Monday, February 26, 2007

Carolina Panthers (8-8)

2006 season: 8-8
Head Coach: John Fox
Offensive Coordinator: Jeff Davidson
Defensive Coordinator: Mike Trgovac
Pro-Bowl: Steve Smith (WR), Julius Peppers (DE), Kris Jenkins (DT)


The Carolina Panthers offense was down this season. Jake Delhomme took a huge step back missing 3 games and only throwing for 2,805 yards with 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. A lot of people had the Panthers as the Super Bowl favorites but with a lack luster running game and and sub par passing game, not to mention injuries on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball, the Panthers were just mediocre overall. Although the passing game wasn't very good, Steve Smith had a great season once again despite missing the first two games of the season. He caught 83 balls for 1,166 yards and 8 touchdowns. Keyshawn Johnson also didn't have that bad of a season with 70 receptions for 815 yards and 4 touchdowns. The running game at times was good but for the most part neither DeShaun Foster nor DeAngelo Williams distanced themselves as starters. Foster missed two games but received the bulk of the attempts, he rushed for 897 yards and 3 touchdowns. Williams had 501 yards and just 1 touchdown. Williams also had 33 receptions for 313 yards and 1 touchdown.


Carolina's defense this year was very good once again. They did have some trouble at times stopping the run, but overall they ranked in the top 10 in every major defensive category. Julius Peppers was great, and was in the running for defensive player of the year. Peppers had 57 tackles, 13 sacks and forced 3 fumbles while recovering 2. Although they were good overall they had a lot of problems at the linebacker position. Chris Draft rejuvenated his career with leading the Panthers in tackles, he had 107 tackles and 5.5 sacks but Draft isn't really a long-term fix. Also Thomas Davis had a good sophomore season getting 88 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Mike Minter was better than he was the past two years, but still hasn't gotten back to the type of player he was back in 03' and 04'. Minter had 83 tackles, 1 interception and 6 passes defended. Rookie corner back, Richard Marshall had a great season, getting 82 tackles and leading the team in both interceptions(3 and 1 touchdown) and passes defended(11).Kris Jenkins was finally able to do something he hasn't done in 2 years, play a whole season. Jenkins played in a total of 5 games the past two season but this year he played in all 16 and made 41 tackles along with 3 sacks.

Special Teams

John Kasay had by far the best season of his 16 year career. Kasay hit 89% of his field goals. Also having his best season was punter, Jason Baker had an average of 45.7, 31 punts inside the 20 and 12 touch backs. All of them were career highs for Baker. Now returning the ball was a different story. The Panthers couldn't find one set person to return kicks, they had a total of 8 different players returning kicks and punts this season. The best was probably rookie DeAngelo Williams who had 623 yards.

Draft Notes

The Panthers hold the 14th overall pick in this years draft. Now there are a lot of different ways they Panthers could look to use the pick. The biggest need for the Panthers is by far the linebacker position, but the problem is their isn't anyone that they could take that early in the draft. They are going to need a safety to replace Shaun Williams and they also could really use some help at defensive tackle. I think Carolina could also look to get more weapons for their passing game. Possibly adding another receiver and an impact tight end. With Jake Delhomme having a less than spectacular season the Panthers could also look to get another back up, Chris Weinke isn't good enough to play European football much less in the NFL.

Positions that must be addressed during the draft.

1. Linebacker
2. Safety
3. Defensive Tackle
4. Tight End
5. Wide Receiver


Their biggest need is at linebacker, but they won't be able to address this need until at least the second round. Their isn't a linebacker this year that is a top 15 pick like last season, Lawrence Timmons was projected to be one, but he had a very bad combine that will surely drop him to the later 1st round or even the second round. Some guys they could go after in the second round are Buster Davis(FSU), David Harris(MICH) and Brandon Siler(FLA).


Safety is another need for Carolina, they will likely go for either LaRon Landry out of LSU or Reggie Nelson out of Florida with their first round pick. It depends which one is still their and if both are for some reason, I would select Landry if I was them. They also could get some good safeties in the later rounds if they decide to go another way, some guys they could choose are Aaron Rouse(VT), Brandon Meriweather(MIA), and Eric Weddle(UTAH), all of them are possible 2nd round picks.


If they don't choose a safety with the 14th overall pick then I expect them to choose a defensive tackle. The most obvious choice for them would be Amobi Okoye from Louisville. They also could look for someone to fill that whole in the later rounds, someone like Quinn Pitcock(OSU), Ray McDonald(FLA) who could play outside or inside and Brandon Mebane(CAL).


They haven't really had a play maker at tight end in quite some time and although tight end isn't necessarily deep this year, their are some people that have impressed me. I am really like Ben Patrick from Delaware, Michael Allan from Whitworth and Daniel Coats from B.Y.U. All of these guys could be steals in the late first day or early second day of the draft.


Besides Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson, there isn't much depth at Wide Receiver. Drew Carter isn't bad but they lack a fourth receiver. I like them to go after Brandon Myles(WVU), David Clowney(VT), Rhema McKnight(ND) or Steve Breaston(MICH). David Clowney had a great combine running a 4.36 in the forty and he could be rising up the draft boards to a 3rd to 4th round pick.

The Panthers have a great team and should return to the playoffs next year. If Delhomme can play better, they can get some consistency on offense then they could be another Super Bowl favorite like this year.

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