Carolina Panthers Fall Short of Meeting Needs

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 20: Quarterback Brett Favre #4 of the Minnesota Vikings is pressured by Everette Brown #91 of the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on December 20, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

What if the Carolina Panthers had met their needs? What if they had found a big, bruising defensive tackle; a freakish defensive end, and a Brian Dawkins-like safety? Would we still be having this conversation? Probably. Because it’s fun, right?

Let’s have a look at who is on the Carolina Panthers’ defense.

The latest rage it seems, is two months after the NFL Draft, we’re still finding post-draft and free agency analysis for teams. The Carolina Panthers being no exception — in fact, this is probably the most attention this team will receive for the year, especially when they start winning games. With Carolina, it seems the media’s mantra is, “if they’re doing well, they’re nonexistent.” Not that I care. Just a casual observation.

The latest analysis for the Panthers can be found at Fansided’s NFL Mocks site. Along with the Panthers’ analysis, the rest of the division can be viewed in the same submission.

So according to NFL Mocks, Carolina still has needs at defensive tackle, defensive end, and safety.

With the trading of S Chris Harris, the Panthers must be relying on Sherrod Martin to move into his spot.

There’s good news, however. Sherrod Martin is moving to the position in which he excelled while at Troy. Free Safety. Charles Godfrey will be moved to the strong safety position.

Carolina has suffered heavy losses on the defensive line this offseason with DE Julius Peppers, DT Damione Lewis, and DT Maake Kemoeatu leaving in free agency.

The Panthers did suffer heavy losses…in salary weight. Ma’ake Kemoeatu was on Injured Reserve for all of the 2009 season, and while his presence was grossly missed at first, the eventual signing of Hollis Thomas worked out well for the Panthers — Thomas’ best season of his career, no less.

Damione Lewis was, as some like to term, a “JAG” (Just-A-Guy).

Finally, the infatuation with Julius Peppers. I don’t understand it, really. I know, he registered 10 sacks in 2009. I’m still not impressed with his overall performance. It certainly wasn’t worth $1 million and change per game in 2009. If you think it was, then I invite you to tell me just what Peppers did — without mentioning sack totals — that made him worth the salary he was paid.

In place of the “fallen,” Carolina still has a group of “JAG’s,” according to some.

I see a group of young, unproven potential.

The good news for the defensive line, is there are a few big-bodied tackles in the group as well as some veteran experience. Of the seven tackles, three are over 300 lbs: Corvey Irvin, Louis Leonard, and Tank Tyler. All are over six feet tall. Irvin at 6-3, Leonard at 6-4, and Tyler at 6-2. Where’s the “undersized” everyone speaks so frequently of?

The veteran experience comes from Nick Hayden, Ed Johnson, and Derek Landri. All three of whom are pushing 300 lbs. They are also over six feet tall. The aforementioned could be considered undersized, solely in weight class.

Moving on to the safety position, again, I don’t see the problem with trading away Chris Harris. He was a solid hitter in run coverage, but was too slow in pass coverage. If there’s any problem at the safety position, it will stem from Charles Godfrey, as Sherrod Martin has been given the free safety label. It suits Martin’s strengths.

At defensive end, the Panthers lost an underachiever. They made him an offer to stay, and he turned it down. No, they didn’t offer him more, nor should they have. He didn’t show — no pun intended — why he was worth what he wanted. So again, why the fascination with what amounts to pink elephants?

To simplify, it’s like the one thing you buy at the store for the sole purpose of throwing away: trash bags. Almost everyone buys them knowing full and well it’s going to be thrown away — you’re literally throwing money away. You need them, but there are alternatives which work just as well.

At defensive end, the Panthers are looking for third-year draft pick Everette Brown to step in, along with 30-year old Tyler Brayton (a re-signed player whom I am less-than thrilled about), Charles Johnson, Eric Moore, and rookie draft picks Greg Hardy and Eric Norwood — if it’s decided Norwood will play DE.

Mostly young guys, yes. There is no freakish abilities which we are aware of from any of them, but they will give it their all on every down.

While my point seems futile, it really isn’t. Because you will never ask why any of these guys took that last play off.

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This posting is property of and Fansided.

