Former Carolina Panthers General Manager Marty Hurney’s legacy will be staring everyone in the organization – not to mention the fans – right in the face when the San Francisco 49′ers are on the clock with the 74th overall pick of the the NFL Draft. That’s what it costs for immediate satisfaction when the Panthers traded up last year to choose DE Frank Alexander.
That’s old news, but what it does is put up an artificial barrier and focuses even more attention on their first two picks.
Carolina does still have their 4th (108 overall), 5th (141), and 6th (172) choices…only 5 overall. The 7th was the rest of Alexander’s compensation to San Francisco in last year’s deal.
Water under the bridge now, or it will be after the draft…at some point in the far-distant future. But I digress.
With so much information overload on the top two rounds, let’s take a look at possible names available in round four:
Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas Pine-Bluff – Armstead is a classic raw talent from a small school. Given the apparent lack of progress that the Panthers have seen so far in Midwestern State left tackle-turned-NFL guard Amini Silatolu, Carolina could be a little gun shy on doubling down on a pick using this strategy right now. On the other hand, given the recent upward trend of tackles due to positional value, he may be long gone.
Gavin Escobar, TE, San Diego State – His is a case of the Scouting Combine costing him. Going in, he was thought to be one of those 2nd round/borderline first round guys…a kid not from such a small school, just one not in the limelight much. Shrouded with a bit of mystery, he put up very pedestrian numbers in his drills and the mystique went away. His game tape is what could sell him to the Panthers in the 4th round and could add a little bit to the passing game without costing the team an early pick.
Alvin Bailey, OG, Arkansas – Bailey was a very good run-blocker at Arkansas and his size and athleticism should allow him to plug into virtually any offensive system and do well. He needs some refinement as he sometimes lunges at opponents, but that’s why he might still be around in the 4th.
Akeem Spence, DT, Illinois – Spence is a prototype DT in the 4-3 that Carolina runs. While he’s not an accomplished pass rusher like, say, Dwan Edwards is, he has a lot of collegiate experience and has a knack for filling running lanes and is an explosive tackler and would be an upgrade over departed DT Ron Edwards.
Jelani Jenkins, OLB, Florida – Jenkins has decent (4.6-40) speed and like Akeem Spence, has a good nose for the ball carrier against the run. He’s a very good tackler and that’s a key as you cannot miss tackles and be a stout run defender – just look at Manti Te’o against Alabama in this past January’s BCS title game. He should slip to the 4th round due to some injuries in college and a questionable motor in pursuit. An NFL strength program should get him to bulk up a bit and help him shed blockers.