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Taking A Look At The Two Gems Of The Panthers Undrafted Free Agent Class

NCAA FOOTBALL: DEC 07 ACC Championship Game - Duke v Florida State

December 07 2013: Duke Blue Devils safety Jeremy Cash (16) celebrates the fumble recovery during the NCAA football game between Florida State Seminoles and Duke Blue Devils at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC.

The Panthers’ 2016 draft was about strengthening. David Gettleman and his staff not only managed to add a quality player to an already strong Defensive Line, but also were able to help fix the gigantic crack in the dam left by All Pro Cornerback Josh Norman’s sudden departure. Surprisingly though, it wasn’t the Defending NFC Champions’ draft class that was the buzz, but the players they signed after the fact. Partially because the draft class lacked that sexy playmaker some had hoped for, but mostly because the UDFA group included a highly thought of local prospect, in Duke’s Jeremy Cash.

Cash comes into the Panthers much like standout Linebacker Thomas Davis did 11 years ago. After playing Safety for Duke at a high level, including an ACC Defensive Player of the Year campaign in 2015, Cash will be asked to transition to Weakside Linebacker. While Cash doesn’t have the athleticism or movement skills that Thomas Davis does (look to last years 1st round draft pick, Shaq Thompson for that), he does have a potential future with the team at his new position.

Cash is a physical player in the box, and does not shy away from the violence of the game. He’ll come crashing down with little regard for his body and jar ball carriers trying to create a momentum changing play. He does a good job pursuing downhill and sideline to sideline, as well as diagnosing plays in the backfield and attacking. He also shows some ability to get to the Quarterback in the backfield, something he will surely be asked to do at the Will.

Cash Blitzcash blitz 2

Something Cash will also be asked to do in either Outside Linebacker position, is cover in space. That is where Cash falls short when compared to his new teammates Davis and Thompson. Unlike the two former first round picks, Cash is stiffer in coverage and has difficulty moving in space. He struggles in Man coverage and is prone to taking the bait on double moves and misdirection. He tries to overcompensate for the trouble he has in space, which will likely leave him behind the play against the NFL’s elusive playmakers. He can also get lost on the field at times, zeroing in on the ball losing awareness of the situation.

While Cash is the name most familiar with Panthers fans, Wide Receiver Keyarris Garrett, is another potential gem from David Gettleman’s 2016 rookie free agent haul. Garrett spent 2015 destroying Conference USA and during the pre-draft process, some even had the Senior as a top-100 prospect. NFL personnel departments didn’t feel this way however, and college football’s most productive WR in 2015 ended up signing with the Panthers as a UDFA.

Garrett’s biggest asset is his combination of size and vertical play making ability. Built much in the mold of the Panthers’ Devin Funchess, Garrett is 6’4 220 lbs. He shows the ability to get on top of and pass by Defensive Backs on an island, making him a legitimate vertical threat.

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Garrett also tracks the ball well in the air and shows the body control to adjust and make difficult catches. He doesn’t get a lot of opportunities to do so, but does show the explosion after the catch to be a playmaker on short and intermediate routes. Garrett has an incredibly large target zone thanks to his length, and competes well at the catch point to expand it.

garrett hail mary

That’s not to say Garrett is without his faults though, he didn’t go undrafted for no reason. He struggles far too often against press coverage, and he has difficulty hauling in contested catches. He needs to become more consistent catching the football overall and while he has good top end speed, it takes him some time to accelerate. His route tree is also extremely shallow, running mostly 9-routes, slants quick hitches and screens. He doesn’t accelerate effectively out of his breaks, and doesn’t always fight to get back to the ball. Still, with his skill set, he’s a player that could become something for the Panthers if given the time to mature.

Despite being highly productive college players, both Cash and Garrett have a long way to go before producing in the NFL. Cash is the most likely to stick on the 53-man roster, as he can be a valuable asset on Special Teams. Projecting a bit, I could see Cash beating out a player like Ben Jacobs if he shows he can be a consistent tackler on the coverage team. Garrett’s place is a little more difficult to find. He’s shades of Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess without being as refined as either. Without the Special Teams ability, he’s almost certain to lose camp battles to Ted Ginn and Philly Brown. Garrett will likely be fighting Stephen Hill, Kevin Norwood and 2015 UDFA Damiere Byrd for the final WR spot, but is a likely candidate to be placed on the Practice Squad if he doesn’t win the job.

What do you think of Cash and Garrett? Let me know

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Carolina Panthers 2012 Seven Round Mock Draft

Since it would be too easy to mock Fletcher Cox in the first I’m not going to do that.  I’m buying that the Eagles want to move up and get Cox and we would be the primary competition for him.  I say cut out the middle man and add a valuable pick in the process.  The Panthers trade the #9 and #216 picks to the Eagles for the #15, #46, and #172.  Then, with a lot of value still left at the fifteen hole, the Cats manage to move down again trading the #15 to the Green Bay Packers for the #28, #59, and 123.  The Packers move up and get one of the two first round pass rushing specialists in Nick Perry, or Whitney Mercilus.

