Tag:Carolina Panthers
Posted on: November 2, 2011 4:09 pm
 

Phil Simms not alone in calling Luck overrated

Former Super Bowl MVP and CBS' analyst Phil Simms made waves yesterday with his proclamation that Andrew Luck was being "hype[d] a little too much" and that he didn't see "big time NFL throws" from the Stanford redshirt junior quarterback.

By ranking Luck as the top prospect I've seen in 12 years of scouting, obviously I disagree.

Simms isn't the only one who has concerns about Luck, however.

During the Stanford-Southern Cal game I spent about 45 minutes talking to a high level scout who also had reservations about the Stanford quarterback.

The scout began the conversation about Luck by asking my assessment of Luck's arm strength. I told him that I did not believe that arm strength was Luck's greatest asset, but that having scouted Luck in person and off of video I believed him to have plenty of zip on the ball to make every NFL throw. I also pointed out that Luck's anticipation and accuracy -- arguably his two best features -- more than made up for a lack of a howitzer for a right arm.

The scout agreed that Luck's anticipation and accuracy "were what make him special" but used April's No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton as a comparison to drive a point home about how much Luck has been over-hyped thus far.

"I'm not so sure that after scouting each of these guys closely that some scouts wouldn't favor Newton over Luck," the scout said. "Newton is so much more of a physical specimen. He's bigger, stronger, faster and has a gun. Luck, for all of the things he does have, doesn't have an arm like that. I think the perception is that Carolina would have taken Luck in a heart beat over Newton. Maybe they would have. But I think it would be a closer call than most people think based on the hype."

Newton's instant and continued success in the NFL has taken many of us by surprise, so I asked the scout if perhaps this fact wasn't clouding his comments. He chuckled and acknowledged the quality work that the Carolina Panthers (specifically offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski) had done in adapting his offense to tailor to Newton's strengths, but also pointed out that "talent is talent and when you've got a lot of it, a little coaching can go a long way."

"The reality is, Luck is a pretty special talent, but he's not Superman. I don't know that anyone could be as good as the hype he's getting right now." 

Posted on: September 14, 2011 10:45 am
Edited on: September 14, 2011 10:49 am
 

Cam brilliant vs. AZ; faces stiffer test with GB

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has received a great deal of praise for his astonishing NFL debut, but before we start engraving his name on the Rookie of the Year Trophy just yet, let's see what he does for an encore.

Newton completed 24 of 37 passes for 422 yards -- the most any rookie quarterback has even thrown in their first NFL game.

As expected, he kept the Arizona defense honest with his legs, but it was the accuracy and command of the offense that he showed that caught the Cardinals off-guard. Newton's poise down the stretch was very impressive. So too, was his focus on the big picture following the game. Newton didn't want to talk about his record-breaking performance. Instead, demonstrating the leadership qualities that teammates at Auburn had praised him for, Newton focused on the need to improve and the disappointment of the 28-21 loss.

"The last time I lost a game was Navarro Junior College," Newton told reporters following the game. "What do you want me to say, it feels great? It is not a comfortable feeling for me."

"There's going to be a lot more things I can look back on tomorrow after I watch the film," Newton said. "One thing I know is you have to capitalize. When you're in the red zone, you can't take the sack, you can't digress."

Now, for all of the great things Newton demonstrated against the Cardinals, it is only fair to point out the generally shabby play by the Arizona defense. On many occasions, Newton was throwing to wide open targets.

Rookie cornerback Patrick Peterson was victimized on several occasions (though he provided what turned out to be the game-winning score on an 89-yard punt return in the 4th quarter). Peterson lined up against Steve Smith for much of the day and was beaten for Smith's second touchdown of the day (26 yards). Earlier in the game, Smith got behind Pro Bowl safety Adrian Wilson for the 77-yard score that was Newton's first score as a professional quarterback.

The Cardinals, of course, were without their best cornerback of the past several years after trading Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to the Philadelphia Eagles as part of a package to land their own new quarterback, Kevin Kolb.

The defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers will give Newton a much stiffer test Sunday. Though obviously the brilliance of Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers and NFL Defensive Player of the Year runner-up Clay Matthews were huge reasons for Green Bay's success last season, the strong play from the Packers' defensive backfield played a critical role in securing the Lombardi Trophy. While the Philadelphia Eagles possess the "dream team" combination of Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel and the aforementioned Rodgers-Cromartie, for my money, the Packers' Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields is every bit as treacherous.

And after Newton's stunning debut, the trio will certainly be taking the rookie quarterback seriously.

