Legend has it that an English trading ship by the name of Octavius was discovered in an isolated region of the Arctic in the year 1775. The captain of this doomed ship was found sitting at his desk making one last entry into his logbook. The rest of his crew were found in the cabin, while others were still laying in their hammocks. For thirteen long years, this floating tomb was still being manned by its frozen crew.
Similarly, the Panthers ship has been approaching some icebergs of their own. Captain Gettleman has his chilly hands tied with frozen assets and it seems as if his team may never thaw out. But unlike the final fate of the Octavius and its crew members, there is hope for a brighter tomorrow. Until that time, the captain must navigate the frosty waters of a limited budget and if he isn't careful, his scurvy-weakened team could ultimately seal his own fate.
If the solution to fielding a playoff team in 2014 is dependent entirely upon free agency, then the Panthers and their fans are in for a long season. The good news is that this thing called the draft is still scheduled to go down in early May and as long as that is the case, they still have a chance to compete with the best of them. Of course, free agency will always take a back seat to the draft when it comes to sustainable success. With that being said, let's take a look at an ACC product who could pay huge dividends in the immediate future and beyond.
If you haven't heard of Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller, then this would be a good time to familiarize yourself with him because he could very well be in the mix for the Panthers first round selection.
-Well coached and experienced prospect who played consistently well at the highest levels of college football
-Two-time first team All-ACC
-Natural leader who earned team captain status in his final two seasons with the Hokies
-Student of the game
-Exemplary work ethic
-High football IQ
-Above average route-recognition
-Fundamentally sound tackler when he isn't diving at ankles
-Extremely effective when asked to shoot the gap and make a play in the backfield(see 14.5 TFL as a sophomore)
-Excels in off man coverage, but shows well in press man or zone coverage
-Strong and quick enough to re-route receivers when lined up in press man coverage
-Displays outstanding closing speed when tackling or breaking on the ball
-Good sized athlete(6' 0") with long arms(32 3/4)
-Able to flip hips with ease and mirror the opponents every move
-Plays with his head on a swivel
-Propensity to get beat on deep balls
-Recovery speed leaves something to be desired
-Receivers are able to gain too much separation at times
-Needs to strengthen his wiry frame
-Lunges at ball carriers too ofen and occasionally finds himself tackling the air as a result
-Lack of strength gets him in trouble when blockers are able to latch on
-Didn't get tested a great deal in college which reveals how much he was respected, but that won't be the case at least early on in his NFL career
-Struggles when covering receivers who possess explosive straight line speed athletes
-Struggles to stay with elite route runners
Some pundits have Darqueze Dennard, Justin Gilbert and Jason Verrett ranked ahead of Fuller. It's a toss up for me. It really depends on what type of skill set a given team covets from their cornerback in the particular system that they employ. From this angle, the Baltimore native makes a ton of sense for the Panthers. He is a long and athletic prospect who possesses commendable coverage skills. Couple that with his dynamic blitzing ability and you have one tempting first round prospect.
What about you CSR? What do you think of Fuller? Also, be sure to let everyone know what you think of my latest mock draft located at the bottom of the page.
2014 Carolina Panthers Mock Draft 10.0
|1||CB Kyle Fuller||6' 0"||190||Virginia Tech|
|2||OT Morgan Moses||6' 6"||314||Virginia|
|3||TE C.J. Fiedorowicz||6' 5"||265||Iowa|
|4||FS Dion Bailey||6' 0"||201||Southern Cal|
|5||WR Kevin Norwood||6' 2"||198||Alabama|
|6||WR Jeff Janis||6' 3"||219||Saginaw Valley State|
|7||OT Justin Britt||6' 6"||325||Missouri|