(revised title to "might" instead of "will not" after the Goodson trade)
The Carolina Panthers finished with the 7th ranked offense according NFL.com's rankings of yards per game in 2011. We had the 3rd ranked rushing attack at 150.5 yards and were only 15 yds/game from number 1. We had the 28th ranked defense and lost most of our games because of this and special teams play.
That was last year. This year we now have a bigger need; offense.
Footballoustsiders.com (http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/ol) ranked our offensive line as the 5th best line in the NFL for rushing in 2011. Many could make the argument that we had the 3rd best line since their job is to clear room for the running backs and this aspect is largely an offensive line effort. This area of success has now become our biggest area of need. With the departure of Wharton, Schwartz and Mac Bern and the predictable injury prone Otah, the Panthers only return Kalil, Gross and Hangartner. The Panthers also picked up Mike Pollack who was listed as center for the 2-14 Indianapolis Colts.
How do we expect to be as good on offense with this kind of loss of offensive line talent? Sure we have a number of unproven no names that may be able to step in a learn as you go. Mike Pollack might be able to convert over from center and fill one starting spot. Bell showed some promise last year, but clearly we are no where near as strong as we were last year. Cam spent a good portion of his time under pressure last year with a good offensive line. The offensive line is the foundation of every high powered offense. How do you build an offensive powerhouse when you have a weak foundation?
Since we did not fill this gaping hole through Free Agency, the Panthers must have an alternate plan. Luckily there is an outstanding prospect available in the draft.
He as been described as:
CBS Sports: "Tenacious, physical and athletic, he has earned comparisons to some of the greatest guards in recent NFL history." "There's not a scheme in which he wouldn't fit and he would be an upgrade over the majority of current NFL guards. A first-round lock with top-15 talent."
NFL.com: "He could be one of the highest draft picks at the guard position in recent years, and he could easily go in the top 10." "It's nearly impossible to find many weak points in his play throughout college, and he could easily be the best lineman on his team as a rookie."
Bleacherreport: "He is strong, athletic, tenacious and fearless and he has the type of mean-streak to flourish in the NFL trenches." "He is an absolute monster as a run-blocker, as he’s paved the way for some mighty successful rushing attacks over the last two years, and he’s been a favorite butt to run behind throughout 2011"
Walterfootball: "At the NFL Scouting Combine, he was excellent. He had solid times, measurements and excelled in the field work. He was very smooth and fluid in the agility drills while displaying quick feet. He confirmed his high first round grade." "He was a dominant force in 2011. A fabulous run blocker, he shoves defensive linemen around at the line of scrimmage and gets to the second level of the defense to hit blocks on linebackers. He pulls extremely well to hit defenders on the run. He also is an excellent pass blocker." "In limited plays against standout Washington defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu, the best tackle he faced this season, he beat him and opened up holes for the running backs. He also stonewalled a Ta'amu bull rush. He is an elite guard with big potential for the next level."
I give you a consensus All-American two-time all-conference selection, at 6 foot 5, 316 pounds, known as "Double-D" to his teammates and coaches, the 9th pick of the 2012 NFL draft, David DeCastro.