Poring through the numerous comments and posts outlining the selection of a DT or a CB in the early goings of the upcoming draft, I came to a realization that we mustn't be so short sighted while viewing the future of the team. After watching the monstrosity that was the Panthers Defense in 2011, many fans have professed the desire of selecting a defensive tackle in the 2012 Draft, a draft without a clear headliner, who has dominated his college competition, capable of bringing an immediate impact to the NFL. The absolute mediocrity that was the Panthers Defensive Line has starved the fan base, and possibly the Front Office of a quality defensive line that bolsters the play of the rest of the defense, thus creating an insatiable desire amongst Panther Fans that the Defensive Tackle position must be addressed in the upcoming draft; even though, by all accounts, the DT class is a weaker than years past. Looking into future, there is bound to be more talent available in the NFL Draft, especially the 2013 Draft.
Sharrif Floyd: 6'3 295 lbs. University of Florida
Sharrif Floyd entered College Football as a Five Star Recruit, and the #1 DT in the Nation in 2009. Insofar, Floyd has lived up to his billing starting as a true freshman at Gainesville. Floyd would finish 2010 with 23 Tackles, and 6.5 TFL's, earning himself a spot on the Freshman All SEC Team. Last season, Floyd continued his romp with 46 Tackles, 6.5 TFL's, 1.5 Sacks, and 1 Blocked Field Goal; recording a career high 11 Tackles against LSU last season. Despite low sack numbers, Floyd exhibits great pass rushing skills, and is very explosive, showing great technique, and adequate power for a 4-3 DT. Floyd is currently seen as a Top 20 Pick.
Kawann Short: 6'3 310 lbs. Purdue
Short has racked up great stats throughout his career. In his first action in 2009 Short accumulated 44 Tackles, 4 TFL's, and 2 INT's (Wow). In his next season, a matured Short had the benefit of playing with Ryan Kerrigan, receiving favorable matchups, and amassing 41 Tackles, 12.5 TFL's, and 4.5 Sacks. Last season, Short took over the gap left by Kerrigan, making 54 Tackles, 17.5 TFL's, and 6.5 Sacks. With the amount of production accrued by Short, Kawann would have secured a first round grade in the 2012 NFL Draft, but has decided to stay at Purdue for his Senior season. Short is a natural pass rusher, and has a knack for disrupting the pocket. With another solid season, Short might move into the top ten of the 2013 Draft.
Johnathon Hankins: 6'3 335 lbs. Ohio State University
Hankins is a load, and looks like a natural fit as a NT in the 4-3 or the 3-4, drawing lofty comparisons by scouts. Receiving his first playing time in 2010, Hankins racked up 16 Tackles, 1.5 TFL's, and 1 Sack. This past season, Hankins received a greater role in the Buckeyes Defense, and amassed 66 Tackles, 10 TFL's, and 2 Sacks. Hankins fits the mold of a run stopping NT, with the perfect size and strength to handle double teams in the NFL. Currently Hankins is rated as a Top Twenty Pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Kwame Geathers: 6'5 350 lbs. University of Georgia
Kwame Geathers is the paragon of a NT. Listed at 6'6 350 lbs, Geathers is unmovable at the point of attack. Swallowing up blockers into his sphere of gravity, and pushing the pocket on pass rushes, Geathers is a perfect fit at NT, either a 3 Technique, or a zero technique. Playing the role of NT in 2010, Geathers rolled up 7 Tackles, and 1.5 TFL's, earning him a spot on the 2010 Freshman All SEC Team. In 2011, Geathers continued on his rampage, making 14 Tackles. Geathers has a great bloodline also, Kwame's brother Robert, and his father Robert Sr. both played in the NFL. Geathers succeeds in pushing ball carriers away from the middle of the field, towards ball hawking Linebackers and Defensive Ends who are ready to tackle the rusher. However, the most awesome stat of Geathers', is that he has been clocked at a 5.3 40 yard dash, unheard of for his size. As of now, Geathers is listed as a First Round Pick.
The 2013 Draft is much stronger at the DT position than the 2012 Draft, and not included in this writeup are the studs who are bound to impress scouts and move up draft boards come next Februrary. Would it be better to take a risk on a Michael Brockers this offseason, a player who only recently moved up draft boards, and who doesn't have the pedigree of his successors in the College Ranks, or stand by for a proven commodity such as Short, Floyd, Hankins, or Geathers? These players will have proven their mettle by the 2013 Draft, and will be much more ready for the NFL, than Brockers. Waiting a season would also give the coaching staff another season to season and coach up our young DT's. Bottom line, with 4+ potential first round pick DT's available next season, it would behoove the Front Office to pass over someone as raw as Michael Brockers, who wasn't viewed as a first round pick until a few weeks ago, and wait until there is a player that more closely fits both need and value.