Everyone in Carolina is talking about the Panthers #1 overall pick in the upcomming 2011 NFL draft. Here’s a breakdown of Carolina’s biggest needs.
Panthers need to Stop the Run
Repeatedly last season, the Panthers were gashed by opposing teams rushing attack. Ranked 23rd overall in rushing defense, the Panthers were also the 7th worst team giving up Rushing points at 408 last season. The most alarming stat however is the fact that opposing teams rushed against the Panthers 121 times (out of 503 total attempts) on first down. This means that everyone in the stadium was looking for run, the opposition handed the ball off, and they still moved the sticks forward.
Thomas Davis was sorely missed, but he may have been even more missed because his absence moved Jon Beason out of the middle LB position. Having a healthy line backing core will certainly help the Panthers stop the run, but the biggest issue they face at this point is a big body taking up the middle of the line of scrimmage. If the other teams are lining up on 1st and 10 and running the football effectively, it’s because they don’t respect our rush defense. A monster in the middle would certainly help our cause.
Does that mean we’re going with Nick Fairley or Marcell Dareous first overall? Wouldn’t surprise me in the least, but that’s fodder for a different post…
On paper, the Carolina Panthers passing defense is not awful. Sure we did get smoked like a blunt at a Michael Phelps party, but we wound up 11th on the overall pass defense rankings for 2011.
But don’t let it fool you. The biggest reason we were so effective in this category is because teams had too easy a time running the football. Who needs to pass against a team who A. can’t score and B. gives up so much on the ground?
Our Safety situation is still a concern for the team. Richard Marshall and Chris Gamble have done a fine job on the corners, but can only do so much against top flight receivers. A center fielder in the secondary with some speed and a bit of pop would lock down our pass defense and allow us to put 8 in the box to stuff the run.
Panthers need a Leader – Preferably a QB
Jimmy, I’m not completely done with you yet. I want to see what you can do now that you’re a year older and a year wiser. But I gotta admit – I was all in on Andrew Luck saving this franchise. The problem of course is that the QB draft class after Andrew Luck takes a serious nose dive. Cam Newton? I just don’t see how a kid who didn’t run a pro-style offense and who had to make one, maybe two reads before delivering the football can stand in an NFL pocket and produce. Sure, you lead the Tigers to a championship, but we need a franchise QB, and I just don’t see that potential out of you, or Blaine Gabbert.
Overall the Panthers need a lot more than just these top three items, but we need to shore up the basics before we can start playing with the big boys.