Tag:Carolina
Posted on: January 11, 2011 11:00 pm
Edited on: January 11, 2011 11:53 pm
 

Judging Fairley

The Auburn Tigers won the Bowl Championship Series thanks to the play of two juniors, Heisman winning-quarterback Cam Newton and All-American defensive tackle Nick Fairley. Typically, the quarterback gets most of the credit for a win like this. But in a surprising 22-19 defensive battle, Fairley is the one being talked about the most.

His stat line of five tackles, three for loss, a sack and forced fumble is very impressive. He played a fine game on the college game's biggest stage. But despite all of the headlines and proclamations about his future as the number one pick, scouts breaking down his performance found plenty of things that need to improve before considering him a dominant NFL player.

Fairley certainly flashed the upper body and hand strength that he used all season to make 24 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks against sophomore Carson York and seniors center Jordan Holmes and guard C.E. Kaiser. Multiple times he pushed York or Kaiser aside using pure strength to reach a running back coming through the hole. On a handful of other plays, he used violent hands and quickness to swim over and swipe his man aside to penetrate into the backfield.

His most impressive play came with 10 minutes left in the third quarter. A simple but strong swipe vs. York, who got caught leaning and lost his balance, allowed Fairley attack Thomas, planting him in the ground and forcing fumble that was recovered by Oregon.

The first-team All-SEC showed versatility by playing inside or outside, depending on the situation. Hie stood up against Holmes playing the one-technique spot, walking down the line while engaged to get into plays. He did this to create traffic on the play that resulted in a safety, as well as the team's big fourth-and-one to stop Oregon from scoring on one possession in the second half.

He even showed some nimble feet dropping into coverage on zone blitzes twice during the game, though a lack of fluidity and flexibility made it tough for him to make tackles in space.

The first series of second half, showed the good and bad of Fairley's game. He exploded off the snap on one play but left tackle Bo Thran (the line's only pro prospect), stood him up then pushed him back a couple of yards. Fairley did eventually stand his ground to swallow up RB LeMichael James, who was running with his head down in traffic instead of looking for the available cutback lane. Then Fairley looked what some call a "dirty" side, turning James helmet into the dirt after the play was over, receiving a personal foul penalty.

And two of his three tackles for loss came on busted assignments. In the first half, when York thought he had passed Fairley onto the already-engaged Holmes on one play. QB Darron Thomas was a sitting duck, but got rid of the ball for an incompletion. The second TFL came when Thomas failed to read an unblocked Fairley correctly, getting planted into the turf for a red zone sack instead of handing to RB LaMichael James, who would have walked into the end zone.

NFL teams won't be running that sort of play, and Fairley shouldn't count on too many missed assignments from veteran pro linemen. York and Kaiser are also not NFL-caliber players, which scouts will also note when grading this performance.

Fairley missed a couple of opportunities to make plays in the backfield once beating his blocker because he lacks the ability to bend. In fact, he stands straight up after the snap quite often, which will cause him leverage problems against NFL linemen. He also looked inconsistent in his ability to recover from cut blocks around the line of scrimmage.

On two occasions, it looked while watching live that Fairley exploded into the backfield with impunity, but Oregon's blocking schemes had actually taken advantage of his aggressiveness to allow him through while a screen pass made big yardage -- the second time resulted in the Ducks' first touchdown for James to the left side.

Fairley's stamina will also be questioned, because although he sat out a few series, he got lazy in fourth quarter. He stood around on multiple plays, including a crucial on third-and-10 on Oregon's final touchdown drive.  He also guessed at the snap instead of reacting because he was tired, getting offsides call to put the ball on the two-yard line.

He was a non-factor on Oregon's late touchdown, and found himself on the ground for fifth time (once with help of a blitzing teammate) on the two-point conversion.


None of this changes the fact that Fairley will be a top ten pick because of his potential as a strong 4-3 defensive tackle or 3-4 five-technique. He had a very good game, using his strength and closing ability to take advantage of the opportunities Oregon gave him to make plays. It's not necessarily for a player to win every down to have a fantastic effort.

Fairley should be congratulated, and quite proud, of his play this year and his team's BCS title. Considering where the program was a couple of seasons ago, this was quite an accomplishment—and he has plenty of good tape for scouts to peruse. 

