After watching Linebacker upon Linebacker go down last season it has become apparent that the Panthers needed to reinforce the depth in the Linebacking corps. While the Panthers may use an early draft pick on an instant impact player at Outside Linebacker, the Panthers may double dip at the position, sagaciously preparing for the future, and selecting players that fit the mold of an NFL OLB and have the necessary skills to fit in to the Panthers' Defensive Schemes as run by Sean McDermott.
The Guys I have included below are all viewed as UDFA players right now, but all have decent size and speed necessary to compete in the NFL. All of the following prospects attended a BCS School, and racked up decent, if not sublime statistics. In the Panther's Jim Johnson 4-3 The WLB is responsible for covering gaps that the D-Line misses, covering intermediate and short routes, and blitzing intermittently, something these prospects might be able to achieve in the NFL, with the proper coaching.
Emmanuel Lamur: 6'4 225 lbs. 4.56 40 yard dash, Kansas State
Lamur played his college ball at K-State, incurring a lot of playing time at various positions for the Wildcats. In his first action in 2009, Lamur amassed 68 Tackles, 1 TFL, 3 INT's, and 2 Blocked Kicks. The next season, Lamur collected 46 Tackles, 3 TFL's, 2 Sacks, and 1 INT. In his final season in the Big 12, Lamur accrued 83 Tackles, 6 TFL's, 1 INT, 1 Reception for 5 yards, and 1 Kickoff Return for 16 yards. Over the duration of his time at Kansas State, Emmanuel Lamur also saw time sparingly at Safety, before committing to Linebacker full time last season. Displaying solid abilities in coverage, and the ability to make a tackle, Lamur may be a good match for the Panthers.
Eltoro Freeman: 5'11 228 lbs. 4.58 40 yard dash, Auburn
Freeman spent his college career at Auburn (Just like Cam Newton, our QB). In his first season (2009), Eltoro accumulated 31 Tackles, 2 TFL's, and 1 Sack. Next season, Eltoro would make 37 Tackles, 4 TFL's, and 1 Sack, before progressing in 2011 to amass 58 Tackles, 9.5 TFL's, 3 Sacks, and 2 Forced Fumbles. On a side note, Eltoro is Spanish for 'the bull'; moreover, Freeman's size may be of concern, however, he makes up for it with the intensity of his play.
Dwayne Maddox: 6'2 234 lbs. 4.57 40 yard dash, NC State
Dwayne Maddox played 4 years for Coach O'Brien and NC State, racking up solid stats in his career. In his freshman season, Maddox made 28 Tackles, 0.5 TFL's, and 1 Forced Fumble. Next season, Maddox amassed 45 Tackles, 3.5 TFL's, and 1 Sack. The succeeding year, Maddox struggled with injuries, and saw limited playing time, making 15 Tackles, with 1.5 TFL's, and 1 Sack. In his Senior Season, Dwayne Maddox accumulated 46 Tackles, 6.5 TFL's, 0.5 Sacks, and 1 FF. Maddox may not have amassed great stats, but his experience and malleability as a OLB, could make him an appropriate target as a developmental OLB.
Dexter Heyman: 6'3 238 lbs. 4.57 40 yard dash, Louisville
Heyman was a team leader for the Cards, and over his 4 year career in Louisville, he exhibited his raw athleticism and ability as an OLB. As a freshman in 2008, Heyman made 10 Tackles, and 1 TFL in limited action. Next season, Heyman accumulated only 8 Tackles, and 1.5 TFL's, before incurring 48 Tackles, 5 TFL's, and 2.5 TFL's as a junior in 2010. In his last year with the Cards, Heyman made huge strides, gathering 90 Tackles, 16 TFL's, 4.5 Sacks, 3 INT's, and 1 FF. With his sterling stats, Heyman was named to the CBSSports 2011 All Big East Team. Heyman's great athleticism, exceptional work ethic, and good coverage skills, could make him a solid OLB in the NFL.
(Other players that could fit this mold; Demario Davis, Terrell Manning, and Bruce Irvin could also fit this mold.)
These players may not be high on scouts draft boards, but they might possess the skills necessary to compete in the NFL. With the uncertainty surrounding the future of Thomas Davis, the Panthers may be stipulated to pick up a couple of developmental prospects at OLB, in order to develop longstanding depth in the Linebacking Corps, depth that could mature into starters one day.