Panthers select Xavier Su’a-Filo with the 28th pick in the #KRM.
JPFTribe is back with to make the pick for his adopted second-favorite team (and his kids’ favorite).
Big thank you to Kanick for the invite to participate in the KRM. It has been a real learning experience reading all of the posts and comments, and will certainly make draft day far more interesting.1
I’d also like to give him the hat tip for assigning me the Panthers pick. Nineteen years ago, almost to the day, I packed up my worldly belongings, emptied my four digit bank account and made the 550 mile ride down I-77 South to Charlotte for my new job. There I met my future wife and we spent the next 15 years raising two boys who are huge Panthers fans (and so are Mom and Dad BTW).
This is a different Panthers team then when I was there. Foxey and Marty are gone, replaced by Ron Rivera and Dave Gettleman. Somewhere in an alternate universe there is an out of state blogger taking the psuedo-name of a former Panthers stalwart proclaiming Dave Gettleman is punting on the 2014 season. And he wouldn’t be far from the truth.
To be fair though, in this universe Mr. Gettleman is taking over for the anti-Heckert legacy: a talented team with a franchise quarterback that cannot manage contracts and the NFL salary cap. These issues have manifested themselves in the 2013-14 offseason. They have lost their starting safety, Mike Mitchell, and starting CB, Captain Munnerlyn to free agency. Starting wide receivers Ted Ginn, Brandon LaFell and Hakeem Nixon all left via free agency. Starting DL’s Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy account for 30M in 2014 cap space. The Panthers RB’s DeAngelo Williams, Mike Tolbert and Jonathan Stewart account for over $14M in cap space. Stewart has been hurt and has a ton of dead money that would accelerate if they cut him. They already have over $13M of dead money, $8M of which is being charged to the Giants Jon Beason.
If you are following at home, that is essentially $57M for two quality DL’s and two quality RB’s. Now to put that in perspective, the Browns ENTIRE defensive spend for 2014 is currently $58M.
Oh, and did I mention Cam Newton is coming off of ankle surgery this offseason? Cam Newton enters the fourth year of his rookie contract with an attractive $7M cap figure, but they will need to prepare for next year when his cap figure will at least double.
There also seems to be a changing of the guard with Mr. Gettleman now in charge. The 2013 offensive line consisted of 11 year tackle Jordon Gross, 10 year guard Travelle Wharton, 7 year center Ryan Kalil, 7 year guard Geoff Hangartner and the newcomers to the party 4th year tackle Byron Bell and 3rd year starter Nate Chandler. Only half of them, Kalil, Bell and Chandler, will be returning. The surprise of the bunch is Gross, announcing his retirement with a year left on his contract. Gross had an outstanding 2013 season ranked 10th in the league in pass blocking efficiency and committed one penalty all year.
Then there is the release of Steve Smith. Much has already been written on this, but I will still contribute my two pennies. I lived in Charlotte when their star running back was murdered by his wife, when their star WR had his very pregnant girlfriend murdered in her car and when their superstar WR, Mr. Steve Smith, beat the shit out of another player during film study, breaking his jaw and sending him to the hospital. The guy never played in the NFL again. Steve Smith signed a $27M contract. I was surprised Steve Smith stayed as long as he did. It seemed completely appropriate for him to take two days to sign with the Ravens where the measure of character is the quality of your legal team after indictment.
When it is all said and done, that is seven starters and two highly productive role players that are gone from the Panthers roster, with a few million in cap space to replace them.
On the plus side of the ledger, their defensive front seven is as good as it gets in the NFL. Starting center Ryan Kalil is all-pro, Nate Chandler is a third year pro at right guard and Byron Bell will likely make the switch to left tackle if needed. Greg Olsen is the only familiar target left for Cam to throw the ball to. Jerrico Cotchery signed in the off season as a FA. Finally, they are loaded at running back, albeit expensive ones.
This team doesn’t have needs, it has moonshot craters to fill. And Gettleman only has one rocket shot to get there, the draft. He does not have cap room to address it otherwise.
It will be crucial for Gettleman to draft players in rounds 1 and 2 that can be starters immediately. They cannot afford 1-2 year development projects, especially on the offensive line where mistakes can cost you your already hobbled franchise QB. IMO, the biggest holes that they will look to fill in round 1 are OT, WR, CB and OG. Unfortunately, the top OT and CB candidates are already gone.
