In the NFL they say you don’t draft for need. Tell that to Carolina Panthers GM Gettleman who keeps giving his head coach what the team needs.
After drafting DT Vernon Butler in the first round reinforcing a strength of the team versus addressing any perceived deficiency the club spent the next three draft picks on cornerbacks. For good reason.
After making the financial decision to let All Pro CB Josh Norman walk, the team had to address the CB position via the draft and CBA capped, rookie contracts. If the team could have afforded to wreck their salary structure via the cost of a top flight CB in free agency they would have signed Norman. They couldn’t, they didn’t.
Instead the team looked pragmatically at the problem and focused on two facts. The 2016 NFL Draft happened to be fairly deep at the CB position. The more picks you spend on a position the better your chances of getting a hit versus a miss.
Round two – CB James Bradberry – 6’1″ 211 lbs Samford Southern 4.50 40 yard dash
Round three – CB Daryl Worley – 6’1″ 204 lbs West Virginia 4.64 40 yard dash
Round five – CB Zack Sanchez – 5’11” 185 lbs Oklahoma 4.48 40 yard dash
Three rounds. Three Players. One position. All of them tall, rangy, physical press coverage guys who can tackle. All have upside with fifth rounder Sanchez having perhaps the highest ceiling. Rookie Josh Norman clones all.
Panthers HC Ron Rivera is not only a superior defensive coach, he’s a top flight teacher. You need look no further than former fifth round pick and current All-Pro Washington CB Josh Norman for proof. The CB used his former coaches tutelage to maximum effect on game day.
Make no doubt about it, Norman earned his stripes and deserves credit for his skill set and his contract. However it would be foolish not to acknowledge how Norman got there. Relying on a similar approach times three to solve the issue of Josh’s departure is smart football.
The Carolina Panthers will miss Josh Norman. He is an elite talent that will have a solid front seven in front of him with his new team giving him a semblance of the pressure he used to great advantage with Carolina. Yet the Panthers will (again) be competing for the NFC South crown in 2016. The new rookie CB troika will have a decided advantage playing behind a proven dominant front that got stronger this year and will be playing for one of the best teachers and head coaches in the league.
Look for Norman to struggle this year in Washington compared to last season in Carolina while the three rookies will improve and one of them will step up. It’s all about the odds and Gettleman left the Panthers holding three golden tickets for 2016. Well done.
What say you Sports Nation?
Another Left Coast Sports Post: on Twitter – Steven Van Over