Sep 8, 2012; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish nose guard Louis Nix (9) attempts to tackle Purdue Boilermakers wide receiver Raheem Mostert (8) as Purdue center Rick Schmeig (76) defends in the third quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame won 20-17. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE

Draft 2013: Panthers Defensive Tackle Preview

In the continuing saga that rebuilding this Panthers team has become, I will take a look at whom Carolina should draft with their 2nd pick in the 2013 draft. There are many holes on this team that need to be filled. Having said that I will continue to stress where the foundation of any good football team is laid; on both the offensive and defensive lines.The addition of the Edwards brothers certainly helped our defensive line versus the unit we had last season, but as we saw against an injury riddled Eagles team we are still vulnerable. Bryce Brown became the 2nd back named Brown to lambaste the Panthers defense in a primetime matchup this year. It will become even more of a problem now with the announcement of Ron Edwards being placed on IR and is done for the 2012 season. In addition Dwan Edwards, our early season pick up from the Bills, will in all likelihood depart via free agency in the offseason. In my last post I addressed the need the Panthers have along the offensive line. In this post I will offer suggestions of which players may be available to Carolina when their 2nd pick comes around. For the purposes of this post I will only discuss interior defensive lineman. Here we go.

This will be a 2nd round pick. Assuming the Panthers don’t make any moves with the pick, these are some of the defensive lineman Carolina should consider.

Sep 29, 2012; West Lafayette, IN, USA; Purdue Boilermakers defensive tackle Kawann Short (93) against the Marshall Thundering Herd during the second half at Ross-Ade Stadium. Purdue defeated Marshall 51-41. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-US PRESSWIRE

Kawann Short: This is my favorite player after the “Big 2” (Star Lotulelei and Johnathan Hankins) are gone. The Purdue Boilermaker leads the team in tackles for loss with 14.5 and sacks with 6. He was for selected All-Big Ten honors this season at defensive tackle, as well as being a special teams standout having blocked 4 kicks this year. Short entered this season as the top pro prospect in the Big Ten. His best year statistically looked like this: 54 tackles, an impressive 17 tackles for loss, and 6.5 sacks. That season, his junior year, he earned his first All Big Ten honors and he was named the Boilermakers team MVP.Physically speaking Short is not an imposing man, at least not by NFL standards. He is 6’3” tall and tips the scales around 315 lbs. He is not very big but he is powerfully built, as he can bench press over 400 lbs and is able to squat more than 600 lbs! here is what Rob Rang had to say about Short: Short is a large human being with a huge wingspan, using his long arms to bat down passes (11 pass break-ups) and make plays on special teams (4 blocked kicks).
Short can be an immovable object in the middle of the field when he plays disciplined and generates power from his lower body. However, he too often gives streaky effort and doesn’t consistently play with leverage.
Short sees a lot of double-teams, but scouts want to see more of a mean streak and less passiveness. He has been productive over his first three seasons in West Lafayette, but there is also some negative game tape out there on him. And while Short will still be
an attractive pro prospect because of his natural size and tools, he needs to prove he can be consistently more than just a plugging space-eater to cement his top-50 status.

Akeem Spence is a 6’1” 305 lbs junior from the fighting Illini of Illinois. Spence is an ideal 3 technique tackle, who has started since his redshirt freshman year. He spent 2010 starting next to future 1st round pick of the San Diego Chargers Cory Liuget. He is disruptive at times and can improve as a pass rusher. Dane Brugler has this to say about Spence: Spence is naturally strong with the raw power to move blockers where he wants, gaining leverage and fighting through the whistle. Spence uses his quickness off the snap to attack and use his physical nature to aggressively battle his way into the backfield, although he needs to keep his eyes level to follow the ball and not take himself out of the play. Like Liuget two years ago, Spence could warrant first round consideration if he decides to declare early for the draft.

Sylvester Williams is a 6’3” 320 lbs senior from North Carolina. Williams is a juco transfer from North Carolina. Williams possesses the size to be a formidable defender along the defensive front, coming back for his senior season with the Tarheels definitely helped in his draft stock.  He has improved technically. Here is what Tony Pauline has to say about Williams: Williams made an immediate impact for the Tar Heels last season after transferring from Coffeyville College. He’s an explosive tackle who holds his ground and easily controls the line of scrimmage. The ability to be placed at a conventional tackle position or on the nose enhances the value of this first-round prospect.

Louis Nix is a junior out of the University of Notre Dame. At 6’5” 326 lbs he has been a defensive stalwart. Nix has been compared to Vince Wilfork of the New England Patriots, which is high praise considering the success Wilfork has attained on the pro level. Nix is a true 0 technique interior defensive lineman, but also projects well as a 3 technique. Here is what Dane Brugler has to say about Nix:  Although just a redshirt sophomore, Nix is built like a full-grown man with a large frame and strong muscle definition throughout his body. He has nimble feet with the lateral quickness to explode in any direction and chase down the action in pursuit.
He plays hard with a feisty motor and the emergence of back-up Kona Schwenke should allow Nix to stay fresh late in games. Nix has struggled with the pressure and expectations of playing for a high-profile program away from home, but he flashes a rare skill-set for a player his size and strength.

Well these are a few of the interior defensive lineman in the draft who may be available when the Panthers make their 2nd pick. Initially I was partial to Carolina spending their 1st pick on a defensive tackle, but when looking at position depth in the draft, defensive line is considerably deeper than offensive line. So with that in mind I think it best for the Panthers to draft offensive line first and then look to improve upon the defensive front four.

God Bless!
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