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In the 2012 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers Select...

Jared Crick, Defensive tackle, Nebraska.  No, I didn’t travel through time in Doctor Emmitt Brown’s DeLorean.  And I’m not Miss Cleo.  Frankly, I don’t have a clue what the future holds!  However, there are a couple of things that I foresee happening in 2012.

The first is that ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ will be a letdown.

The second is that Jared Crick is going to be the ‘Tyson Alualu’ of the 2012 NFL Draft.

The third is that Jared Crick is going to be the Carolina Panthers draft selection.

Jared-crick_medium

via newnfldraft.com

Let me explain a little more…

First things first, little can beat ‘The Dark Knight.’  Let’s be honest here Maggie Gyllenhall is disgusting and never should have been in the conversation for playing the part of ‘Rachel.’ However, Heath Ledger’s performance was chilling, legendary, and put Jack Nicholson’s Joker to shame.  Yes, I’m sure Tom Hardy might be a good villain.  And I’m very excited to see a Batman taped in Pittsburgh (especially being that there’ll be some football in the movie!).  However, little can follow the now departed Heath Ledger’s performance.  So, I just can’t see the next Batman being as good as the last.  But that’s just me!

Now back to football…

Few Draft Experts saw Tyson Alualu going as early as he did in the 2010 NFL Draft.  Heck, many thought that it was a foregone conclusion that he was a second round pick.  But not this sharp fellow!  In a two round mock draft in April 2010, I predicted that Alualu would go in the teens.  And voila, it happened!  Now, I’m not saying that I’m a genius.  Now that it’s long gone, I can say that the SAT was a very humbling experience (to say the least).  And  I’m pretty sure the movie about ‘Baby Geniuses’ wasn’t about me.  However, I foresee a situation in which something very similar happens in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Here’s what I see.  Right now, most experts on the draft expect Jared Crick to be a late 1st round pick.  Some even have him sliding to the second.  However most have him going somewhere between picks 25-32.  I don’t think so.  He’s going a lot earlier than that.  In my opinion, he likely is going to be the Tyson Alualu of this next draft and go much earlier than the experts say.

Why do I think so? Well, I think he’s being undervalued as Alualu was.  Like Alualu, Crick is being written off primarily as a 34 Defensive End.  As a 43 Defensive Tackle, which he currently plays at Nebraska, the experts say he's not fit for.  But alas, they said the same thing about Alualu!  Now, that’s not the crux of my argument here, but it goes to show that sometimes the experts can color players in certain shades.  And they can often be wrong when they do it.  Just like how most of them colored Cam Newton as fake, phony, and most of all a bust!

What I see in Jared Crick is a very talented skill set, containing tangibles (like stature and frame) that few have and intangibles (such as work ethic) that make him an even better prospect.  Altogether, I think that it will spell him a draft pick earlier than the experts say.  Specifically I’m guessing he’ll land somewhere between picks 5-15. 

Here’s what’s so great about Crick: he reminds me a little bit of a Pro Bowl Player named Richard Seymour.  Like Seymour, Crick towers over others at 6-6 and has a bulky frame.  Very few football players have that freak stature.  And like Seymour, his burst and innate ability to penetrate into the backfield separate him from others.   Very few Defensive Tackles have the ability to penetrate the pocket consistently like he can.  Did I mention that he has 9.5 sacks, at least 70 total tackles, and at least 15 TFL in each of the past two seasons?

4c7278c83ede5

via bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com 

(Just look at the sheer size of this guy!)

Beyond that, Crick’s best intangible and characteristic is his relentlessness.  Like Liam Neeson in the movie ‘Taken,’ he simply won’t stop, he keeps coming no matter what is in his way.  The opposing team’s QB knows that he’s coming on every play.   Even if he gets held up at the line or is on the other side of the field, he just keeps coming to the QB.  And many times it pays off big, like his hit on Washington’s Keith Price.  He’s plain and simply a hustler with a non-stop motor who doesn’t quit, but keeps fighting on every down throughout the game.

Jared Crick welcomes Keith Price to Linclon (via Offspring2099)

Additionally, Crick’s play at the line and against the run is very stout.  Only infrequently does a RB get by Crick and his lanes.  More often than not, Crick holds his position and collapses the lane, or detaches and sheds the block to stop the RB for any gain.

Now, I’m not going to build him up like he is perfect, because like every person or prospect, he’s not.  He plays with only decent leverage, and it could definitely be improved.  Also, he can get caught up in double teams and sometimes spends too much time shedding the blocker.  Although he’s very strong, the bull-rush isn’t his specialty.  Moreover, he could add some more pass rushing and block shedding moves/techniques.  Altogether though, warts and all, Crick’s talents at attacking the offensive line are worthy of an early-mid selection in the first round.

