Well, the draft has came and went. All of that waiting is over and fans finally know what players Carolina wanted. Over the last few weeks, 4 Man Rush has kept you up to date on all of the players that Carolina has met with. It’s given fans an idea of the players that the team was interested in. The first three picks were pretty easy to figure out, as they were the most visited of all the prospects for the Panthers. This is going to be a quick overview of the players that Carolina selected in this year’s draft.
Pick 16. OLB/DE Brian Burns
Brian Burns stated early into the process that Carolina had shown him the most interest, per Jonathan Jones of Sports Illustrated. Carolina met with Burns at Florida State’s pro day. They also had Burns in for a top 30 private visit. There have been rumors that Carolina will be using more 3-4 looks during this upcoming season. This pick signifies the tweak in philosophy. Burns brings speed to the edge rush. He simply outruns his blockers and gets into the backfield. Burns is going to be an immediate playmaker in this defense. He has elite athleticism, bend, get-off, lateral quickness and flexibility, which will translate well into the NFL. He’s really good at creating pressure. This was the perfect pick for Carolina, as they’ve needed youth and speed in their defense for a couple of years.
On a more personal note, Burns’ brother, Stanley McClover, was drafted by the Panthers in the seventh round of the 2006 NFL Draft. Burns loves Marvel Comics. More specifically, he loves Spider-Man. At FSU, Burns would often do Spider-Man celebrations after making a play.
One of the question marks about Burns prior to the combine was his skinny frame. He played last season at 235 pounds. At the next level, a 6’5 235 pound defensive end probably isn’t going to run through elite 300 pound offensive linemen. After the season, Burns met with a nutritionist every day to bulk up. He admitted that it was hard, but he knew he’d need to pack on some weight. After all the hard work, Burns weighed in at 249 pounds at the combine. Scouts took notice, and Burns was placed atop of Carolina’s draft board. It’s nice when things work out.
Pick Grade: A
Pick 37. OT Greg Little
Little was also pretty easy to pick out as a favorite by the Panthers. Carolina spoke with Little at the combine and his pro day, where he impressed them. So much so, that they held a workout for him and also brought him in for a top 30 visit. The Panthers loved Little so much, that they were considering drafting him at pick 16 if Brian Burns wasn’t there. When the draft made it to pick 22, Marty Hurney was on the phone trying to trade back into the first round to get their left tackle of the future. Teams wanted too much in return, so Hurney didn’t pull the trigger. That turned out to be a blessing, as the first round closed out with four the top tackles on the board. One of which was Little, who Carolina coveted. On day two, Carolina knew they had to trade up to get a top tackle, so Hurney offered picks 47 and 77 to Seattle to move up to pick 37. Hurney did give up more than he wanted, but it’s what he needed to do to get his guy. He was trying to trade picks 47 and 100, but Seattle wouldn’t budge. If Little turns out to be a stud at left tackle for the next ten years, this trade will look like a steal.
Little’s forte is pass protection, which Carolina needs on the left side. At Ole Miss, Little only allowed 26 pressures and 3 sacks in 993 snaps, which is pretty amazing. He has the athleticism needed to play in the Panthers’ offense and is very agile for someone his size. He’s a natural bender with elite lateral quickness. He has the desired foot speed needed to be an NFL left tackle. He needs to become a better run blocker, but that’s easily taught. John Matsko is one of the best offensive line coaches in the league, and he also has the help of former Panthers offensive lineman Travelle Wharton. Fans don’t need to be worried about Little’s run blocking, as it just needs a small tweak. All in all, this was the perfect fit for Carolina, as they put an emphasis on protecting Cam Newton’s blindside.
Little was born in Texas in 1997, and weighed 11 pounds 2 ounces. Coming out of high school, Little was a five star recruit, ranked second behind defensive end, Rashan Gary. He has football bloodlines, as his father played college football at South Carolina and was drafted by the Buccaneers in 1989. He’s known to be a shy, soft spoken guy off the field. On the field, Little is known to be a leader and good locker room guy. Little will give the Panthers an instant upgrade at the left tackle position. This pick likely means that Daryl Williams will make the move to left guard, since Taylor Moton played lights out at right tackle last season.
Pick Grade: A-
Pick 100: QB Will Grier
This was another easy call to make, since Carolina used virtually every avenue to meet with Grier. Carolina met with him at the combine, pro day, local day and also met with him for dinner. At Grier’s pro day workout, Norv Turner was seemingly swooning over Grier, which we saw him doing last year when he was courting DJ Moore.
