Monday, April 28, 2008

Let the Countdown Begin...

This weekend, the NFL draft was held, which means that football fans everywhere are beginning to envision what their team’s lineup is going to look like this fall. Hope springs anew for everybody on draft day, but the real test will come in August and September as teams come together for training camp and open the regular season. After watching the moves my Panthers made over the weekend, I’m very excited about August and September.

We ended up with two first round picks Saturday, taking Oregon RB Jonathan Stewart with the #13 pick, then trading up to #19 and taking Pitt OT Jeff Otah. Stewart should be a great Stephen Davis-style compliment to DeAngelo Williams in the backfield, but I think I’m actually the most excited about Otah. Take a look at the picture above – Otah’s the guy on the left. Looks big, right? Now consider that the other guy in the picture is 6’3, 300 pounds. Otah is a truck, coming in at 6’6, 340 pounds. Carolina’s never really had a bruising, dominant force on the O-line, like, for example, Orlando Pace has been for St. Louis for the past decade. I think Otah has the raw tools to be that guy. Time will tell if he is.

In the third round, we added DB Charles Godfrey from Iowa who figures to challenge for a starting job at safety right away, plus LB Dan Connor from Penn State. I really don’t know where Connor will fit with the glut of talented linebackers we’ve already got, but it seems coach John Fox and GM Marty Hurney couldn’t pass on a guy in the mid-third round that they felt had late-first/early-second round value. Among our late round selections, TE Gary Barnidge (from…LOUISVILLE!) stands out as another target for Jake Delhomme to look for. All in all, I think this was one of our best drafts since 2001, when we landed Dan Morgan, Kris Jenkins, and Steve Smith. Any other NFL fans out there? What did you think of your team’s weekend?

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