With the release of Geoff Hangartner the Panthers were left with very little at the right guard position. The presumed plan is to buy some time for Valdosta State rookie Edmund Kugbila; whether it be half a year, one year, two years, or more. Kugbila possesses more than adequate athleticism to become a starter in the NFL, but he's not technically skilled enough, nor familiar enough with the offense to become a Week 1 starter.
The preferred mode of action, at least amongst fans, would have Carolina make a short term deal with a vested veteran to hold the spot for a year or two. Fiscally, GM Dave Gettleman has the resources to make such a deal, now with over 14 million dollars in cap space. However, the front office may envisage rolling over that capital to 2014, in order to pay for extensions to valued players Greg Hardy and Brandon Lafell.
All that supposition aside, as of today, Garry Williams is the starter at right guard. The former UDFA, Williams was a left tackle at Kentucky, even making the second team All-SEC as a senior. Valued for his diversity, Williams has seen time at both tackle and guard for Carolina over his four year tenure in Charlotte. Last season, with the offensive line befallen with injuries, Williams started nine games.
Is Williams a capable starter at right guard for the Panthers; at least for 2013?
At 6'3" 320 lbs., Williams has good feet, apparent in the coaching staff's decision to play him at right tackle last year, especially Week 7 versus Dallas, when he usurped the position from Byron Bell. Additionally, Williams was frequently pulled on Power runs, and lined up as a tight end in goal-line formations.
Looking back to Week 17, we have Williams at RG versus the Saints.
At the snap, Williams has a good stance as the New Orleans DL encroaches.
Williams does a fine job engaging the DL, and gaining good position with his hand, stalemating the lineman.
With the DL trying to get to the edge on Williams, the RG delivers a good strike to the torso of the defender, keeping pace with the lineman.
The defender then tries to change direction, employing a swim move against Williams. Unfazed, the RG mirrors the DL, not allowing him an angle to the QB.
As QB Cam Newton releases the pass, Williams begins his own counterattack, pushing the DL back towards the LOS.
Williams is consistently able to mirror defensive tackles, and run defenders out of the pocket. Consequentially, Williams is a great blocker for outside zone runs.
Williams gets a great jump, and achieves good leverage and hand positioning, with his left arm locked into the torso of Kelly, driving him outside.
The RG continues to block, with center Jeff Byers now joining him. One complaint I have with Williams' game, visible in this instance, Williams often fails to engender bend in his hips, prohibiting him from generating power. Even still, the RG has more than done his job on this play.
Not yet finished, Williams disengages from Kelly and engulfs LB Miles Burris.
From this 22 personnel set, the Panthers will run another outside zone run.
Matched up with a nose tackle this go around, Williams again gets out in front of the DL, getting good leverage on the defender.
So far ahead of the NT, Williams actually has to slow his momentum greatly, sealing the NT from the approaching RB, DeAngelo Williams.
Despite the unorthodox technique, Williams keeps the hole open for the RB, allowing him to pick up a good gain.
The five year pro, Williams isn't a technician, although he possesses a good deal of brute strength which, contradictory to the normal course of events, often mitigates his technical flaws.
Now Week 15 versus San Diego, here Carolina will run a play-action pass, leaving Williams mano-a-mano with the adjacent SD DL.
Another characteristic of his game, Williams isn't always quick with his hands, which often results in poor hand positioning, as is the case here. Williams is slow to engage the DL, allowing the Charger lineman to get his hands inside Williams' pads.
With decent pad level, Williams is able to staunch the defender's bull rush, and maintain positioning.
Initially jolted by the DL's bull rush, Williams recovers and is able to keep the defender from encroaching on Newton's pocket.
On the other hand, Williams' sloppy technique will get him burned every now and again against skilled defensive linemen.
Here, against Oakland, Williams will be charged with pass protection.
Again, Williams is slow to reach his arms into the DL's torso.
The DL executes a superb bull rush; his hands are in great position, and his pads are lower than Williams', which will allow him to drive the RG backwards.
Williams is jolted, and unable to keep the DL away from his torso, unable to disengage and counterattack the DL.
Williams is nearly thrown into Newton, as the DL crashes the pocket, forcing the QB to escape.
Touched on above, Williams is not a great handfighter.
On this draw play, Williams' assignment is to block out DL Antonio Garay.
Engaged with Garay, Williams does a solid job of attacking first, and acquiring solid hand position, which should allow him to hold the block as the RB hits the hole.
Williams has the better pad level, and previously held the superior hand positioning, but he allows Garay to disengage as RB Williams approaches.
Subsequently, Garay breaks free of Williams and tackles the ballcarrier after a three-yard gain.
In a best case scenario for Carolina, Williams is a good backup player who can fill in at multiple positions. However, with the present situation, the Panthers should be able to make do with Garry Williams at right guard. He isn't a weak link on the line, and his presence won't be detrimental to the line play as a unit. Longterm, Williams isn't the answer at right guard, but he may be able to buy time for Kugbila's development.
All things considered, there have been rumblings that the front office has a plan in place to upgrade the right guard position; ideally, the Panthers would pick up a more than capable guard via cuts. Although, Williams does present a palatable option for 2013.