But the things I've pointed out, watching this game through scouts' eyes, must be examined when the Panthers consider him for the number one overall selection in April. Sometimes the hype surrounding a performance overwhelms the truth of what was done on the field.


As for that comparison to Ndamukong Suh: 
Early in the year, I thought maybe we'd be talking about Fairley in those terms, but the Auburn star simply does not have the consistent motor or special agility to stand side-by-side with the former Nebraska All-American if lined up by draft grade.

When at his best, Fairley could be a Kevin Williams-type difference-maker at the next level. If he lacks the penetration ability to play the three-technique like Williams, he could be a very successful Jay Ratliff-type nose tackle. But some scouts consider him a potential one-year wonder, potentially make him the next Ryan Sims.

But that's a gamble teams will be lining up to take.

--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter
Posted on: January 6, 2011 9:19 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2011 9:20 pm
 

With Luck returning, Carolina's option turn to D

While fans and media may have been stunned with Andrew Luck's announcement that he'll be returning to Stanford for at least the 2011 season, league insiders and scouts had quietly been acknowledging this possibility for weeks.

It is, some scouts have told me, the primary reason many in the NFL believe that Carolina Panthers' owner Jerry Richardson announced that if Luck would be his team's first pick had he entered the draft. Richardson was hoping, scouts suggest, that by publicly touting Luck he might convince the Cardinal redshirt sophomore quarterback into declaring early.

Now that the consensus No. 1 pick has announced his decision, however, the Panthers won't waste time worrying about their bad Luck (sorry, couldn't resist). They'll focus on the next best available players - of which there are plenty of qualified options.

The option that I (and scouts) do not expect the Panthers to strongly consider are the other quarterbacks. Missouri's Blaine Gabbert is the only junior who has announced his plans to enter the draft early, but there is a league-wide belief that Arkansas' Ryan Mallett and Auburn's Cam Newton will be joining him. These three, along with Washington's Jake Locker, comprise the four QBs scouts believe will be taken in the first round. None, however, rate nearly as highly as Luck and therefore wouldn't be a big enough improvement to consider adding to a Carolina team that spent last year's 2nd round pick on former Notre Dame standout Jimmy Clausen.

Carolina's recent draft picks serves as at least one strong reason why the team may look past Georgia wideout A.J. Green, widely considered to be the elite offensive prospect potentially available, now that Luck is returning.

The Panthers have invested heavily at wide receiver in recent years, including drafting three last year -- Brandon LaFell and Armanti Edwards with Top 100 picks (78 and 89, respectively) and David Gettis -- who led the team with three touchdowns receptions -- in the sixth round.

Carolina does have significant concerns at defensive line -- expected to be the strongest positions in this year's draft once all of the underclassmen make their intentions known.

Three defensive linemen - Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers, Alabama's Marcell Dareus and Auburn's Nick Fairley -- each possess the size, experience and upside to warrant consideration.

LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, another junior who has yet to declare his intentions, also should be in the mix. Carolina is as strong at cornerback as any position on their entire roster, but could lose veteran Richard Marshall, who is scheduled to be a free agent after this season.

With questions about the consistency and schematic fit for the defensive linemen, Peterson may be the safest - and perhaps, therefore, best - fit for Carolina with the first pick. It would be the first time in league history in which a cornerback was drafted higher than 3rd overall (as Shawn Springs was for the Seahawks in 1997), but if ever there was a corner worthy of this high of a pick it is Peterson -- who won the Thorpe and Bednarik Awards, as well as the SEC Defensive and Special Teams Player of the Year.

Posted on: January 3, 2011 12:32 pm
 

NFL releases 2011 draft order

The following is the official release from the NFL.

CAROLINA HOLDS FIRST PICK IN 2011 NFL DRAFT

The Carolina Panthers own the No. 1 pick of the 2011 National Football League Draft, which will be held on April 28-30 at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

The order of the first round of the 2011 Draft was announced today by the NFL.

The NFL Draft will kick off in primetime for the second consecutive year.  The first round will be held on Thursday, April 28.  The second and third rounds are set for Friday, April 29.  Rounds 4-7 will be held on Saturday, April 30.  