Jared Crick NFL Draft Analysis - 2010 Season (via TMBDraft)

Now, that gives you an idea of what he is as a player and why he is so special, but here’s specifically why he’ll go earlier than expected:  Crick is written off as a 34 DE.  Now, I believe that’s wrong to write him off as such.  These very same experts said the very same about Tyson Alualu, and now he is excelling in the 43 as a UT.  They cry that Crick is too small to play the 43 DT role.  However may I remind you that he’s 6-6 and 285 with room to bulk.  I have a hard time seeing as to how he is undersized.   It is also possible that his stats at the end of this year might not measure up to the past two years, because he’s getting double teamed every play and having to play around a very new and raw supporting cast.  At the end of the year, the experts will likely lower his draft stock because of this, again undervaluing him.

Additionally, I personally think experts are undervaluing the value of pass rushers in the game and in the draft right now.  The game has changed to a QB driven league, and the best counter to this are guys who can get after the QB.  Last year alone, 11 defensive lineman and pass rushers were drafted in the first round.  What’s more is that JJ Watt, a player very similar to Crick in size and skills, was drafted 11th overall in 2011.  So, if the experts are valuing him as a late 1st rounder, I personally think they are undervaluing Crick, which is thus why I think Crick will go earlier in the draft than most experts say.  Like Watt, I believe he will fall between picks 5-15.

Now, why do I think the Panthers will pick him?  Well, a few reasons.

Firstly, with Cam at the helm, our offense is once again potent, very potent!  Currently, our offense is ranked 2nd best in the NFL, at least in yards per game.  And with Cam distributing the ball so well, our passing attack has been potent enough that I’m not sure that we need to spend the first pick on a WR.  Actually, Brandon LaFell looks to be stepping up, and let’s not forget Armanti Edwards is still developing nicely and David Gettis will come back from injury. So, I’m not so sure that the first pick necessarily has to be offense or WR.

Now, it would be logical to spend the first pick on an O Lineman, being that Otah can’t stay healthy and that we have yet to find an answer at RG.  The problem with there is that we will probably be out of the reach of Matt Kalil (who’ll likely be top 3-5) and others such as Kelechi Osemele might not be of good value here.

Looking at our team, I think it’s pretty obvious where our biggest weakness on the team is, and that’s at Defensive Tackle.  Rookie  Terrell McClain hasn't fared well so far as the starting UT.  He has 1 tackle to his credit, and has been a pushover.  Rookie Sione Fua hasn't been so hot himself.  Together the two have 4 measly tackles as of 2 game and our run D has been one of the worst in the NFL, making Beanie Wells and James Starks look like Pro Bowlers .  So, I think it goes without saying that we need to get a stud in the middle of our D Line more than anything.

With the 1st pick last year, the Panthers could have whomever they desired.  However, the Panthers will likely be choosing somewhere between picks 5-15 because they will likely win 5-7 games.  So a lot will come down to who is available, who’s the Best Player Available, and value.  Like I said, Matt Kalil most likely will be gone by our pick and Crick will likely be available when the Cats take the podium.  Like I’ve pointed out earlier, I think Crick will be worthy of a selection (and will ultimately be picked) between 5-15.  So, he’ll likely be available and good value when we come to choose.

Now, specifically I think we need to pick him and we will pick him because I think he is a player that can transform our D, just like Cam has almost single handedly transformed our O.  His ability to penetrate the pocket, collapse running lanes, and disrupt and wreak havoc along the line is something sorely needed on our D.  Ultimately, it would likely elevate the games of everyone around him.  It would take a lot of pressure off of stud Charles Johnson, free Beason to fly around and make plays, and give Gamble and the secondary less time to cover receivers.  Moreover, we need a guy of his stature in the middle.  Right now, our starting Defensive Tackles are both 6-2.  Adding a 6-6 Defensive Tackle to attack the opposing offense beside a 6-4 Greg Hardy and the stocky Charles Johnson gives us a lot more beef along the line.  Just like Cam was to our offense, I think Crick is the missing piece to our defense that we need in order to take it to the next level.

Finally, I think that, while he is criticized by some as being undersized, he is perfectly fit for our style.  In my opinion, our defense, and our team relies more so on speed than power.  And having a quicker, penetrating DT like Crick fits us better than merely having some heavy cloggers in the middle because we want to attack and get in the opposing team’s backfield, whether they are running it or passing it.

Therefore, I think the Carolina Panthers will select Jared Crick in the 2012 NFL Draft.  He will be available.  He will be a good value.  He will fill the biggest need on our team and make the biggest impact.  And his penetrating skills and attacking, relentless style perfectly fit this team.

I guess we’ll all find out come April, when the NFL Draft takes place, and in the summer, when Batman comes out.  Well, that’s my best guess as to who the Panthers will choose and how the new Batman flick will be.  Let's hope for a good 2012!  Go Panthers!

-JKP1516

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