Everybody knows that the Panthers selected Arkansas Razorback WR/PR Joe Adams (pronounced 'Jo AD'ams') in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft. There have already been many highlight films provided on this site (both before and after the draft) that demonstrate Joe's explosiveness... he is a threat to score every time he touches the football. Pundits have varying opinions about his skill level as a slot or outside receiver, although he showed up big in the Senior Bowl with 6 catches for 116 yards. No one doubts Joe's return abilities.
Our Panthers have tried, without success, to find a punt returner that can "flip the field" on a regular basis. Field position in the NFL is of paramount importance to success, and we have finally found the man that can make that happen. In 2011, Adams led the country in PRs for touchdowns (4) and was second in Yards Per Return (16.89). Oh, and Arkansas is in the SEC, for those who care about such things.
SEC Special Teams Player of the Year
Inaugural Johnny "The Jet" Rodgers National College Football Return Specialist Award (Sporting News)
College Football Performance Award (CFPA) - Best Punt Returner
Senior Bowl Outstanding Player (South Squad)
We'll look at Joe's strengths and weaknesses as a both punt returner and wide receiver, and show some more movies... after the jump.Strengths: It's easy to see that Adams has elite balance and elusiveness. His quick feet and instincts are a recipe for success in the return game, as well as yards after catch. His speed is deceptive; he clocked a 4.55 at the combine and pro-day (most think he's more of a 4.6 guy), yet he rarely gets caught from behind. The fact is, Joe isn't a combine stud by any measure; instead, he does his talking on the field. He can score from anywhere, even in the backfield, as he did on a 92 yard run to help put away Auburn last season. Joe's lightening quick burst and change of direction, combined with a strong lower body, make him tough to cover, tough to catch, and tough to tackle. Adams is known for taking care of his body through diet and training, and he loves making plays. What really stands out to me from watching the film is his field vision and the timing of his cutbacks... I truly think this is what sets him apart.
Weaknesses: His hands are just average, often letting the pass get through to his body, and he therefore will drop some balls he should catch. Route runnng is also not very good at this point, but he has the quicks and potential to improve in both these areas with some good coaching. Joe's not a big guy, measuring 5'11 and 190lbs at the combine, having actually gained 10 lbs since the end of the season. While his lower body is strong, his upper body is not, which could cause problems getting off the line against press coverage. Fumbles have been a problem as well, with 11 career fumbles, plus 1 in the Senior Bowl. Joe had better learn the high and tight technique to avoid the BAMF doghouse. Lastly, he has some injury concerns - in 2009 he had a mild stroke, and he has had two documented concussions.
Value of the Pick: Joe was tabbed by some to go as high as round two, but most had him graded as a late 3rd/early 4th rounder. Nabbing him with the 9th pick in the 4th round would have to be considered very good value, especially taking into consideration the need at punt returner.
Fit in the Depth Chart: Immediate starter as the punt returner. Joe has a chance to play at wide receiver in some sets as well, but it's doubtful he'll crack the top-3 receiver group as a rookie. Yet, I can see him catching a few bubble screens and letting him work his magic.
Joe Adams' Special Teams Skills:
Adams scores 92-yard rushing touchdown against Auburn:
Joe Adams named 2011 SEC Special Teams Player of the Year (one more for the road?):