David Gettleman went 12-4 in his first season as Panthers GM, with a division title and home playoff game to boot. In last year's draft the Panthers ignored obvious needs at offensive tackle, wide receiver, and within the defensive backfield. Then he spent two draft picks on the positions we were deepest, linebacker and running back (It was bedlam on here after that). Gettleman stayed true to his draft board, and our months of mock drafts were effectively trolled.
Dave could easily say, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". This team wants to win on defense via a potent pass-rush and top level linebackers, and live by a power-running game on offense. Here is a draft with Gettleman playing to his strengths, and trolling the fan base some more in the process.
1.28 Stephon Tuitt, DE/DT Notre Dame (6-5, 304, 5.01)
Wide receiver? Offensive line? Defensive backs? That's what mid-round picks and undrafted free agent signings are for. The thought of pairing Ryan Shazier with Luke Kuechly is oh so tempting here, but Gettleman goes with the big boy from Notre Dame. Gettleman said it himself at the combine:
"Big men win, it’s just the way it is. You look at Seattle and they’ve got heavy bodies up front, their linebackers are a little bit smaller, but that secondary’s monstrous. It’s a big man’s game, don’t let anybody tell you any different, and that’s what we have to do."
It's hard to get much bigger than Tuitt. Plus he can add variety along the defensive line by playing multiple positions (3, 5, and 7 technique). The Panthers went 12-4 in 2013 off the strength of their pass rush, and they will make plans to ensure it stays potent.
2.60 Cyrus Kouandjio, OT Alabama (6-7, 322)
The Panthers desire to be a power-running team, yet lack the power offensive line to be so. The Combine knee rumours are so back and forth, it is starting to sound like Star's situation last year. If he slides this far as a result, Team Gettleman will be waiting to pounce once again.
Love him or hate him, Kouandjio is one of the best run-blocking offensive lineman in this draft. It doesn't matter that speed rushers can eat him alive. Former linemate DJ Fluker did all right, and helped revitalize the Chargers in the process (hey I'm sure Ron noticed that too). Plus if Gettleman really valued pass protection over size and run-blocking, Byron Bell would not have started last year (and his run-blocking is very over-rated).
3.92 Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor (6-5, 329)
Dave squeals with joy as "Mollie Mania" continues. In just three picks, almost a half-ton of beef has been added to the Panthers roster. Amini's ACL is no sure thing. Neither is Edmund Kugbila. Plus either way, our offensive-line depth sucks. Gettleman has said the Panthers will take the best guy on their board, and it could easily be Richardson here. If Larry Warford could have a great Senior Bowl and still last until early third round, then Richardson could go late third after a bad Senior Bowl. A power running game behind Kouandjio and Richardson could be ferocious.
4th. Cody Latimer, WR Indiana (6-3, 215, 4.38)
The masses pleaded for an offensive rebuild. With his third offensive pick in a row, Gettleman is doing just that. The need for a wideout isn't totally lost on Dave. But they aren't a priority when you are a "run-first" team. Even so, Latimer has a secret. Out of the guys I've watched, he's the best run-blocking wideout in this class. Plus he's got size and athleticism. Sounds like a perfect match to me.
5th. Andre Williams, RB Boston College (5-11, 230, 4.56)
Getts finishes up his offensive rebuild as only he can (or maybe like Foxy and Hurney too). It's hard to be a power-running team without a power-running back. Stewart has missed more games than he's played for the past two seasons. D-Will's not that type of guy. And for whatever reason, Tolbert's carries get limited on game-day. Gettleman had the balls to pick a RB last year, and it could happen again this year. Someone can always just be inactive on game-day.
It's a deep RB class, and it's likely none go in the first round again this year. There are about 5 guys who could go ahead of Williams, so maybe he's still on the board here. After making four offensive picks in a row, Getts feels like he has silenced his critics, and has made a good faith effort to "get Cam some help" this year.
6th. Jordan Tripp, OLB Montana (6-3, 234, 4.67)
What's a Panther's draft without a small school prospect? And what's a Panther's draft without a linebacker? Tripp kills two birds with one stone. He's another one of those experienced/instinctive/team leader type of guys. He can compete with Klein, or perhaps both eventually get on the field together and pair nicely with Kuechly. The Panthers continue to keep an important strength strong, the linebacking corps. Getts has already cut, traded, or retired most of the old guard (Anderson, Gamble, Beason, Gross, Smitty), so Davis should keep an eye out despite his recent contract restructure.
7th. Brock Vereen, CB/S, Minnesota (6-0, 199, 4.47)
Brock turned heads at the Combine after his 40 time, and the Panthers have shown some interest in him. He fits the mold of what the Panthers like in a DB: size, smartness, and instincts. He is also reported to be another vocal guy and team leader on the field.
Priority UDFA: Corey Brown, WR Ohio St (5-11, 178)
If you work-out a late round wideout, you may as well sign him if he goes undrafted. The Panthers add another wideout for good measure. Brown is a speed guy and will provide competition as a returner, but he was still the most productive wideout for the Buckeyes lasty year.
So there you have it, identity set. More beef and pass rush on defense. More beef and smashmouth on offense. What grade would you give Mr. Gettleman?