The Panthers’ choice will be followed by the Denver Broncos picking second and the Buffalo Bills third.  

Below is the tentative order of the first round of the 2011 Draft, subject to the results of the playoffs.  The draft order is determined by the following procedures:

(A)       The winner of the Super Bowl will select last and the other Super Bowl participant next-to-last, regardless of their regular-season record.

(B)       The Championship Game participants not advancing to the Super Bowl will select 29th and 30th, according to the reverse order of their standing.

(C)       The Divisional Playoff participants not advancing to the Championship Games will select 25th through 28th, according to the reverse order of their standing.

(D)       The Wild Card participants not advancing to the Divisional Playoffs will select 21st through 24th, according to the reverse order of their standing.

(E)       Non-playoff clubs will select first through 20th, according to the reverse order of their standing.

If ties exist in any grouping except (A) above, they will be broken by strength of schedule (i.e., figuring the aggregate won-lost-tied percentage of each involved club’s regular-season opponents and awarding preferential selection order to the club which faced the schedule of teams with the lowest aggregate won-lost-tied percentage).

If ties still exist after applying the strength of schedule tiebreaker, the divisional or conference tiebreakers are applied, if applicable.  If the divisional or conference tiebreakers are not applicable, ties will be broken by a coin flip.

2011 FIRST ROUND DRAFT ORDER

 

#

Team

Win

Loss

Tie

Winning Percentage

Strength of

Schedule

Opp Win

Opp Loss

Opp Tie

1.

Carolina Panthers

2

14

0

.125

.574

147

109

0

 

         

 

     

2.

Denver Broncos

4

12

0

.250

.516

132

124

0

3.

Buffalo Bills

4

12

0

.250

.578

148

108

0

4.

Cincinnati Bengals

4

12

0

.250

.582

149

107

0

 

         

 

     

5.

Arizona Cardinals

5

11

0

.313

.465

119

137

0

6.

Cleveland Browns

5

11

0

.313

.570

146

110

0

 

         

 

     

7.

San Francisco 49ers

6

10

0

.375

.488

125

131

0

8.

Tennessee Titans

6

10

0

.375

.508

130

126

0

9.

Dallas Cowboys

6

10

0

.375

.512

131

125

0

10.

Washington Redskins

6

10

0

.375

.516

132

124

0

11.

Houston Texans

6

10

0

.375

.523

134

122

0

12.

Minnesota Vikings

6

10

0

.375

.539

138

118

0

13.

Detroit Lions

6

10

0

.375

.543

139

117

0

 

         

 

     

14.

St. Louis Rams

7

9

0

.438

.449

115

141

0

15.

Miami Dolphins

7

9

0

.438

.539

138

118

0

 

 

       

 

     

16.

Jacksonville Jaguars

8

8

0

.500

.453

116

140

0

17.

Oakland Raiders

8

8

0

.500

.469

120

136

0

 

 

       

 

     

18.

San Diego Chargers

9

7

0

.563

.457

117

139

0

 

 

       

 

     

19.

New York Giants

10

6

0

.625

.453

116

140

0

20.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

10

6

0

.625

.477

122

134

0

 

 

       

 

     

21.

Seattle Seahawks*

7

9

0

.438

.484

124

132

0

 

 

       

 

     

22.

Kansas City Chiefs*

10

6

0

.625

.414

106

150

0

23.

Indianapolis Colts*

10

6

0

.625

.473

121

135

0

24.

Philadelphia Eagles*

10

6

0

.625

.492

126

130

0

25.

Green Bay Packers*

10

6

0

.625

.520

133

123

0

 

 

       

 

     

26.

New Orleans Saints*

11

5

0

.688

.469

120

136

0

27.

Chicago Bears*

11

5

0

.688

.473

121

135

0

28.

New York Jets*

11

5

0

.688

.492

126

130

0

 

 

       

 

     

29.

Baltimore Ravens*

12

4

0

.750

.484

124

132

0

30.

Pittsburgh Steelers*

12

4

0

.750

.500

128

128

0

 

 

       

 

     

31.

Atlanta Falcons*

13

3

0

.813

.484

124

132

0

 

 

       

 

     

32.

New England Patriots*

14

2

0

.875

.504

129

127

0

*- Subject to Playoffs



 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com