This is continuation of my post from yesterday, "2011 Is A Critical Rebuilding Year For The Panthers", which leads you through the whole highly condensed process of putting the 2011 Panthers together. This is part 2 of the series, and focuses only on which UDFA's (Undrafted Rookie Free Agents) the Panthers must sign to fill out their 90 man training camp roster. If these players are selected well, then it will broaden and deepen the Panthers depth, and overall player quality. How important depth can be can't be overstated, and no example is better than the 2010-11 Green Bay Packers, who won the Super Bowl though they had 19 players on IR. That means they had at a minimum 80 players total on their regular season roster and practice squad during the year. Teams without depth can't win. it's like the chances of a woman being too beautiful, or a man being too rich. More (and a fan poll) after the jump...
To fill their roster the Panthers will probably need to sign at least 20-25 UDFA's.In the past the Panthers have sometimes given the best of these player bonuses of up to $25,000, and they should do so again. In the past teams have averaged signing around 17 such players, but this year the training camp roster has been expanded to 90 players, so here is my list of the 20 best UDFA's the Panthers should sign (in order of importance), along with their numbers, why I think they should be signed, and the selling points to get them to sign with the Panthers. If I can get it to work, I will post a poll at the end so you can vote on which UDFA signing is most important, and if it works, I'll post polls for the best UDFA's at each position later. So here is my list/ranking of the best UDFA's to sign, at the positions of vital need.
NT Anthony Gary (5-11 3/4, 330, 5.17-40, 39 bench reps) of Southern Miss. He's bigger, stronger, and faster than #97 pick NT Sione Fua. Selling points - Fua is the Panthers only NT, their both rookies, they will both have a equal chance to earn playing time, and the Panthers will probably carry 2 NT's on their roster.
MLB Mario Harvey (5-10 7/8, 257, 4.43-40) of West Virginia. He's the perfect 3-4 LB, he can play 4-3 SLB, and then shift to MLB in a 3-4 defense, He's a very good pass rusher (so good they seldom used him in coverage, but they said he ran like a WR at his Pro day, running a 4.43-40, faster than most WR's. Selling Points - Charlotte is close to West Virginia, both the Panthers starting OLB's are Free Agents, and their top 2 MILB's will be Free Agents next year. So he doesn't just have a chance to make the roster, he could even have a chance to win a starting job.
DT Martin Parker (6-2 1/8, 303, 5.03-40, a Pro Day 4.92-40, 1.71-10) of Richmond. Many rated him almost the equal of the Panthers #65 pick Terrell McClain, and he won the Defensive MVP over McClain at the East-West Shrine game, with 2 sacks. Selling Points - Charlotte is close to Richmond, he can compete with McClain for playing time, and has a great chance to make the roster.
SS Keanemana "Mana" Silva (6-0 3/4, 206, 4.41-40, 23 bench reps, 40 inch vertical) of Hawaii. I believe he has everything it takes to be a good NFL SS or FS. Selling Point - His Hawaii teammate WR Kealoha Pilares is with the Panthers, the Panthers current starting SS will be a UFA next season, and he will have a good chance to win that starting job.
SS Ron Parker (5-11 3/4, 206, 4.34-40, 1.54-10) of Newberry College SC. The Panthers think so much of him, that they tried to hide him, by not reporting his Pro Day results. Selling Points - Charlotte is very close to home, the Panthers like him, and he could have a chance to win the starting SS job next year, as the current starter will be a UFA.
RB Noel Devine (5-7, 179, 4.26-40) of West Virginia. He is a Darren Sproles type RB, wh rushed for 1.289 yards in 2008 (a 6.3 yard average), with 35 catches, 1,465 yard in 2009 (a 6.1 yard average), but slipped to 936 yards in 2010 (a 4.5 yard average) due to minor nagging injuries. Selling Points - Charlotte is close to West Virginia, top RB DeAngelo is a URFA who may not return, and the OC knows just how to use him, having helped make RB Darren Sproles an NFL star.
RB Mario Fannin (5-10 3/8, 231, 4.38-40, 1.51-10) of Auburn. He's a great blocker (can be a backup FB), a great receiver (with 42 catches in 2009), and though he didn't run for a lot of yards at Auburn he had great YPC averages 5.3 - 4.4 - 8.4 - 6.4. He also has experience blocking for Cam Newton as he scrambles. Selling Points - You'll be back with Cam Newton, and if Williams leaves, then a job opens up.
