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The Panthers are now prepared for the unexpected after drafting Will Grier at No. 100 overall

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There is no shortage of controversy surrounding the Panthers’ selection at the end of the third round

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

With the No. 37 pick in the third round of the NFL Draft the Carolina Panthers stunned many fans with the selection of West Virginia quarterback Will Grier. I myself stood with the confused crowd. Seems like a pretty high draft pick for a sure fire back-up player we will only see play in the preseason. The more I dug into the background of Grier the more I like the pick.

College production

Wow...Grier threw 37 touchdowns with eight interceptions and a 175 quarterback rating.

No wonder the West Virginia faithful called him ‘Touchdown’ Jesus’. They will certainly miss Grier in the coming season. Can we agree this is elite passing production for a college quarterback? I can’t agree to that nickname though. He’s starting with a clean board in Carolina, what you did in college means nothing in training camp.

This is the only highlight video you need to watch:

It takes a little while to show 71 touchdown passes. No I did not count them but it was a bunch. Many of those touchdown passes were against very good defenses.

Pro Football Focus Evaluation

Feel free to watch the video linked but here’s the summary:

Strengths

Elite production
Good at throwing the deep ball; can hit most throws consistently
Makes plays under pressure; has on occasion make bad decisions (20 interceptions)

Weaknesses

Arm strength just average, bit of a gunslinger
Reading coverage changes at the snap
Efficiency drops if he is moved off his spot

Grier is also getting knocked on his potential because most of his success came from the initial play call, not from improvising in response to coverage changes or play break down. No doubt that NFL defenses will look to change things up after snap when facing Grier. In fact I predict he will throw an INT before a touchdown this preseason. Mistakes should be expected.

None of that means Grier doesn’t have a future in Carolina. A lot can change over the course of a rookie contract. Grier will at least be given the chance to develop without the pressure of having to start.

More immediately Grier will be fun to watch in the preseason given Norv Turner is bound to call plays that match his throwing strengths. Preseason football will have a little more excitement this year Panther fans.

NFL comparison

Chris Trapasso with CBS Sports thinks Grier reminds him of Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. I’m not so sure that is the best comparison. The more I watch him the more he makes me think of former Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme. His profile sure reads like Delhomme. Delhomme made the most of his talent and had a propensity to make big plays at the end of games, at least until late in his career. He was a gunslinger who wasn’t afraid to throw into tight windows.

Does he fit the Panthers’ offense?

The Panthers offense features a lot of short passing to running back Christian McCaffrey as well as the tight end and slot receiver. We know firsthand how some of the shorter throws can be the most difficult for certain quarterbacks…like Cam Newton. This will be a focus in his first training camp.

Speaking of training camp I now have another thing on my ‘I can’t wait to see’ list for training camp. The crowd loves deep passes in training camp, they always get lots of ‘ohhs’ and ‘ahhs’. I can see a friendly competition building should Grier make some early connections, even if he starts out as the third or fourth stringer. Things might be a little awkward for Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke with Grier in the mix but I don’t expect the back-up job to be handed to Grier right out of the gate. I give it a week or two before he will taking second team reps.

The good and bad evaluations

I’m not here to completely sugar coat the selection of Grier. Here’s a not so good take on the pick.

Panthers: C

Pete Prisco: He is being taken as a backup, but are we sure he’s better than Kyle Allen? This one doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, as you can get contributors even late in the third round.

Fantasy impact

Dave Richard: I was over the moon for Will Grier after watching his film. He’s a total gamer with a quick release, good arm strength, very good velocity and the ability to make quick decisions (even in a breaking pocket). But I get why he fell in the draft -- he’s 24 years old, a little undersized, was once busted for PEDs and then changed schools, and is more of a gunslinger than a patient, refined passer. The good news is that the Panthers have a capable backup in case Cam Newton misses any playing time. The bad news is that Grier won’t make any Fantasy rosters anytime soon.

Well that fantasy analysis is stating the obvious for just about every quarterback selected in the third round.

I know many fans wanted the Panthers to select a safety with this pick. There were still a couple good ones still on the board. Chauncy-Gardner Johnson and Amani Hooker could to mind first. So should the Panthers struggle at safety or either of these players become all Pros the selection of Grier will be lamented until he gets that chance to play in meaningful games.

Summary

Grier is a player with huge upside but will need time to develop the footwork, timing and mental aspects of the NFL game. He appears to have all the intangibles a player needs to succeed so if he works hard he could be just the man we need should he have to step in at some point in the future. Which is really what this pick is about, having a viable option behind Cam Newton just in case of the unexpected. For that reason i have a hard time knocking this selection.