There is an understandable desire among Panthers loyalists to narrow the focus at the top of the draft exclusively to players who can step right in and help the defensive rotation.
I get it. I agree the Panthers defense is the weakness of the team right now, and must be addressed on draft night(s), I hate the suspense of the new format.
At the same time, I feel like the Panthers scouts probably aren't AS limited in their approach as we might like them to be and we may thank them later. With that in mind, I've decided to share three candidates for our second pick that may seem like dark horses to us here on CSR. Should either one of these three guys remain available the second time we send an envelope to the podium, however, I wouldn't be surprised if it contains their name.
Georgia TE Orson Charles, Virginia Tech RB David Wilson and Arizona State QB Brock Osweiler are all players who would be on our second round radar in the Carolinas if we didn't have such strong visions of pass rushers and lockdown corners dancing in our heads - and rightfully so!
Still, these talents are worth giving a once-over in the draft conversation. More after the jump...
#1 - Georgia TE Orson Charles, a 6'3" 220-pound underclassman
I liked what I read one scout say about Charles, "He plays offense with a defensive mentality." That kind of tells you what I like about Charles right there. In my book, he's the best tight end in the draft, and I see him as a speedy guy who gets outside, takes on a hit, then breaks a tackle or gets forced out of bounds, jumps up and gorilla presses an offensive tackle to celebrate.
Yup, I think he's the next Vernon Davis - that is, after the NFL trainers get to him and make him pump like he's in prison he will be. Sure, we've got Greg Olsen, but that ain't a bad thing to have either. We also don't know what the future holds for Charlotte's love affair with Jeremy Shockey. (I've seen him get serious with other cities in our conference in the past.)
Charles could do this for us immediately. All he has to do is get off the line of scrimmage and Cam'll spot this big body between the hashes:
All year long, I watched Georgia with a special eye on Charles on offense and LB Jarvis Jones and CB Brandon Boykin on defense (and special teams in the latter case). Boykin isn't a bad option to look at here or later, either. Charles is just a freak, though. You can't deny it if you watch him play. I read knocks on his blocking, but I ain't seen it.
#2 - Virginia Tech RB David Wilson, a 5'10" 205-pound underclassman
Coach Rivera went public with his desire to find a "Sproles-like" scatback/return man for the Panthers before the season finale. That only makes sense since he was on the coaching staff that made the NFL's most diminuitive weapon the NFL's most dynamic weapon today. With a slightly bulkier build and the same explosive lower body strength, we could be looking at our Sproles 2.0 right here.
He plays with the same type of speed/balance package that will most likely translate into deadliness in the open field at the next level. He also has the same type of vision to find creases - and burners to just keep accelerating for 20 or 30 yards. It's sick. Think C.J. Spiller. Special teamers better take a good angle if he's returning punts for us next year, I promise. During his junior year he also showed reliability as a check-down receiver even if he wasn't a true down-the-field threat in the passing game. WIth 1,700 yards on the ground at a 5.9 clip per carry - you can only imagine how much his value in the playaction game prevented him from going out on routes.
Almost everyone I've read is anticipating a sub-4.4 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine, with some even mentioning him in contention to have the fastest time at the event. Ask Georgia Tech's 2010 kickoff coverage about chasing him. (Note the update on "Scam Newton" McCarthy-Era Inquiry at bottom of screen, haha. Cleared on all charges.)
I've got a first cousin who graduated from Virginia Tech, so I've naturally watched a lot of Hokie football. One thing they're good at is special teams. Another is producing quality running backs. It bears mentioning, however, that Wilson is not Ryan Williams, or you're traditional BeamerBall bruising back. His speed and vision in the open field make him more likable to, say, Reggie Bush than Williams. As I noted, he may not be 180 pounds, but he's an All-World level track athlete. Oh yeah, but he can go through you too.
This guy is a great talent and could be the third back off the board behind Richardson and Miami's Lamar Miller, easily. The knock on him will most likely be that he doesn't have the physique to be a "feature back." All the better as our change of pace and on the field for special teams, right? He could also wow with his speed and jump up boards. We'll see. Inserting him into the mix with Newton and Double Trouble would truly be an embarrassment of riches, but hey: Coach asked for it.
At least we could call our backfield "The Four Horsemen." WOOO!!!
#3 -Arizona State University QB Brock Osweiler, a 6'8" 240-pound underclassman
It's hard to imagine a quarterback with such perceived upside falling to us here; but, then, is it really for fans of the franchise that saw Jimmy Clausen fall from neck-and-neck with Sam Bradford from the first pick to our less-than-enthused arms in the mid-second round just two years ago? Being Quarterback is all about the gusto. It's a "Romo-Coaster" where love and hate meld into one blur of whirring colors, especially on draft day. Osweiler's potential to contribute as a NFL quarterback doesn't seem to be in question, though, and we're pretty good at bringing along that type of player as of late. Honestly, I don't know enough to say "Yea" or "Nay" about Osweiler, but I know he brings tremendous size and athleticism to the table. Sound familiar, anyone?
I encountered Osweiler the first game of the year, when I tuned in to see LB Vontaze Burfict. As soon as the strapping quarterback stepped on the field, I physically reacted to his impressive stature. He's also got some of the same traits as Cam, in the sense of his big arm and willingness to run - I gave you a sample of his read option. He spread it all around the field when I watched him, though I didn't have to check his stats to know he wasn't as efficient as Cam was at Auburn. Similiarly, however, Osweiler is a one-year starter in the NCAA who comes into the NFL as an intriguing - even awe-inspiring - physical freak.
Here's what he looks like passing the ball:
Let's say he does fall to us, this could be a lot like New England snatching up Ryan Mallet while the getting was good last year. Mallet is another player reminiscent of Osweiler for his size and rocket, but he was not nearly as mobile or fluid in his footwork as Osweiler coming out of Arkansas. I thought I saw something in Mallet, though, and am willing to wager he has some success when-and-if Belichek hands him the keys.
It's great value where we're picking if he does turn out to be great. It's a way to part ways with Anderson and Clausen AND add a big-bodied, live-armed, athletic, "natural passer" behind Cam, just in case. I mean, we'd have two quarterbacks who could legitimately play skill positions if they weren't so darned good throwing the ball. Can't miss in both cases. Perhaps we could package him for later picks. Who knows? If he's as good as some think he is, he doesn't belong on the board after we pick in the second round, though.
I almost wanted to throw Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd into this mix since I haven't really seen anyone ponder what he could do with us, but decided the conversation about a #2 WR has been quite extensive and that's not the point I was trying to drive home. I guess what I'm trying to say is keeping an open-mind is how you land those special players that last for a decade and get enshrined. If our guys see that in one of these offensive standouts - or for that matter someone really cool I've never even heard of - I'm all for them pulling the trigger on it. That, and these are all positions of need if we're being honest with ourselves.
Also, it's pretty cool to imagine SuperCam having a Charles or Wilson to deploy in the attack.
The importance of a capable backup quarterback, or even one with potential, also can't be understated in this brave new world of "concussion-like" symptoms and NFL medical officers patrolling the sideline. What could it hurt to have an awesome insurance policy for our super-awesome franchise quarterback?
Furthermore, Cam is gonna blow a lot of teams out in the next couple of years, and it'd be nice to have something to look forward to in garbage time. If our guys see the next "Big Ben" sitting there, who knows what ransom we could demand of the NFL, or what bounty might befall us, at some point in the not-too-distant future.