I just want to start off by saying thank you to all who helped make this possible. Rtb and CAMolina were very helpful when I had an issue come up that I had to step out for and the people who were a part of this were amazing. Everyone did their research, had their materials ready, and helped made this run extremely smooth for something of this size. If one thing came out of this, I think everyone who participated will know the names of whoever we draft this coming week.
Now for the Panthers, I made three trades this draft. One was to move back from 9. I was able to get Philadelphia to bite and in the process was able to pick up an extra 2nd rounder and 4th rounder, at the expense of my 5th. Then during the draft, I started off with a bang and traded Jimmy Clausen for two 6th rounders. I also moved up into the beginning of the 5th using two of my now 4-6th round picks.
As far as the picks go it looked something like this:
1 (15) – Stephen Hill - This is a pick I did not expect to make. I'll say that now. When trading back I knew that Philadelphia had wanted Cox and that in itself made me weary about it, but having the advantage of talking to a lot of people as I was running the draft, I knew that Seattle was trading up for Keuchly as well as the possibility of Richardson and Tannehill dropping. The way I had it figured, I expected one of Coples, Blackmon or Floyd to make it down to me. When the Bucs took Keuchly at 5 everything was thrown off. Needless to say I ended up with none of those players on the board and I had to make a decision. I wanted to trade down into the low 20's and hopefully make this same pick or be in more of a position for Mercilus or other players in that range that I like, but no one bit. In the end it came down to Hill and Barron and due to the players we brought in this Free Agency and the fact that I have not heard of Barron visiting, I decided it would be best to go with Hill in this situation. I give myself a B on this pick as I do see Hill as a potential number 1, but he isn't now and I read t
his part of the draft wrong.
2 (40) – Zach Brown - In this case Brown once again made his way to our pick and I see this as a tremendous value. Brown is an athletic freak and I feel he can come in immediately and be part of a really strong rotation of linebackers. Hopefully we start the season out with Davis and Beason starting but even if they manage to stay healthy all year, we cannot expect Davis to play every down, especially at the beginning of the season I feel. There isn't better players for Brown to learn from and I feel that within a couple years people will be wondering how they let him slide this far in the draft. I gave this pick an A.
2 (51) – Vinny Curry - Some people may see Curry as more of an OLB and wonder why I took two OLB's back to back. The answer to that is I took an OLB and a DE. Curry I see as a DE at this level and I have no doubts he has what it takes to put in the work to succeed. He is no one year wonder and thus he went through the double teams that teams threw at him this year and still succeeded. This quote s
ums that up for me:
This year, coming into the season, everybody knew I was coming off a really hot junior year. Basically I knew what I was getting myself into this year as a senior with game planning and double teams and triple teams and chips and sometimes quadruple teams … So my defensive line coach, Fred Tate, he sat me down one day. He said, What you going to do, man? I’m like, What do you mean? He said, You got to to do something else to separate yourself from the rest of the defensive linemen in the country. So I worked on stripping every day. If you look at my strips or forced fumbles, they’re not really from the quarterbacks. I only had one quarterback forced fumble. The rest came from running backs and chasing down screen plays.
I gave this pick an A.
4 (94) – Andrew Datko - This pick is kind of a question mark. I ha
d been hoping to pick someone like Coples in the 1st, be able to take someone like Brown with the 1st of my 2nd rounders and then use my late 2nd for someone like Osemele or Silatolu. When that did not happen I had planned on taking Kelemente here as I believe he will be a solid starting gaurd in the league. When he was stolen from me a little bit before this pick I had to rethink this pick a lot. I went with Datko because I feel he has a good base and a solid upside. If not for his injuries he would likely be rated as one of the top OT in this draft. The injuries could hamper his progress down the road but I think he could up being a very solid LT or possibly a probowl RT if it works out for the best. I gave this pick a B.
4 (74) – Cliff Harris - Some people during the draft thought my pick of Harris was a bit of a reach here but I feel somewhat otherwise. The reason Harris would be considered a reach here is not because of his skill but because of his attitude. If it wasn't for that, he would probably be considered a first or early second round pick. Another reason I love Harris is his phenomenal punt and kick returning ability. One of the best in the NCAA, I think he will be one of the final pieces we need to complete our ST revamp we have seen this off-season. In the end I did have to take him a little earlier then I wanted as we were experiencing a small run on CB's and I didn't want to miss out on him, for that reason I give him a B as well.
5 (145) – Marcus Forston - Forston here seems to be like a very Hurney like pick. Every year it seems like Hurney makes a pick of someone who has been hurt and falls because of it. The past two years being Hardy and Hogan. Forston coming into the season was seen as one of those DT's that could be the one that became the high pick in the draft that we were all looking for. I think he could come in and form a good rotation with Edwards coming back and our others being a year older and hopefully a year stronger. Like with my last pick I may have been able to get him a little later but as I didn't have another pick anytime soon I really wanted to address the DT position and he was who I thought we the best on the board and potentially be one of the best in the draft. I give it a B+.
6 (181) – Brian Anger - We all know we need a punter and many feel this is the best one. I would be happy with either Anger or Powell. In reality I think we can wait until our comp pick in this round to take care of it but it works out here as well. B+.
6 (207) – Akiem Hicks - I think Hicks was an absolute steal here. Most have him going in the early 5th to sometimes even in the 4th. Hicks will take some time to develop but that is okay as we are likely to have a decent rotation at DT/NT this year but with a base of Fua, Forston, McClain, and Hicks for the future I think we can be fairly excited about them going down the line. A on this pick.
7 (216) – Marquis Maze - This pick I was not around for as this was a point where an issue came up that I had to go take care of so the boys in the room helped me out on this one. Personally, I am not a huge fan of the pick as I had already picked up Harris to serve as a returner and with Hill in the 1st I didn't see a need for another WR. If I had made this pick I probably would have been looking at a TE. Someone like Kevin Koger or Cichester probably. I give this a C+.
Overall, I feel that I fell victim to circumstance a little more then I wanted to, but I do think I was able to work the positions well and provide us good players in areas that we needed them. I think in a few years this group has a potential to be one of the best draft classes to come out of this year as I could see Harris matching up with Hogan as our CB's, Hicks and Forston being part of a really good DT group, Brown being a premier OLB, running RB's down from sideline to sideline and shutting down TE's in coverage, and Datko and Curry both being very good at what they do. Overall, I give this group a B, with a good chance of becoming an A group by the end of the year.
I would much appreciate everyone's thoughts and once again I want to send out a thank you to everyone who participated and gave up their Friday night and Saturday to participate and hang out with a teenager.