Cyrus Kouandjio – OT Alabama
Per NFL.com – Massive, long-limbed, inconsistent, overhyped college left tackle whose sheer dimensions, raw tools and high ceiling are far more appealing than his snap-to-snap performance at this stage of his development. Has enough length and anchor strength to survive on the left side, though he will never be a dancing bear, and he projects more ideally as a bulldozing right tackle in a power scheme.
This is consistent with most pundits I have read, and dead on with the Tucker / Cosell podcast. Seems risky to me.
Kelvin Benjiman – WR Florida St
Not just big, but huge WR. 83” wingspan, 6’5” 240. Lacks elite speed. Huge upside potential, but a lot of fundamentals that are not sound and will have to be drilled / taught.
Donte Moncrief – WR Mississippi
This is the guy I have had my eye on since day one of the KRM. If he somehow winds up in an Orange helmet, I would be a very happy guy. 6’2”, 4.4 speed, good route runner, junior eligible wideout. He gets open, makes big catches, knows where the chains are and doesn’t get caught from behind. Has had some big drops and had 6 games under 60 yards, so not without downside. This guy looks a lot like the 6’1”, 212 lb, junior eligible Hakeem Nicks, the last 1st round WR pick Dave Gettleman’s Giants made at the 29th position.
Xavier Su’a-Filo – OG UCLA
Physically gifted athlete. Has played LT as well as LG at UCLA, but struggled at tackle and does not project as an LT. Excellent football intelligence, good footwork, could use more strength. This is likely the best sure bet, but do you take a guard in round 1? At 28, yes I think you do. The last Gettleman / Giants OG draft choice was Chris Snee, 2004, taken with the 34th pick.
The BPA – CJ Mosley
Gettleman went on record this offseason stating he would take the best player available:
“… the whole purpose of this is to put yourself into a position so that when the draft comes, you can take the best player …. Because when you get into trouble is when you reach for need. That’s when you get into trouble.”
It is hard to argue against Mosley being the BPA on the board. There is a case to be made to play him at weak side LB as Thomas Davis has limited shelf life on the strong side. However, the last time the Giants drafted a linebacker in the first round was to pair Carl Banks with LT. In the last 25 years, they have drafted two LB’s in Round 2. With the holes they have on offense, cap problems and likely value they place on the position, I don’t see this happening.
Players off the board:
Gettleman would love for Zack Martin to fall to him, but that just won’t happen. They have worked out all of the receivers taken in the KRM so far and would have Lee, Cooks and Beckham ranked highly (in that order IMO). They would take a long look at Fuller or Roby, but after that, no other CB in the first round.
If we want insight into Gettleman’s draft philosophy, then we have to go to his days as Giants Director of Pro Personnel. There is a good article here that provides some insights. Basically the picks will be from BCS schools and will be DL, DB, WR and OL in that order of likelihood. The Giants’ history shows they do like to take DL and DB in the first round. They will go skill players though with Eli Manning, Jeremy Shockey, David Wilson and Hakeem Nicks as examples.
In the end, the choices seem to be taking a guy that can protect Cam, or someone he can throw the ball to, and there are legitimate options for both. A case can be made for taking Cyrus here. That scenario involves moving Bell to LT, which is a project, and starting a rookie RT who is making the switch from LT in college. It can be done, but there is a lot of risk here. A more likely scenario would ease him into the role in the second half of the season at best. If they think they can coach him up, I see this as the most likely pick for them if he is there.
I really like Moncrief, and he fills a big need. But if Cam is running for his life or flat on his back, it really doesn’t matter who is running routes. This is a deep WR draft with legitimate alternatives in round 2 /3. If they think they have answers for the OL in rounds 2-4, they can make this pick.
Su’a Filo is the least sexy pick, but could be an All-Pro guard protecting Cam’s left side for many years and will start right away (a la Snee). Maybe he has enough upside to play LT someday, but having the Guard spot covered for years by the 28th pick is a good result for the Panthers.
Panthers select – Xavier Su’a-Filo – Guard – UCLA
Well done JP.
Up next is Bluedog93 and the Pats.
- Big thank you back to you Jim and all the mockers. It’s been a terrific series if I do say so myself. [back]