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Notes from the combine

28 February 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve been watching the NFL Combine for the past two days, and I must say that there are a lot of interesting players out there who could make the Panthers a better football team down the road.

Of course, the Panthers aren’t going to draft guys just because they’re on the board when it comes time for them to pick, but they will look at a few key positions: WR, DL, QB, & TE. The most pressing needs (at least in my opinion) are at WR and DL (particularly DE). Honestly, I can picture the Panthers drafting at least two receivers in the draft, and they may even use their first two picks on receivers (assuming they don’t sign any free agents).

If you’ve read my blog in the past, you would know that recently I have campaigned for the team to draft former Cincinnati Bearcat WR Mardy Gilyard, because I think that his receiving ability is further enhanced by his contributions in the return game, and the Panthers could use a guy to return kicks – something that has been a weakness in recent years.

Below are Gilyard’s strengths and weaknesses, according to NFL.com’s scouts. (emphasis and commentary mine)

Strengths:

Gilyard is a very athletic prospect who was extremely productive in college. Is a terror in the open field with the ball in his hands after catch. Has the quickness and burst to separate from defenders when running short to intermediate routes. Is a high-character guy on the field.

Weaknesses:

Gilyard has adequate height but lacks the bulk you like to see in a starting receiver and isn’t a good blocker. Is quicker than fast and top end speed is only adequate – won’t blow by many pro DB’s. Hands are inconsistent. Makes too many body catches. (His quickness makes up for his lack of pure speed.)

Gilyard didn’t have a blazing 40 speed (4.51 unofficially, according to NFLN*), but his calling card isn’t his straight-line speed. His ability to get a quick start and make quick cuts in his routes have been the selling points for him, and he has been called “quicker than fast” by several of the analysts at the combine. He’s not going to run away from anyone, but if he has the ability to make a cornerback bite on a fake and get that extra step downfield, then straight-line speed won’t really make that much of a difference.

After seeing the few drills he has run at the combine, I still like Gilyard. I still think that he would be a great fit for the Panthers, and I haven’t seen any reason for the team to not consider adding him to the roster.

That is of course if no one else nabs him first.

* – NFL Network has been clocking 40 times unofficially for all the combine participants, and based on their commentary they have been pretty close to the official times. But, I don’t know the official times so I’m not sure how accurate they’ve been.

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Categories: Offseason Tags: ,

The Panthers will not franchise Peppers

23 February 2010 2 comments

According to the team’s Twitter page, GM Marty Hurney announced today that the franchise tag will not be applied to DE Julius Peppers. Franchising him would cost the team more than $20M this season, and Peppers was apparently unwilling to sign a long term deal (at least that’s what his agent said).

With this move, Peppers will become an unrestricted free agent and will go to the highest bidder (or whichever team offers him money – whatever the case may be). The Panthers are not expected to offer him a contract.

Hurney also announced that both DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart had successful surgeries, but it is not known if they will be available for mini-camp.

Hey Julius: Cry me a river!

16 February 2010 2 comments

I haven’t written on the Julius Peppers situation for two reasons.

1. I’ve been really busy and haven’t had much time to collect my thoughts.

2. I didn’t want to get into a lot of speculation as to what he was or wasn’t going to do.

Now, I think it’s safe to assume that he’s not coming back to Carolina, and I can honestly say that I don’t even care. Sure, he’s one of the best defensive ends when he is healthy and when he wants to play, but it’s those times when he doesn’t want to play that bother me. Peppers has a problem with giving a full effort for 16 complete games, and I can’t imagine paying someone upwards of $20M to only give 100% effort some of the time when there are plenty of other players who will bust their butts on the field and give everything they’ve got for significantly less money.

It’s just not worth the time, the money, or the hassle.

Furthermore, I am getting tired of his crybaby antics. Listen dude, we don’t want to hear your “they haven’t talked to me so I guess they don’t love me anymore” excuse. It’s called waiting to see if there’s even going to be a 2011 season before shelling out millions of dollars on one player. You know that Collective Bargaining Agreement that people keep talking about? Well, it determines how much money each team can afford to spend on players – so don’t you think that maybe the team is waiting to see if it’s worth the money to pay you? Have you not thought about that? Maybe they’re keeping their mouths shut to find out how the CBA is going to play out before signing any players to long term deals.

So Julius, please shut up with your whiny “nobody loves me anymore” crap. We don’t want to hear it. Maybe if you played your heart out on the field as much as you wear it on your sleeve during the offseason we wouldn’t even be having this problem, because the team would do whatever it takes to retain you. But, as I see it: you’re not worth the trouble.

There are 31 other teams out there, and there are surely one or two that need a defensive end and are willing to pay you the money you think you deserve. If you think you can get a better deal than the superstar treatment you have received in Carolina, then by all means go for it.

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Categories: Offseason Tags: ,

Can we please get this guy?

6 February 2010 2 comments

Every once in a while, a player comes along that you just hope and pray your team has the good sense to draft. This year, that player is Cincinnati’s much heralded WR Mardy Gilyard.

Marshawn “Mardy” Gilyard – WR, Cincinnati

Gilyard comes into the draft off of a strong performance in the 2010 Senior Bowl, where he was named the player of the game after a 103 yard, 1 touchdown performance.

Perhaps the greatest thing about Gilyard is his mindset, as shown in this interview with Scout.com, where Gilyard discusses his plans for his offseason workout program and the NFL Combine.

Gilyard (emphasis mine):

The one thing I want to show everyone at the Combine is that I’m not a 4.51 guy (laughs). I’m working on my 10- and my 20-yard dash. The guys know I’m a lighter receiver – and my weight will come through my workouts and diet – so I may end up coming into the Combine somewhere between 180 and 185. I don’t want to be heavier than that because I’ve shown I can play and be successful at the lighter weight against those bigger, heavier, stronger guys that the critics said I couldn’t compete with. My speed is the only thing I really want to work on. I’m able to get DBs on their toes fast, but I want to do it faster. I’m able to run my routes, but I want to run them faster. I’m not worried about my top speed, I just want to work on getting this motor started.

Sometimes, it’s not just about a player’s physical ability. Of course, we enjoy seeing a receiver who has explosive speed and great hands – but sometimes it’s more important to admire a player for what he has inside – the makeup of a true professional.

Here at the Panther Playbook you will see more information on Mardy Gilyard, as I have officially joined (and probably started) the “Draft Gilyard” bandwagon.

Home Sweet Home

2 February 2010 2 comments

Ahhhhh…

It feels nice to finally be moved in to my new place. The pungent smell of fresh paint still wafts in the air as I move around the new digs, and everything just looks “new”. Of course I’m over-indulging a bit – it’s just a blog, after all.

But, I’m here now. So I may as well enjoy it.

Please take note of the three page links in the upper-right section of the page. The About this Blog, Glossary of Terms, and Rules and Regulations have been moved there for your convenience.

Speaking of the glossary – if you have any suggestions for terms to be added/updated, I’m all ears.

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