Pick #28: DT Devon Still, Penn State

6’5/303/4.94/26

While Cox may have more upside then Still, Devon was the more consistent player last year.  I see the talent difference as marginal, which is why I’m trading down.  If you tell me I can get two good to great prospects in the top 60 of the draft, or four, I’m taking four every single time.  Still is strong at the point of attack, and drives lineman back into the pocket on a regular basis.  He’s a well rounded tackle who provides contributions in run support, as well as the pass rush.  Has a similar skill set and size as Ndamukong Suh, but needs to play a little more nasty.

Pick #40: CB Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama

5’10/193/4.46/33.5

This is another value pick, but also comes at a position of need.  Jenkins absolutely should not be on the board at this point of the draft, but he will because of some character red flags.  This guy is an absolute monster, the best cover corner in the draft.  He has top ten talent, and the Panthers have to grab him if he’s there in the second.  He’s a little on the small size at 5’10, but he has elite speed, and is a physical corner who isn’t afraid to initiate contact.  Would be a stellar pickup here, and likely start opposite Gamble from day one.

Pick #46: LB Lavonte David, Nebraska

6’1/233/4.65/19

I like TD, and I hope he comes back healthy and plays every game, but chances are at some point we’ll need a quality backup to come in.  They get that guy in David, who can contribute not only on special teams, but be a quality starter if called upon.  David is a sure tackler, who flows well sideline to sideline.  I’ve been extremely high on Davis ever since the 2010 season, and think he has the tools to be a monster.  Even if TD can go, they get his long term replacement in the second round.

Pick #59: OT Mitchell Schwartz, California

6’5/318/5.45/23

Schwartz is a solid tackle with above average athleticism.  Will provide injury assurance in case Otah can’t go, and valuable depth along with Bruce Campbell.  Also, if needed he can slide around the line and play guard.

Pick #104: TE Ladarius Green, Louisiana-Lafayette

6’6/238/4.53/34.5

Ron Rivera can’t resist as he sees this athletic monster staring him in the face in the fourth.  Green gives Cam Newton another weapon to feed the ball to, and make our offense even more deadly.  At 6’6 with low 4.5 speed Green becomes an instant match up nightmare for opposing defenses.

Pick #123: WR Tommy Streeter, University of Miami

6’5/219/4.40/33

The Panthers need to find a number one receiver in the next three years.  They also would love for that guy to be a freak like Calvin Johnson Jr.  They wanted Stephen Hill, but had too many more important needs to grab him at the end of the first where he went.  They get a guy they think can be groomed to that level much later in the draft in Streeter.  Streeter is an extremely raw route runner and pass catcher, but has size and speed that cannot be taught.  If he can mature as a wide receiver he has a chance to play at an exceptional level down the road.

Pick #143: MLB James-Michael Johnson, Nevada

6’1/241/4.68/23

Outside of the top three MLB’s in the draft, there’s nobody to write home about.  Still, the Panthers are hurting at the position with little to no depth behind Jon Beason.  While I really like Thomas Williams and feel he could fill in on a limited basis, we still need bodies at the position.  Because of this, you take Johnson here based on the skill set he has.  JMJ has great size at 6’1 and around 240 pounds, and above average speed at the position.  He’s a little stiff in coverage, but is excellent in run support attacking the ball carrier with great burst.

Pick #172: P Drew Butler, University of Georgia

6’1/203/5.04

The Panthers jump the gun a little bit here.  They would like to wait till their compensatory pick to address punter, but feel a run on the position is coming.  They pull the trigger and get the best punter in the draft.  Butler has an incredible leg, averaging 44 yards per punt last season.  He also gets great hang time on his kicks, which was one of the main criticisms of Jason Baker.  Butler will come in and make an instant impact on special teams as a punter, and kickoff specialist.

Pick #180: DE Donte Paige-Moss

6’3/268/4.67/26

Much like when the Panthers selected Greg Hardy, Paige-Moss is a guy who has the tools and would have been selected much higher had he stayed an extra year.  At the start of last season, many 2013 mocks had him rated as the top DE.  He has good size for the position at just under 6’4″, and around 270 pounds.  He also has good athleticism, and is a above average edge rusher.  He lost his starting job this year, but in 2010 was a standout with 49 tackles, including 7.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for a loss.  His character has been called into question after he ripped the Carolina coaching staff following their bowl game, and he is recovering from a knee injury.  However, this late in the draft you have to take chances, and Paige-Moss has the ability to turn into a draft gem if he puts it all together.

Pick #207: QB Darron Thomas, Oregon

6’3/220/4.72/36

The Panthers find the perfect backup to Cam at the very end of the sixth round in Thomas.  Thomas is raw as a passer, but has great athleticism and running ability.  The addition of Thomas allows the Panthers to run the same offense if Cam were to ever go down.

Undrafted Free Agents

OT Mike Ryan, UCONN
RB Jeff Demps, Florida (If track doesn’t work out)
WR Lance Lewis, ECU
DT DeAngelo Tyson, Georgia
CB/KR Greg McCoy, TCU
LB Chris Galippo, USC
S   Lance Mitchell, Oregon State
FB Chad Diehl, Clemson