It must be a strange time of year for a public face of the Panthers like announcer Mick Mixon. He's not so high up the food chain that people wont ask him questions about the organization, but in being employed by the team he surely has some knowledge of the plans moving forward. Appearing this afternoon on 'The David Glenn Show' (hour three), Mixon offered all sorts of fascinating information on the draft, the mood and the future of the Carolina Panthers.
When asked whether the Panthers had ever selected a player in the first-round without visiting with him first Mixon was emphatic.
"No- that would be professional suicide."
This one statement alone speaks volumes to the Panthers way of operating, and immediately gives us a handful of players we can strike off the list for that first pick; Melvin Ingram, David DeCastro, Riley Reiff, Dre Kirkpatrick. Unless one of them is called in within the next 9 days you can kiss your dreams of seeing them in Carolina goodbye. Conversely, if meeting with a player is so important internally it really sheds light on Marty Hurney's obvious lie last week about the Panthers meeting with Fletcher Cox.
Mixon wasn't just eliminating possibilities, but elucidating on them also.
"I promise you this- if a wide receiver, a personality player, or someone who could help in the return game. If that player was the best player available at the pick the Panthers wont hesitate to pull the trigger in that direction."
Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd, Kendall Wright... come on down.
More after the jump
Getting a little bit of draft info this time of year is like crack to a football fan, but it was the organizational information that absolutely floored me. Talking about the time he's been in Charlotte, Mixon alluded to occasions where the scouting staff have had their picks 'vetoed' by a tenured position coach who didn't like the prospect. Based on what I understand about sound organization structure this is absolutely shocking.
I have heard about GM's or owners removing players from draft boards based on off field issues, and I've heard of scouts and coaches disagreeing regularly. I haven't ever heard a situation where a position coach could completely veto a player based on preference, and this falls squarely on Marty Hurney. Position coaches are responsible for tutelage, not scouting. They get only a short amount of time with prospects in workouts and at the combine, but never review as much tape, or study as in depth as the scouting staff.
Prior assumptions were that scouts had been making bad evaluations, but if they have been hamstrung in the past by coaches it would explain a lot. Furthermore, this would shed light on why the organization have been so great at drafting certain positions (LB, RB, OL) and so average at others (WR). Hopefully this kind of structure is a thing of the past, because I shudder when I think about what kind of players could have been removed from the board due to a 'veto'.
Turning the focus to the current players Mixon discussed three players in particular- Armanti Edwards, Terrell McClain and Sione Fua. On Edwards he was clear about his role, and future with the organization.
"I think he'll be invited to training camp. They're not ready to part ways with him yet. [...] He's got to work hard and come into camp in tip-top shape."
This seems to be a somewhat incongruous statement. If they're not ready to part ways with him, I don't think there would be any doubt needed whether he'll be in training camp. Armanti Edwards will not be cut prior to training camp, but if he hopes to make the 53 this will have to be his Summer to make huge leaps.
Mixon also discussed the rookie DTs from last year, giving us the same line regarding both players running out of gas. He did, however, say that Fua has "The talent to be special" a sentiment that echoed Ryan Kalil's feelings last year. He also said that McClain has "good pass rushing ability". Judging on the players the Panthers have been visiting with, they've definitely been focusing more on penetrating DTs than nose tackles. The only exception to this rule is Dontari Poe, who many scouts don't see as a NT other than his size.
Nine days out. While I'm not sure what the Panthers will do I just can't shake this gut feeling that we will see Fletcher Cox at the #9 pick, and a possible trade up from the second round to get either Kendall Wright or Stephen Hill in the 20's. This draft feels like 2008 all over again.