Tags: @THECatCrave Carolina Panthers Charles Godfrey Charles Johnson Chris Harris Corvey Irvin Damione Lewis Derek Landri Ed Johnson Eric Moore Eric Norwood Everette Brown Facebook FanSided Greg Hardy Hollis Thomas Julius Peppers Louis Leonard Maake Kemoeatu NFL NFL Mocks Nick Hayden Sherrod Martin Tank Tyler Twitter Tyler Brayton

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  • Rickn3car

    Nice Eric,
    Speaking of freakish…Well on the defensive side of the ball there is a newly signed Panther who may just be one of the huge sleepers to come out of the 2010 draft.

    Many wanted Greg Hardy to enter the draft in 2009. He felt he would have a better chance to go number ONE overall if he stayed in school and polished up his game…Did he say number one overall? Yes.

    Not only did Hardy believe it, but the biggest names in the sports media supported his argument. In April 2009, Sports Illustrated even ranked Hardy as the favorite for the NUMBER one OVERALL draft pick in the 2010 draft.

    Well a slippery slope seemed to pop up for Hardy. Before the season started Hardy and Dexter McCluster were in an auto accident where they were banged up and where the car itself burst into flames and was destroyed.

    While both players seemed to escape without injury Hardy noticed more foot pain and while his foot was hardly ready to walk on, it shoudl not have been as out of kilter as it was after the wreck. Hardy was checked by his doctors and told to wear the “boot” (flex cast) again. This was the same foot that had operated on two times that had been getting better…that is, until the wreck.

    Hardy had suffered injuries early on but he continued to play and played while hurt. He had been seen by some as lacking effort when he was actually playing hurt and giving it all he had.

    When Houston Nutt finally came in and got a grasp of the situation and what was going on he got Hardy the help he needed and suddenly the 280 pound 6’4 defensive machine was on the real track to getting better.

    Hardy had to miss the last portion of his senior season due to a wrist injury but he had a personal goal of playing in the Cotton Bowl. Not only did he show up for every 5:30 am practice/training session, he would come early and stay late.

    Nutt had no doubt his star defensive end would play in the Cotton Bowl and then play well in the NLF. As late as last December there were some who believed Hardy would be a day one selection.

    However, when draft day rolled around there were teams who were afraid of using a day one pick on a player who may not be able to last a season.

    The thing to keep in mind is the injuries were not related and the Carolina Panthers medical staff felt the young Hardy was healthy and ready to play.

    Now, if Hardy can duplicate just half of what he was able to achieve in his second season at Ole Miss then the NFC needs to their quarterbacks’ blind side as Hardy has an initial burst that would make Julius Peppers blush. These quarterbacks need to hold on to the footballs tightly as Hardy is a fumble forcing, qb sacking terror!

    The glimpse we have seen so far, from the OTA’s, showed Hardy being Hardy. After a recent practice Hardy was required to run the field from side-to-side with the team’s linemem, two times. Hardy finished at least 20 yards ahead of the nearest runner each time.

    TO make things more interesting, the linemen were released but Hardy stayed and asked to be included in the same “wind” sprints but this time with the faster running backs, wide receivers, defensive backs, linebackers and others. Amazingly, each time, Hardy, who is 280 pounds, finished near the front of the pack no small feat and a tribute to a young man who came prepared and in shape.

    Charles Johnson has his eyes on Julius Peppers old job, but another former college basketball and football player may have something to say about that.

    So, Eric…there may be more needs met than most have considered…and I have not even mentioned the Welker, Edleman, McCluster, Steve Smith combo pack name Armanti Edwards!

    • Eric Quackenbush

      Nice story, Rick. I do remember that accident, too.

      It speaks volumes of the research the Panthers’ scouts put into their potential draft day targets. Another thing about Hardy having the foot problem and now being a member of the Panthers: Charlotte is highly noted for foot specialists.

      On top of that, Hardy will not be heavily relied upon in his rookie season, so that will also give his foot a chance at recovery, as well as plenty of time with strength and conditioning. That will do wonders for Hardy, as it has so far for Jonathan Stewart.

      Thanks for the read and great comment!

  • Mark

    Thanks Ric for the great comment,I was unaware of the accident Greg was in but am fully aware of his raw talent and 24/7 work ethic. As was stated,he will be used sparingly,probably in pass rush sits. That will allow his foot to recover even more than it has. I just hope Fox does not do like he usually does and sit Greg on the bench when he is fully capable of playing.

    • Eric Quackenbush

      Unless the effort being given by the defensive ends ahead of Hardy is adequate, I’d agree with you, Mark. Thanks for the comment!

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