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Two of the draft's top prospects have strong ties to the area, and it could be a factor in them arriving in Charlotte.
The Carolina Panthers love local talent -- for better, and for worse. It's a methodology that transcends the scouting department, and permeates the entire organization. Jerry Richardson doesn't allow locality to trump talent, but if the two fall in line, so be it. There's a reason the team spent so much time with Quinton Coples last year, why they drafted Josh Norman, and added a spate of local players as undrafted free agents. Whether the organization view it as giving back to the area, or thinks getting local players breeds innate loyalty, they will look to home-grown talent when possible. Wide receiver might not be the team's biggest need, but it will be soon. To this end there are two who fit the bill, both of whom are local, and at the top of their position.
First there's Cordarrelle Patterson, from Rock Hill, SC -- a player we said to keep an eye on. A few short weeks ago Patterson was seen as an upside receiver, and a risk-reward prospect. In many ways he still is, but lightning quick 40-times in Indianapolis have pushed him into top-ten discussion. His pre-draft process eerily mirrors the player most scouts believe he most resembles -- Julio Jones. In both cases the players were viewed as 'upside' receivers, with some shortcomings. Jones was charged with bad hands, and less-than-perfect route running; pegged by most as a fringe 1st rounder, his stellar combine while nursing an injury transcended his projection, and enticed the Atlanta Falcons enough to trade up into the top ten. With over 2,000 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns -- his two-year career has been stellar. Now it's a question whether Patterson will even be available for the Panthers pick, not whether they should take a risk on him.
The second in Keenan Allen, who was born in Greensboro, NC. A big-bodied receiver with a natural ability after the catch, he would add more size to a team that craves it. Sidelined in Indy due to injury, Allen has found a curious ally in his pre-draft process, one that should pique the interest of Panthers' fans.
Me and Keenan at the combine . Killin him not to be able to run routes . He'll be ok possible pro day at Proehlific twitter.com/RickyProehl/st…— Ricky Proehl (@RickyProehl) February 24, 2013
That's an awfully interesting bedfellow. Carolina's wide receivers coach is spending time with Allen pre-draft, and having him conduct his pro day at Proehl's private facility in Greensboro? I'd say there's some mutual interest here for sure.
Add to the fact that Allen and Proehl and spending time together, than he's a local prospect, and went to Ron Rivera's alma mater? If you're looking for likely targets, Keenan Allen should probably be 1-A. It's interesting to see how successful teams conduct themselves during the draft, and who winning teams are scouting. In Indianapolis it was reported that the San Francisco 49ers spent time interviewing Keenan Allen.
The primary need is in the trenches, that fact has been talked to death. However, with this organization's proclivity towards local talent there's a good chance we could see either Patterson or Allen in a Panthers' hat come April.