Luke Keuchly was added to a Panthers linebacking core that is already very solid. Headlined by Jon Beason and Thomas Davis, both coming off of season ending injuries that occured the past September. Not only Beason and Davis, but also James Anderson, who had a very solid 2011 season, are on this Carolina Panthers squad at linebacker. The question must arise, was bolstering an already solid core of linebackers the best choice for the Panthers out of the draft? Now, I do believe that he is certainly impressing during Training Camp, and his collegiate records speak for themselves, but with a cornerbacking squad of the likes that we have, should a linebacker have been picked? Our projected starting lineup at corner, with the injuries to the hamstrings of Josh Norman and Brandon Hogan, is Gamble as the 1 and 5'8'" Captain Munnerlyn as the 2. Our only problem is not only corner, but also at DT. We currently have Terrell McClain as our number 1, and Andre Neblett as the 2. A similar position, Nose tackle, has Ron Edwards as the top man and Sione Fua as the 2. There are routes to have been explored to correct problems with our team, not improve an already solid unit.
Height is something that you can't change. Some people are tall, others aren't. Captain Munnerly most certainly is not. The Panthers face Drew Brees, who is paired with 6'7" Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston, who is 6'4", twice a year. Not to mention an ever-improving Atlanta offense, with Roddy White and Julio Jones, and a Vincent Jackson-led Bucs team, both 2 times on the schedule.
Though there were never any rumors of this specific trade, one could be led to believe that if the Panthers were to offer the 9th overall pick and something more that Mo Claiborne could have been an option. Claiborne was not the only Corner on the board who was projected as a first rounder, as Stephon Gilmore of South Carolina (taken one pick after ours, at 10 to Buffalo) and Dre Kirkpatrick of Alabama (selected 17th to Cincinnati) were both first round quality cornerbacks. Gilmore could have been taken by staying with our 9th pick, but if we decided on Kirkpatrick we may have been able to add an extra pick or player by trading down a few. Perhaps it would have been a way to help out with our other problem, Defensive Tackle.
Many experts thought that the Panthers would select a DT in the draft. The two that we were rumored to pick were Dontari Poe, who was taken 11 by Kansas City, and Fletcher Cox, picked one after Poe by the Eagles. Both could have started, in all likelihood, from Day 1. We have a hole at the position, as neither of our starters are anything above average at all. We face Michael Turner, a between the tackles type runner twice, an explosive Saints running game 2 times, and the Bucs, with young rookie Doug Martin in multiple games.
No one, including myself, who has met the man at Training Camp (very nice guy, as I asked him if I pronounced his name correctly and he politely told me that I did, and when I asked him if he agreed with Ryan Kalil's Superbowl promise, he said of course, as did all the rest) is questioning neither his skill at the position or his character as a football player and man. The only thing I do find myself questioning is, "With all that we need, was he worth it".