One silver lining for Newton, his own confidence -- and that of teammates, coaches and Carolina fans -- should be high heading into this weekend's home opener.
Posted on: July 29, 2011 12:23 pm
 

Panthers got a steal in veteran TE Olsen

The opening days of the NFL's free agency/trade "season" has led to several brow-raising moves from clubs. Whether it be the Seahawks choosing Tarvaris Jackson over Matt Hasselbeck, the Chargers giving up a Pro Bowl contract to safety Eric Weddle or the release of several starting caliber players by various teams, there have been plenty of surprises already.

One of the more interesting ones happened yesterday when the Chicago Bears traded away former first round pick Greg Olsen to the Carolina Panthers for a third round selection in the 2012 draft.

Olsen, 6-6 and 254 pounds and having been timed at 4.51 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the 2007 Scouting Combine is one of the league's most physically gifted tight ends. His statistics won't show it. After all, he's averaged only 10.2 yards per catch over his career and his "breakout" 2009 season (60 catches for 612 yards and eight TDs) resulted in nearly double the touchdowns as any other season of his career. While only an average blocker, his size, speed and secure hands would have resulted in a Pro Bowl nod or two already had he been in an offense that catered to him.

Now, he's going to one that will.

This trade had everything to do with scheme. The Bears run a multiple-receiver offense under offensive coordinator Mike Martz. It is the same offense that Martz ran to great success in St. Louis (and considerably less so in Detroit). The scheme didn't put Olsen (or any tight end, really) in position to be a significant part of the team's passing attack.

The Carolina Panthers, on the other hand, are incorporating former San Diego Chargers' tight ends coach Rob Chudzinski's offense. Chudzinski, you might recall, had the benefit of working with Antonio Gates, so it is safe to say that he understands the value of a mismatch of an athletic tight end.

But, that isn't the end of the Chudzinski-tight end connection. Prior to his NFL gigs (including being the offensive coordinator under Romeo Crennel with the Cleveland Browns), Chudzinski was the offensive coordinator at the University of Miami where he coached All-Americans Bubba Franks, Jeremy Shockey and Kellen Winslow II. Chudzinski left Miami the year before Olsen arrived at The U.

Considering their strong running game, deep threat in Steve Smith and young quarterbacks in Cam Newton and Jimmy Clausen, the Carolina Panthers appear to be an ideal fit for Olsen. The young passers have been given a Pro Bowl caliber security blanket and the Panthers gave up just a third round pick to get him.

With the exorbitant prices of free agency, player trades being seen this week, Olsen could prove the best value thus far this year.
Posted on: May 3, 2011 8:35 pm
 

Finding the Fits -- The Quarterbacks


Over the next two weeks I will be highlighting a different position each day in an attempt to Find the Fit -- identifying 2011 prospects who are a particularly good schematic fits for the club that selected him. I'll also highlight one player per position who I believe could struggle in his new NFL role. Too often in the past rookies who have struggled in the NFL have done so because they were simply drafted into schemes that didn't fit their individual strengths.

Considering their importance to the game and the number of high profile passers who went early in the 2011 Draft, I'm starting off with the quarterbacks.

Players are listed alphabetically, not in the order in which I see their fit with their respective teams.

Good Fits:

Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers:
I will be the first to admit that I have not been as high on Kaepernick as many others are, but there is no denying that he was drafted into an ideal scenario with the 49ers and head coach Jim Harbaugh. Kaepernick has rare physical tools, as well as the intelligence and work ethic to be successful. Kaepernick's elongated throwing motion, however, is a concern of mine. I had reservations about it and know that some teams did too. I believe that when a club asks a quarterback to significantly alter their throwing motion it lessens the likelihood of the quarterback ever having success, which is one of the reasons why Kaepernick's fit with an NFL team was so important. The 49ers and Harbaugh, however, don't appear concerned with the hitch in his delivery . Harbaugh is widely credited with developing Andrew Luck's natural talents and preaches an offense that spreads the field and occassionally allows the quarterback the freedom to run -- all of which bode well for the former Nevada passer. Perhaps best of all, as a 2nd round pick, Kaepernick might be afforded the luxury of time to develop.

Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans: Assuming the Titans re-sign veteran Kerry Collins or add another veteran quarterback, Locker is in a position to succeed. Though a four-year starter at UW, he is not yet ready to make the jump into the NFL, as only his final two seasons were in a pro-style offense. His time spent at Washington under then-head coach Tyrone Willingham, was essentially spent as a running back taking snaps from center -- just as it was for him in high school. However, Locker has shown improvement in his technique since the season, leading many to believe that he is just scratching the surface of his potential. Furthermore, he is a nice fit in this scheme. Think about what the Titans do well... They feature the ultra-athletic Chris Johnson on the stretch play. A quarterback capable of bootlegs and play-action off of Johnson's runs will be successful.

Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings: While many jumped on the Christian Ponder bandwagon following the Senior Bowl or the Combine, I've been touting the FSU passer for quite some time and believe that he was the most pro-ready passer in this draft. It doesn't surprise me, quite frankly, that Minnesota head coach Leslie Frazier believes Ponder could be his opening day starter. Ponder has the intelligence to pick up Bill Musgrave's offense quickly, especially since many of Musgrave's West Coast Offensive principles tie in with what Ponder played with at FSU. Though Ponder doesn't have a big arm, his short to intermediate level accuracy, touch down the seam, and confidence in play-action make him a good schematic fit for the Vikings' run-heavy attack and focus on quick screens to take advantage of Percy Harvin's unique talent.

Questionable Fit:

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers: Okay, you may have seen this coming, considering the fact that many have concerns about how well the No. 1 overall pick will be able to transition from a spread-option offense that was so perfectly suited to his wonderful athletic tools to Rob Chudzinski's multiple-formation, vertical-passing attack. I have no doubt that the Panthers already have a plan in place to cater their offense around Newton's unique skill-set, but this is a complicated scheme for any quarterback to master, much less a rookie. I do not have the concerns about intelligence or leadership that some others seem to have about Newton. I understand the physical comparisonst to Vince Young, but believe the mental toughness Newton demonstrated in fighting through all of the off-field distractions this season more than prove his ability to focus on game-day. I also like the talent around Newton in Carolina -- along the offensive line, running back and at receiver. I just have real reservations about any passer with only one year of starting experience at the D-I level making the jump to the NFL... and unlike the other players mentioned in this post, Newton won't have the luxury of time. The high price and attention of the No. 1 overall pick will almost certainly force the Panthers to play him immediately.
Posted on: April 28, 2011 7:00 pm
 

Some talk Gabbert could slide

Speaking with NFL sources over the past few hours and one of the more interesting tidbits floating around is that Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert could slip.

Once viewed as a possible No. 1 overall pick to the Carolina Panthers, some suggest Gabbert could fall past Buffalo (No. 3), Cincinnati (No. 4), Arizona (No. 5), San Francisco (No. 7), and Tennessee (No. 8) -- despite the fact that each club could use a quarterback.

Quite frankly, while the rumor is interesting, I don't buy it. I have Gabbert going No. 7 overall to the 49ers . My fellow senior analyst Chad Reuter has him going even higher -- 3rd overall.

Even if Gabbert slips a bit, I can't imagine him falling out of the top ten. I've been told that Washington head coach Mike Shanahan and his son, Kyle Shanahan -- the Redskins' offensive coordinator, love the Missouri passer's combination of size, arm and athleticism. Should Gabbert slip to the Redskins, he'd jump ahead of other needs, like wide receiver and pass rusher. 

The greater point might be how Gabbert's fall -- should it happen -- would impact the rest of the QB class and how they, too, might slip as a result.
Posted on: April 25, 2011 8:00 pm
 

Carolina Panthers Draft Preview

Carolina Panthers 2010 record: 2-14, fourth place NFC South

2011 draft rundown - Eight total picks (round): 1 (1); 65 (3); 97 (3); 98 (4); 132 (5); 166 (6); 203 (7); 244 (7)

Top needs:   

Quarterback: The Panthers finished last passing in 2010, so it doesn't take much to figure out their biggest need this offseason. In fact, even new coach Ron Rivera has come out and said his team's biggest goal is finding a franchise quarterback.

Defensive tackle: The Panthers have an equally pressing need on the other side of the ball at defensive tackle entering this year's NFL draft. Last year, the Panthers rotated Derek Landri, Nick Hayden and Ed Johnson in at the defensive tackle spots. All three might be considered decent role players, but none are exceptional and might not start for many other teams around the league.

Wide receiver: Yes, the Panthers drafted three wide receivers last year, including two in the third round in Brandon LaFell and Armanti Edwards and one in the sixth in David Gettis. But if the team decides to trade unhappy veteran Steve Smith, which is a possibility, they will need to replenish this position with a top-end talent.

Cornerback: Richard Marshall has said he doesn't think he'll be back and fellow starter Chris Gamble (who is owed $6 million) is coming off a poor season in which he was benched.


