PFF Draft Grader on Carolina Panthers Has Hits & Misses

Pro Football Focus is doing a series grading each team's recent drafts and recently posted the Panthers grades. Here's the stated criteria for the evaluation in which they bucket the draft picks into 8 groups:

As has become the custom recently, we’re going to look at the draft picks the Panthers made between 2008 and 2010 and give them a grade between +2.0 and -2.0 (in 0.5 increments) that depends upon:

• Where they were drafted
• Their performance
• Their contribution (how many snaps their team got out of them)
• Other factors such as unforeseen injuries and conditions that could not have been accounted for

Executive Summary: They did not rate any Panther draft picks from 2008-2010 in two highest or the two lowest categories, meaning they only used the four middle classifications. I really want to argue with that assessment but I don't find enough solid ground to do that. But I'll point out what I consider gray areas.

I think RB Jonathan Stewart could be put in the +1.5 or even +2.0 categories but he really doesn't have the stats to back it up. If he had been getting 50% more touches while staying healthy, based on his career 5.0 yds per carry average, he would be in one of the top two categories. I've been saying for the past three seasons this guy is a #1 RB who only needs the touches to be considered elite.

More after the jump...

At the other end of the spectrum I'm surprised either DE Everette Brown or PR Armanti Edwards didn't get rated lower. Both could have been put one category lower without quesiton in my view. Maybe the fact that both remain in the league keeps them from falling lower.

I was surprised to see DE Greg Hardy get the highest grade based on 'value'. We've been down on Hardy around here based on some individual stats on him versus the run. Yet its hard ot deny he was a value pick given the starts and production from a 6th round pick. Still, I'm surprised that neither Stewart, T Geoff Sxchwartz or maybe even CB Captain Munnerlyn were not placed in the same +1.0 category.

In the 0.0 'milk toast' category I see three players that could easily emerge from this group and land higher in a similar evaluation next year. I think WRs David Gettis and Brandon LaFell and T Jeff Otah will emerge if they remain healthy for 2012. In fact, I could argue LaFell should already be higher given his ability to make plays on 3rd down and setting the record for the longest pass reception or a TD in Panther history.

My final comment is regarding our two starting safeties being in the -0.5 category. Both of these players have played better than we saw at times in 2011. I'm not sure exactly what happened, maybe they just finally got exposed. Both can do a better job of tackling and Martin seemed to play confused many times last season. Neither can claim the coaching affected them given secondary coach Ron Meeks was one of the coaches retained by Ron Rivera. Since we finally have Rivera's preferred DB coach now in Steve Wilks I can see both these guys turning it around in 2012.

So outside of the two draft day trades that went sour for the Panthers they have done 'okay' in avoiding the stinkers with their early round picks while also nabbing some decent starters but no real gems with their late round picks. So I say let's avoid the trades, stick to our current slots and avoid the draft day sliders and reaches. Follow that board Marty Hurney!

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