Releasing three defensive tackles on cut day was a calculated risk. The Carolina Panthers opted to clear house and keep the best 53 they could on the roster, rather than letting a more talented player go over another due to position alone. When the waiver signing of DT Marcus Harrison came through it showed that the team were looking to improve their depth. After all, Harrison is a better player than Nick Hayden, Corvey Irvin and Deljuan Robinson, but in the wake of his failed physical (knee) the Panthers are still left scrambling to patch together their interior DL in the hopes of hobbling through the season.
There is a clearly defined rubric the Panthers have been following this off-season: when they are bringing in these 'stop gap' players they are looking at those who could potentially contribute down the road, over those who really only have enough tread left for one season. That's in part why we're seeing guys like Geoff Hangartner and Max Jean-Giles over Andre Gurode or Brain Waters, and the same can be said for the CB position with Josh Thomas over Lito Sheppard.
More after the jump
Today the Carolina Panthers are bringing in NT Frank Kearse for a workout who played for Alabama A&M and was a 7th round draft pick by the Miami Dolphins. NFL Draft Scout describes Kearse as "a physically gifted pile rusher" who couldn't make the cut in Miami due to a wealth of talent at the position.
Much like the Marcus Harrison claim two days ago it's important to realize that Kearse is A DT, but not the DT the Carolina Panthers will be leaning on in 2011. Harrison was supposed to essentially be Corvey Irvin's replacement, and now Kearse (if signed) will be Harrison's replacement.
As I look through the options for the Carolina Panthers in terms of them finding a true, legitimate, starting defensive tackle, who follows the rubric of still being young enough that he could play 3-4 years if needed, I keep coming back to the same player, 29 year old Igor Olshansky.
Formerly of the Dallas Cowboys, Olshansky played on the defensive line in San Diego under Ron Rivera in 2008. While he has been used exclusively as a 3-4 defensive end throughout his career, the jump from 3-4 end to 4-3 under tackle is a rather small one, and at 6'1", 315lbs he has the ability to play the nose as needed which gives insurance on Sione Fua, should he struggle as a rookie. Under Rivera, Olshanky attacked often from the edge as he registered two sacks on the season, and while that doesn't seem like much it needs to be noted that it's tough to get to the QB from the edge in a 3-4.
Unfortunately the DT dilemma will likely linger for a while longer, but instead of getting players like Pat or Jamal Williams who only have one or two years left at best I think Olshansky could be just what the doctor ordered for the Carolina Panthers. This move would give the team a versitile DL with starting experience who can play both tackles spots as needed, essentially he's the Geoff Hargartner of defense and that alone makes him a good option.