I believe that this article will only appeal to about ¼ of the people who read this. Based on previous polls and articles, I know I am in the minority who believe that the Panthers should draft a player to fortify their o-line. Many believe that the defense should be the priority in the first round. I agree that we need help on defense. However, I would like you to hear me out about why the Panthers should draft David DeCastro.
Let’s first star with age: Although age, by no means, is indicative of success in the NFL, I think it is prudent to look at the average age of each of our position areas. I have excluded RB, TE, WR, QB, K, P because I believe we are mostly on the same page that the Panthers will not target one of these positions with their first pick (with the exception of Justin Blackmon, in which case, I do believe there is a decent amount of readers who would love to pick him as BPA.)Bellow is a list of the projected positional line up for next year, solely based on who is on the current roster. Free agency was not taken in to account in any of these positions:
Jordan Gross 31
Ryan Kalil 26
Average Age: 28
(Please note that Gross and Wharton are getting “older”, Hangartner might not be resigned, Kalil will be with us for some time, and the Otah/Bell piece of the puzzle is just that; puzzling as to the longevity of this position)
Sione Fua 23
Greg Hardy 23
Average Age: 23.5
(Please note, I did not include Ron Edwards (32) into this equation, namely because he is a bit of an unknown quantity to us, and I am not even sure if he will survive salary cap cuts, just because of the age an injury. I think there will be a younger free agent out there at a better price)
Thomas Davis 28
Jon Beason 27
Average Age: 27.7
(Please note: This is our second “oldest” unit, but there are some young guys who showed they can step up if needed.)
Chris Gamble 28
Average Age: 26
(Please note: This is the second youngest and “greenest” of the units. The question here, much like with the DL, is youth or experience more of a need here?)
So there you have it, age wise, the OL is the unit in most need of a youthful piece to the puzzle. That part of the equation is a fact.
Now, as I hinted above, the next part is opinion. In each of our problem areas, what is more important, youth or experience? Considering the Panthers salary cap restrictions, they might not have a lot of choice in the matter.
So, in my opinion, the Defensive Line will be fine next year. Not a lot of people have faith in Fua or McClain, but let’s keep in mind that these guys had no offseason conditioning or training, I think that they will be much improved next season.
The Linebackers are a little thin, but we do have some young talent on the roster, and in my opinion, if we stay where we are in the draft, picking a LB at this point would be a reach.
Now, the secondary, (where most people seem to have their eyes focused), is middle of the line at best. My opinion is that, the weakness is not at CB, but at the safety position. Are we really willing to gamble (no pun intended here) that Dre Kirkpatrick will transition to Safety? Or are we expecting him to become the lockdown corner, relegating Captain to the Nickel? There are too many questions and too much risk for me.
On the other hand, here sits David DeCastro to bolster our aging Offensive Line. I have read in many places, that DeCastro is close to a sure fire safe pick (sorry, no link for this one). Last season, the Panthers offensive line allowed 35 sacks which resulted in a loss of 260 yards.
Ironically, Cam Newton also ranked 15th in the NFL in overall statistics.
Improve the Offensive Line, improve Cam? Scary thought.
So, what are they saying about David DeCastro?:
“His prowess as a blocker on the move is impressive” (With Cam and our option offense, do you not think this is an amazing attribute to have?)
"Pass blocking: Solid pass protector who just doesn't get beat." (Sounds good to me!)
"Run blocking: Excels as a run blocker in power, zone, and when on the move." (Again, mobility is a hug plus, and this kid excels at it)
So, in conclusion, I do agree with many of you that our defense needs help. I just disagree on where that help should come from. In my opinion, come draft day, rather than reach for a project or a hit or miss player, the Panthers should take the “sure thing”, in David DeCastro. Let’s allow him to grow up with Cam, and protect him. Isn’t it common sense to protect your assets?