If you have a proclivity to write off everything this time of year as 'smokescreen' then you didn't really have much to gain listening to Marty Hurney sit down with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. However, if you prescribe to the notion that the Carolina Panthers have been more open since the coaching change last season you'll be curious to fill in some of the details regarding the organization's draft plans.
Need vs. BPA
Every team struggles with this argument every year, and typically the Panthers have been an organization who play pure BPA cards. However, Hurney gave us a better insight on how this process works inside the war room, and how they reconcile the need v. BPA issue:
"Our philosophy in the first round, our philosophy in all rounds [is that when there are] 2-3 players who are close or even, that's when need comes into play. If there is a large gap we look at the best player available."
This is where we need to delve into the needs of the team further. If I had to hazard a guess how the organization sees their need priorities I believe it would be thus:
"Biggest thing you go into the first round saying is 'you don't want to miss'. I think the quote 'safe player', the one you feel the most sure about being able to come in and be able to contribute to your team."
To me, this is the most telling part of the entire interview, and we'll wait to see if it bears fruit. Based on players slated to go in the top fifteen I think there are scant few 'safe players' available. Everyone will have their own idea of what this means, but to me the 'safe players' are:
- Matt Kalil
- Morris Claiborne
- Justin Blackmon
- Fletcher Cox
- Luke Kuechly
- David DeCastro
These are all players without character or motor issues, all of whom easily slide in to the scheme the Panthers run, who can contribute out of the gate. Obviously Kalil and Claiborne are pie-in-the-sky players, but they're safe nonetheless. Even though WR isn't a glaring need, Marty didn't write off the idea.
"We are definitely looking at the draft [for a WR]. If you're there in the draft and the receiver is above everyone else, you look at that."
Many would agree that if Blackmon falls to no.9 he slates himself in as the BPA, and Hurney did not preclude selecting him.
Finally, Hurney gave us the blueprint for the defensive positions the Panthers are looking at "cornerback, linebacker, defensive line", the obvious omission here is safety- so if that holds true it appears Carolina wont be looking for a safety early, instead opting to see how the incumbents and free agents shake out.