There’s no doubt that Grier is a good quarterback prospect. He’s known for making clutch throws and being a leader in the locker room. He’s good at deciphering defenses and making pre-snap adjustments. There aren’t many throws that Grier can’t make and the vast majority are made with precise accuracy. He has all of the intangibles that teams look for in a back up quarterback, and is a good candidate to be groomed for an eventual replacement for Cam once he retires. He isn’t going to push Cam out of the number one spot, since Cam is still a top ten quarterback in the NFL. A few talking heads have stated otherwise, but it isn’t happening. At this point, Grier isn’t ready to be the full time starter for the Panthers. He is, however, ready to beat out Kyle Allen as the backup.
Grier is from the Charlotte area and grew up a Panthers fan, so this is a dream come true for him. He went to Davidson Day School in Davidson, NC. As a junior, he threw for 837 yards in one game. As a senior he had 4,989 yards passing and a nation-leading 77 touchdowns, which was also a North Carolina record. He also rushed for 1,251 yards for 13 touchdowns. He was named a Parade All-American and also Mr. Football USA.
When pick 100 rolled around on Friday night, Carolina had other needs besides quarterback. Safety was the main position that fans were clamoring for. There were still two starting quality safeties on the board, but ultimately, Carolina felt that backup quarterback was a bigger need. Plus, the two safeties that were left were too similar to Eric Reid. There are rumors swirling that Carolina will sign a safety in the second phase of free agency, and the fact that they didn’t pick one in the draft shows that this could be true. Bottom line is, this was Hurney’s guy. The board fell exactly the way they wanted it to and it paid off. Grier is a nice insurance policy for Cam, just in case his shoulder has a setback. Grier could come in and succeed with the weapons that Carolina has given the offense. Let’s be clear….a healthy Cam is still the starter over Grier. Overall, this pick wasn’t the first choice for fans, but could be a value pick if he turns into the eventual starter after Cam retires.
Pick Grade: B-
Pick 115: OLB/DE Christian Miller
As pick 115 rolled around, the consensus fan pick would’ve been a safety, but the safeties that were left didn’t have the value that Christian Miller did. Carolina wanted to inject youth and speed into their pass rush, and that’s what they did. Miller is a first round talent that struggled with injuries and was behind a talented linebacker Corp at Alabama. This should’ve been easy for fans to figure out too, since the Panthers used a top 30 private visit on Miller. In Marty Hurney’s post-draft press conference, he said that him and Coach Rivera had been taking about Miller for a long time. He also said that he was shocked that Miller made it to the fourth round. Most fans should’ve been shocked. Miller is an absolute steal at pick 115.
Miller is a good pass rusher with elite get off and speed. He has solid lateral quickness and pursuit speed. He uses his long arms well, as he knocks the ball down at the line of scrimmage regularly. Christian has good bend and has an array of pass rush moves. He’s a really smart kid with a high football IQ. He can decipher a play with ease, despite not having a lot of playing time in college. He’s very good at dropping back into coverage. He is a natural leader and known for being a good teammate and hard worker. He will fit perfectly in this defense, no matter what look Carolina gives.
Miller also has football in his blood. His father, linebacker Corey Miller, was a nine year veteran in the NFL for the Giants and Vikings. Corey played an integral part in helping Christian become a pass rusher. Miller was born in Columbia, South Carolina. He played at Spring Valley High School and was a four-star recruit. He had some hamstring issues in college that hampered his playing time, but he says that it is fully healed and he’s ready to go. Miller is a player that fans should be really excited about, because he has the potential to be a special player in the NFL.
Pick Grade: A-
Pick 154: RB Jordan Scarlett
Throughout the pre-draft process, Marty Hurney continued to state that they’d like to get a running back that has the same skill set as starter Christian McCaffrey. That’s why the Scarlett pick is somewhat of a surprise. Scarlett is more of a bruising back, despite his size. He spends a lot of time lifting weights and can bench press 465 pounds. He has the foot quickness that is coveted by teams and keeps his feet moving throughout contact to get extra yardage. He has quick acceleration and smoothly changes direction. He’s a bruising back that will break tackles every time he has the ball in his hands. Speaking of hands, his are dreadful in the passing game. He offers little third down value based on his lack of receiving ability.
Scarlett has also had some character issues. As a freshman in 2015, he missed a bowl game due to misdemeanor marijuana charges. In 2017, he was suspended for credit card fraud. Carolina must feel like that lifestyle is behind him, because they wouldn’t draft a guy who has that many character concerns. There’s little doubt that the leaders in Carolina will help Scarlett stay out of trouble.
