 3 sacks in 2010. In his career, McClain played in 49 games, with 33 starts, and posted 89 tackles, 17 TFL's, and 7.5 sacks. It's troubling that McClain's production peaked in his soph. more season, with 32 tackles, 3 TFL's, and 3 sacks, in 12 games with 9 starts. McClain's production decreased in each of his next seasons, with 25 (in 13 games with 11 starts in 2009) and 24 (2010) tackles. In addition to having the 2nd lowest tackle total (24) in 2010 of all players drafted, his career tackle total is 5 tackles less than the 2010 total of 94 tackles by NT Kenrick Ellis, the #94 pick of the Jets.
Here are some comments about Terrell McClain:
"Football Draft Guide 2011" - "McClain has some raw talent. He has a powerful lower body and flashes the quickness to shoot the gap. He was a maddeningly inconsistent underacchiever at the collegiate level, giving inconsistent effort and at times slow to react."
"Pro Football Weekly Draft 2011" - "Downside: Carries too much bad weight. Struggles to locate the ball. Inconsistant plays when he wants to. Questionable mental and physical toughness, competitiveness."
McClain played very well in the East-Wast Shrine Game, but DT Martin Parker of Richmond won the Defensive MVP
and he wasn't even drafted. In MHO McClain was drafted a round early.
NT Sione Fua (6-1 1/8, 308, 32 1/8 inch arms, 5.28-40, 1.77-10, 30 bench reps, 24 inch vertical jump, 8-5 broad jump, 7.54 3-cone drill, and a 4.54 20 yard shuttle) of Stanford. His speed is slow, and his bench reps are good, with the rest of his workout numbers below average.
Fua had the fewest takles in 2010 of any player drafted this year, with only 23 tackles. Fua only played 3 years in college, posting tackle season totals of 17, 24, and 23, in 38 total games, for a career total of 64 tackles. To put his tackle total in perspective, fellow Pac !0 DT Jurrell Casey of USC had 67 tackles in 2010 (in 13 starts), 3 more than Fua's career total.
Here are some pre-draft comments about Fua:
"Pro Football Draft Guide 2011" - "Fua is an undersized two-gap tackle who gives outatanding effort and should appeal as a developmental prospect to 3-4 teams. He'll need to add bulk to make an impact on the next level, but should at least provide quality depth. He doesn't have the quickness to play three-technique."
"Pro Football Weekly Draft Guide 2011" - "Lacks ideal height, but flashes hand strength and is functional as a one-gap run defender. Smart, tough, coachable player with adequate athletic ability and instincts. Developmental prospect."
"Sporting News Draft Guide 2011" - "Is a stiff and limited athlete who lacks the foot quickness and speed to chase down plays in pursuit along the line of scrimmage. Gets cut to the ground too easily. Does not have the quickness or burst to make plays when he has to move to get to the ballcarrier. Lacks the long arms and ideal bulk to consistently hold his ground against NFL double-teams. Five yearas ago, a player like Fua likely would not have been drafted, as strong defensive tackles who can't shead blocks and make plays had less value in a 4-3 scheme. However, with half of the teams in the NFL no playing 3-4 schemes, his value has increased. But Fua will still likely be nothing more than a backup."
In short, Fua plays and moves like a 330 pound NT, but is undersized by around 20 pounds, at 308. By the time the Panthers #97 pick came around all the big NT's (except Jerrell Powe #199 by the Chiefs) were gone, so they reached a round or 2 early for Fua. Actually, Fua is virtual equal of the Redskins #253 pick (next to last) NT Chris Neild of West Virginia, and Notre Dame's undrafted DT/NT Ian Whilliams, here are their numbers:
Chris Neild (6-1 3/4, 319, 31 7/8 inch arms, 5.12-40, 1.73-10, 30 bench reps, 29 inch vertical jump, 8-10 broad jump, 7.58 3-cone drill, and 4.46 20 yard shuttle) of West Virginia was 1st team All Big East the laast 2 years, has more tackles than Fua, was better than Fua in all but 1 Combine workout event (5/100's of a second slower in the 3-cone drill), and though slower he did better than McClain in all but 3-cone drill.
Ian Williams (6-1 1/4, 319, 9 3/4 inch hands, 32 inch arms, 5.25-40, a Pro Day 5.14-40, 1.77-10, 31 bench reps, 28 1/2 inch vertical jump, 8-2 broad jump, and a 4.78 20 yard shuttle) of Notre Dame. Williams had 162 tackles, but his tackle total declined all 4 years (45 - 40 - 39 - 38), though his lowest total was still 14 tackle more than Fua's best season..
Historical Lack of Rookie D-Line Productiobn
Len Pasquarelli wrote a very interesting article a week or 2 ago for nfldraftscout.com about the 2010 rookie DT's production last season, and it was very surprising. Of the 8 DT's drafted (not counting Lamarr Houston, because he only played DE for the Raiders) in the 2nd and 3rd round (only 3 were drafted in the 3rd round, so that's a small sample), 3 of the 8 DT's (38%) missed almost the full season with injuries, and they only averaged 15 tackles each for the season. McClain and Fua may get a good amount of playing time simply because the Panthers have no one else, but that advantage is off set by the better quality of the 2010 draft class.
The Panthers might have been better served by drafting a DT/DE to protect against the possible loss of DE Charles Johnson. They could have drafted Miami's Allen Bailey (6-3, 285, 4.77-40, 1.67-10) at #65, or Christian Ballard (6-3 3/4, 283, 4.70-,40, 1.65-10) at #97 or #98. It might have been best for Cam Newton if the Panthers had drafted WR Leonard Hankerson (6-1 1/2, 209, 10 5/8 inch hands, 33 inch arms, 4.43-40, 1.51-10), who's like a young TO. He has good hands, is very strong, isn't afraid to go over the middle, and this quote (from "Pro Football Guide 2011") "He also shows good body control and the ability to catch a badly thrown ball" which could mean he would be a very good security blanket for Cam Newton.