With one game tonight the season will be over. It was a great season from start to finish. I remember sitting in a bar with a patriots fan (crazy, I know but somehow we’re friends) in week 4. Panthers go up in the 4th and he says, "oh you guys got it now" & I just held my breath. "Lets wait til it’s over, I’ve been watching this team for a long time". Well, we lost & oh the rant that ensued. It was a doozy. We all know the feeling. But, we also all know what followed. The glory that was, but fell just short.
Now, the offseason begins. The exciting time when we all get to play "if I were GM" and meet new, potential Panthers. I love reading everyone’s mocks and evaluations of potential Panthers and thought I’d join in the fun. I’m going to try and break down the idea of ‘BPA’ as it relates to our first pick and 3 players who should be available. In my head this makes sense and I’m trying to do something a little bit more than the generic ‘need vs. BPA’ because I think each of these prospects are excellent prospects and there is a case to be made for each. So, here we go…
Hands down BPA
This may ruffle feathers… Or is it fur because we’re Panthers? Fur can ruffle, I think. I digress, I like ASJ more than Eric Ebron & Jace Amaro. Truthfully, I even like CJ Fiedorowicz more than both of those guys but this post is about first rounders so I’ll move on. While I understand the love fest with Ebron & Amaro from what little I’ve seen of those guys they look more like big, mismatch WR's than TE's. Both of their games I saw neither spent much time on the LoS and we already have the ever reliable Greg Olsen to fill the ‘JackofAllTradesMasterofNone' TE position. This team needs 2 TE sets; but more importantly, we need a second TE who can BLOCK and catch. At pick 28 I see ASJ as a miniature Jason Witten with the size and tenacity to be a great TE for years to come.
I’m calling this the "Whatchyu-got-in-your-cupboard BPA". Not directly related but the idea of looking at BPA from a ‘team weakness’ point of view came to me after reading this Sockpupeteerisback’s great article on double dipping. I was so happy when we doubled down on DT’s because it was the perfect blend of need meets BPA and some people would make the case that it could happen again this year with WR. OL & WR are our weakest positions. Stick meet horse, horse this is stick. I give WR the edge as greatest need because we had so many injuries to the Oline whereas WR is just weak. Steve Smith has finally lost a step. It’s happened. Insert Jordan Matthews who says & does all the right things. He has size, great hands, & runs excellent routes. He fills a HUGE need on the team, but this is not my favorite pick. Matthews wins the Cupboard BPA category but in our offense we need a true #1 & I don’t see Matthews striking fear into any opposing DC’s. I also believe there are many other late-round prospects that could fill the same role without the first round price.
Antonio is my "Let’s-make-the-whole-team-better BPA". I have thought for a while on the OL vs WR what-should-we-upgrade-first debate and there’s certainly an argument to make here for a WR being the greater impact (regardless of free agency moves); however, no matter how hard I try I just can’t shake the image of Williams and Tolbert taking handoffs and literally having nowhere to go. Offensive guards weren’t a bright spot last year but we should have our choice between Amini, Travelle, Edmund, Garry & Nate, which IMO is not a bad place to be. The only remaining weak link on the line is RT & as much as I like Byron Bell it’s time for an upgrade.
So that's that. I don't watch tape and only really know these players based off of live games I caught during the college season. That being said, I look forward to hearing yalls take on these players and how you think they (or others) stand out as BPA. Thanks for your time and enjoy the SB tonight. Here's to us being in it this time next year.