Scarlett went to St. Aquinas High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. He was the 2014 class 8A-7A-6A Player of the Year. He also helped the team win a state championship that same year. He was named to the 2014 Class 7-A All State First Team. He also played in the US All-American Bowl Game in San Antonio, Texas. At Florida, he ran 344 times for 1,846 yards and 12 touchdowns in three seasons. He spent the entire 2017 suspended and away from the team. So he still has a lot of tread on his tires and should be a nice compliment to Christian McCaffrey. Even though Carolina just re-signed Cameron Artis-Payne, look for Scarlett to push him out of the back-up role. Scarlett plays with solid speed and power. He’s going to be a nice piece in this offense.
Pick Grade: C+
Pick 212: OT Dennis Daley
Carolina traded pick 187 to Denver for picks 212 and 237. At 212, the Panthers decided to jump at another offensive lineman that will likely be a back-up to fellow rookie, Greg Little. Daley was originally pegged as a fourth or fifth round prospect, so Marty Hurney was thrilled to get him in the sixth round. After being drafted, Daley stated that he would play left guard (or any other position) if the coaches ask him to. It’s not likely that Daley will start in year one, barring injury. He could get his chance next year, when former All-Pro Daryl Williams likely goes to another team via free agency.
Daley has some upside as a tackle but he’s pretty raw right now. Although, he’s actually pretty solid in both pass blocking and run blocking. If you’re power rushing up the middle, good luck. You’re not getting to Cam. That’s Daley’s specialty. There are some things technique wise that he needs to improve on, such as footwork, but John Matsko is the offensive line whisperer, so expect Daley to improve each year. There’s a lot to like about his run blocking too. Multiple run schemes at South Carolina showed that Daley can do almost anything in the run game, and he does it with fierce intensity. He needs to improve his pad level and leverage in the run game, but has the frame and build that NFL teams covet in tackles. He definitely needs to improve on some areas, but learning from Matsko, Moton and Williams should help mold him into a serviceable left tackle or possibly left guard. He’s also known for being a leader and fierce competitor. There’s a lot to like about the potential of this guy.
Daley went to Ridge View High School in Columbia, South Carolina. The first two years of Daley’s college career were spent at Georgia Military College. In his sophomore season there, he earned first-team All-American honors. Daley has said that it was the hardest two years of his life, but also the most rewarding. It taught him to be more disciplined and motivated him to be better. He then transferred to The University of South Carolina, where he almost immediately became a starter at left tackle. As a junior and senior, he’d start 23 of 24 games at left tackle. The Panthers doubled down at the tackle position, which was a smart move, given the current state of the left tackle spot. The fact that they got Daley so late, should give fans hope for the future.
Pick Grade: B+
Pick 237: WR Terry Godwin
When pick 237 came around, Hurney picked a wide receiver that he met with at the Shrine Bowl. Godwin would be a solid slot receiver for the Panthers in a year or two if he works hard. Godwin runs crisp routes and gets separation. Has consistent play speed and soft hands. Godwin’s frame is a little too skinny and doesn’t have adequate play strength, but time in the gym can help that. He does have short arms, so his catch radius is below average and he won’t get a lot of contested catches. Putting Godwin in the slot will give Cam an added weapon that can make something happen after the catch.
Godwin does have an uphill battle to make the 53 man roster, though. The wide receiver room currently has DJ Moore, Curtis Samuel, Jarius Wright, Chris Hogan, Torrey Smith, Rashad Ross, Andre Levrone, DeAndrew White and Moss Frazier. There is no doubt that Moore, Samuel, Wright, Hogan and Smith make the roster, but it’s a toss up between Godwin and Ross for that final spot. Based on Ross’ return ability, it’s believed that he has the edge. Godwin is going to have to play lights out in the preseason to get a spot on the roster, and he has the will to do so.
Godwin went to Callaway High School in Hogansville, Georgia. He was a Prep Magazine five-star prospect, ranked 14th nationally. As a freshman at Georgia, he won one of the Newcomer of the Year Awards and also won Taxslayer Bowl MVP honors later that year. Godwin’s statistics weren’t great, but that’s mainly due to Georgia’s offense being more of a run first scheme. The Bulldogs averaged 226 yards passing per game last season, and Godwin had to share catches with fellow draftees Riley Ridley and Mecole Hardman. Regardless, Marty Hurney got another potential weapon for Cam. Best of luck to you, Terry.
Pick Grade: C
It’s hard to judge a draft class before the players hit the field, but it looks like this was a solid draft. Marty Hurney got two speedy pass rushers, two offensive linemen with high upside, two weapons for Cam and a backup quarterback that can be groomed. Fans should be really excited about this year and the future of this team. Thanks for taking the time to read. Hopefully this gave fans some insight on the Panthers new draft picks.
By: 4MR Norris Thornburg May 5, 2019