DE/OLB Marc Schiechl (6-2 1/2, 251, 4.65-40, 1.65-10, 33 7/8 inch arms, 38 bench reps, 10-5 broad jump) from the Colorado School of Mines. It's a big jump to the NFL, but stonger that all but (DT's and DE's at the Combine, and he had 46 career sacks. Selling Point - The Panthers leading pass rusher, with 11.5 sacks last season is probably leaving as a Free Agent, and they are desperate to replace those lost sacks. The HC had the #1 pass and rush defense last season, and knows how to make pass rushers successful.
OLB Keith Darbut (6-4 1/8, 229, 4.38-40, a record 1.42-10, 38 inch vertical, 10-6 broad jump) of Division III Baldwin-Wallace College. It's a huge jump from Division III, but he's an athletic freek who should be great on special teams, maybe a future star/. Last season he had 48 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 15 TFL's, and 11 QB hurries. He's a project, who can mostly play on special teams for a year or 2, and then get playing time at OLB by his 2nd or 3rd year. Selling Points - The Panthers can afford to be patient while he develops, will keep him on their Practice Squad if he's not ready, and believe he could become a star if he works very hard.
WR Armon Binns (6-3, 209, 4.53-40, 1.55-10) of Cincinnati. He ha 67 catches in 2009, for a 16.7 yard average with 11 TD's, and 75 catches in 2010, for a 14.7 yard average, with 10 Td's. Selling Points - The Panthers only have 3 good WR's, and the best 1 want's to be traded, so he has a very good chance to make the Panthers roster.
TE Andre Smith (6-4, 270, 4.80-40) of Virginia Tech. He's a great blocker, like having an extra OT, and would be the perfect replacement for Jeff King at half the price. Selling Points - Charlotte is very close to Virginia Tech, the Panthers only have 2 TE's under contract, and both will be UFA's in 2012. So a roster spot is open, and the Panthers don't have a good blocking TE.
DE Pierre Allen (6-4, 273, 4.78-40, 35 inch arms) of Nebraska. He's not a very good pass rusher (3 sacks in 2010), but he's a good against the run. Selling Point - The Panthers need a big run stopping DE, even more so after they cut starter Tyler Brayton, and if Charles Johnson leaves. So he has a chance to make their roster if he works hard.
C Ryan Bartholomew (6-1 1/8, 302, 4.97-40, 1.69-10, 33 3/4 inch arms, 34 bench reps) of Syracuse. He's strong and has great speed, and the Panthers need another Center, just in case Kalil leaves next season. Selling Point - We like you, we need another C and our stating C will be a Free Agent next year.. You can compete with rookie Zach Williams and McKenzie Bernadeau for the backup C job, and if you don't win it, then you can spend the year on the Practice Squad.
MLB Jeff Tarpinian (6-2, 235, 4.56-40, 37 inch vertical) of Iowa. He's the top rated UDFA MLB. Selling Point - Both our MLB's will be UFA's next year.
OLB Adrian Moten ( 6-1 5/8, 234, 4.62-40, a Pro Day 4.55-40, 1.61-10) of Maryland. Selling Point - Both starting OLB's are UFA's.
OT David Mims (6-8 1/4, 331, 5.32-40, 36 7/8 inch arms) of Virginia Union. I rank him ahead of Willie Smith (East Carolina) and Jarriel King (South Carolina) because he is bigger (a better fit for ORT), and Charlotte is his home. Selling Point - Charlotte is your home, and our injury prone starting RT will be a UFA next year,
TE Wesley Saunders (6-5, 270, 4.96-40 while still injured, a projected 4.80-40) of South Carolina. The was ranked as a 2nd or 3rd round pick last year, before he was suspended for the whole year. He had 32 catches in 2010. Selling Points - Charlotte is close to his home and college. The Panthers will be patient with his development, starting him on the PUP list for the first half of the season, until he's fully in shape, and recovered from his injury, The Panthers have no TE's under contract for next season.
FS Deunta Williams (6-2, 205, 4,53-40, 33 1/4 inch arms) of UNC. He was considered a 1st or 2nd round pick at this time a year ago. Selling Point - Charoltte is close to UNC, and a starting Safety will be a Free Agent next year.
WR Terrence Toliver (6-3 1/2, 212, 4.59-40, a Pro Day 4.52-40, 1.56-10) of LSU. He was considered to be from a 1st to 3rd round pick starting last season, but only ha 41 catches in 2010. Selling Point - The Panthers need WR depth.
OT Jerriel King (6-5, 317, 5.09-40, 1.77-10, 36 3/8 inch arms) of South Carolina. He has great potential as a T or G. Selling Points - Charlotte is close to home, and you can develop on the Practice Squad,
That's the list, so cross your finger that the poll works.