First-round focus   1st overall -- The Carolina Panthers are widely expected to select quarterback Cam Newton with the top overall pick, but some believe the team is struggling to come to grips with the thought of investing the first pick on a player with only one season of starting experience at the BCS level. It is easy to understand why the Panthers might be tempted by some of the other players in this draft class. Alabama defensive Marcell Dareus, LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson and Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green also play positions of need and are widely viewed as considerably safer prospects. North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn could prove a Pro Bowl caliber pass rusher -- something the Panthers could use considering their loss last year of free agent Julius Peppers -- and would be a popular selection given his close regional ties, as well. Ultimately, however, the way to improve in the NFL is to improve at the quarterback position. Considering the relative talent of the other quarterbacks in the NFC South division (Atlanta, New Orleans, Tampa Bay), the only way for the Carolina Panthers to realistically get back into contention for the divisional crown, they need improved play at quarterback. Newton is a gamble, but his 51 touchdowns against SEC competition and poise both on and off the field in driving Auburn to the BCS Championship, is the stuff of legend. At this point, it would be an upset if Carolina selected anyone other than Newton with the first pick -- though with no second round selection and holes throughout the roster, they'll be working the phones to the last second in an effort to trade down.

Five names on Panthers' board:   
QB Cam Newton, Auburn
QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama
CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina

Posted on: March 25, 2011 7:07 pm
Edited on: March 26, 2011 3:24 pm
 

NFL announces 32 compensatory picks

The NFL announced today that 32 compensatory picks have been awarded to 23 teams for the 2011 draft. The complete pick-by-pick draft order can be seen here.

Under the rules for compensatory draft selections, a team losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory draft picks .

The number of picks a team receives equals the net loss of compensatory free agents up to a maximum of four.  The 32 compensatory choices announced today will supplement the 221 choices in the seven round draft, giving the 2011 draft 253 selections total.

Compensatory picks cannot be traded.

The Carolina Panthers, due to the free agent loss of Julius Peppers (and quarterback A.J. Feeley) was rewarded with the highest compensatory pick this year. They were given a 3rd round selection, No. 97 overall. The Panthers also received the most picks total, earning three more selections.

The Baltimore Ravens, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers and Tennessee Titans each received two compensatory picks.

Here are the totals:

 

ROUND CHOICE /

 

ROUND

OVERALL SELECTION

TEAM

3

33-97

 

Carolina

4

33-130

 

Tennessee

 

34-131

 

Green Bay

5

33-164

 

Baltimore

 

34-165

 

Baltimore

6

33-198

 

New York Giants

 

34-199

 

Kansas City

 

35-200

 

Minnesota

 

36-201

 

San Diego

 

37-202

 

New York Giants

 

38-203

 

Carolina

7

33-233

 

San Diego

 

34-234

 

Miami

 

35-235

 

Minnesota

 

36-236

 

Philadelphia

 

37-237

 

Tampa Bay

 

38-238

 

San Francisco

 

39-239

 

Philadelphia

 

40-240

 

Oakland

 

41-241

 

Seattle

 

42-242

 

New Orleans

 

43-243

 

Carolina

 

44-244

 

Buffalo

 

45-245

 

Cincinnati

 

46-246

 

Denver

 

47-247

 

Cleveland

 

48-248

 

Arizona

 

49-249

 

San Francisco

 

50-250

 

Tennessee

 

51-251

 

Dallas

 

52-252

 

Washington

 

53-253

 

Houston

 

 



Posted on: March 21, 2011 11:31 am
 

Big surprise - Panthers focusing on QBs for No. 1

Just as he did during the Combine, Panthers' head coach Ron Rivera has highlighted a group of eight prospects for the No. 1 overall pick.

He cited three quarterbacks among those prospects -- Auburn's Cam Newton, Missouri's Blaine Gabbert and, perhaps surprisingly, Arkansas' Ryan Mallett.

Though there are another five players potentially in play for the top pick -- presumably defensive linemen Marcell Dareus, Da'Quan Bowers and Nick Fairley, cornerback Patrick Peterson and wide receiver A.J. Green -- the Panthers' focus seems pretty intent on finding another quarterback to compete with (and potentially replace) incumbent starter Jimmy Clausen, at least according to a report from Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer.

Person notes that the Panthers "could go after" one of the five "other" picks in the draft, but only if "If the Panthers decide to bring in a veteran quarterback through a trade or free agency, assuming the lockout is resolved early enough."

Clearly, Person believes that the Panthers are acknowleding that quarterback is the number one priority and will be addressed. 

Person quotes Rivera as saying, “We have a number of positions that we've identified as needs. We're trying to get to that point where we can start filling those needs as the time is appropriate,” Rivera said. “If you can fill a need through free agency, we're going to do it. If we have to go through the draft, we'll do it. If we've got to make a trade, we'll do it.”

Should Carolina find a way to add a veteran quarterback, which is, of course, impossible until a new CBA is agreed to, the Panthers have options with the first pick.

If not, they'll be choosing between Newton and Gabbert with their first pick.

Regardless of what Rivera is saying publicly, Mallett is very much fighting just to stay in the first round, according to multiple sources inside the league,  much less contend for No. 1 overall honors.

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