The combine is over. After four long days for each of those 300 plus potential/future NFL employees, the long awaited flight out of Indianapolis finally arrived. Some may have been eager to leave but odds are they will be seeing the same faces up until they get a permanent boss April 26th.
Teams also have a few more opportunities to see anything previously missed and ask any questions previously not asked. Pro Days may increase the stock of some depending on performance and answers given to certain questions. With certain surprises almost guaranteed at every draft, I see this draft being no different.
That is not to say Andrew Luck or RG3 will not be the number one and two quarterbacks selected. Im just saying before its all said and done some teams will make some draft choices that make you do more than scratch your head. The same can be said with the direction we may see some teams go early on in the draft that will be opposite of what was originally projected.
It happens every year.
This makes the 2012 NFL draft even more intriguing for a team like the Carolina Panthers, being that they have spots on both sides of the ball that can be filled with First Round Talent, or what I like to call Day 1 starters. Someone who will be drafted with the expectation and ability to start coming into Training Camp his Rookie season.
Once again, some of these names that will be mentioned may not be available at NO. 9 overall when the Carolina Panthers select. But it doesn’t mean that if available the Panthers wont pull the trigger on drafting them. The idea of Luck, or Griffin coming to Charlotte is a little far fetched so I apologize now if you were looking forward to fantasizing about those two playing at Bank of America Stadium in this column.
Considering most would say now that the number 9 pick will be used on one of several great defensive players coming out. Lets be fair and examine the possibility, (or another fantasy) of some of these offensive “can’t miss” guys coming to Carolina.
1.) Matt Kalil 6’7″ 306 lbs USC Offensive Tackle
This may be just as far fetched as Luck or Griffin. But the possibility of Kalil slipping farther than Top 5 is far more likely than the other two. (Either way, all 3 are unlikely to slip out of the Top 5)
With that said, Kalil would be too good to pass up at 9 if he were to slip. Even with Carolina showing depth at this position and having several young players they have confidence in, this big boy from Southern Cal is another Day 1 starter. Teaming up with Jordan Gross would make this O-Line even more of a force in front of the now three-headed monster running game.(Newton, Stewart, Williams) Even if that meant playing Kalil all over just to keep him on the field.
The fact that rumors have began to circulate of veteran Guard Travelle Wharton potentially becoming a cap casualty, this pick could make a little more sense if he were to magically drop to Carolina with the number nine overall pick.
The type of offense the Panthers run one would think you could never have too many talented offensive lineman. Kalil can play multiple positions on the line. He ran a 4.99 40 yard dash at 300 plus pound. Along with his 34.5 inch arm length and the athletic ability this big guy possesses, he is another cornerstone “can’t miss” franchise player. Definitely a player with the ability to play in many Pro Bowls. Most put Matt in the category as one of the “Best O-Lineman” in the last ten or so years.
2.) Justin Blackmon 6’1″ 207 lbs Oklahoma State Wide Receiver
I think i have heard this very statement several times about this young man and I couldn’t explain him better myself. Not sure where i originally heard it but here it is……….
“He has all the talent and skills of Dez Bryant………………………. plus, in addition to all those tools he is smarter”
Now in any case, I will not bash Bryant by saying i agree or think he is not smart by any means, he is very talented in his own right. But for the most part everything Blackmon has done on and off the field thus far and throughout his collegiate career shows this statement more true than false.
The two of them had similar college careers as OK State Cowboys. Both dominated and were key contributors to the success of each of their teams. Dez was and Blackmon is a Top 5 talent no question. Though one would eventually fall in the draft due to off-field questions, we will see if Carolina is lucky enough to see this starting NFL receiver fall to the number 9 selection in this 2012 Draft.
Blackmon didn’t do much of anything at the NFL Combine and Im not too sure what he will do at his Pro Day. We will have to wait and see. No matter what he does do from now till the draft he has shown to many that he has the skills to be a contributing wide receiver in the league his rookie season similar to A.J. Green and Julio Jones this past 2011 NFL campaign.
3.) Riley Reiff 6’6″ 313 lbs Iowa Offensive Tackle
This name is more of a possibility perhaps than the previous two.
Maybe not as logical as previous defensive names but more of a possibility if different teams trade up for specific players. Hence, RG3 or even a late move for someone to jump up and get Trent Richardson or Justin Blackmon.
If any of those trades were to happen, every other player would get pushed down and quickly turn into a value draft with each selection following. This would most likely result in several offensive and defensive lineman falling lower than their worth. Meaning it would be foolish to not select a guy of Reiff’s quality and potential if he is available at 9 or below. Most including myself have him as a Top Ten overall player in the coming Draft.
All those things said, similar to the addition of Kalil, Reiff would bring you the versatility to play a Day 1 guy pretty much anywhere on the O-Line. If you ask his Head Coach while at Iowa, Kirk Ferentz might tell you he could produce on the defensive line.
He was recruited on that side of the ball and prior to 2009 some thought he still may play defense but luckily for Iowa fans he started for three years and every game of each was on the O-Line. He is great in pass protection and showed consistently he could get in open field to the second level on Linebackers. Along with his NFL size and great footwork he could play multiple positions.
All of those things mentioned make him not only a great fit in Carolina, Reiff is another “can’t miss” with the number nine overall pick.
Stay up to date and prepared for everything Carolina Panthers here on CatCrave now till the NFL Draft and after. Check back for the Marcus Mock Big Board coming soon breaking down the Top 7 and more at each position entering the 2012 Draft. More big names and others maybe not on your radar to watch out for, including who your favorite team may draft.
Like this column, dont forget to check me out also on http://keepingitheel.com/ covering everything UNC. The combination of both will keep any loyal UNC and Panther fan up to the minute with what we should all know.