Grill Bill: EDGE is all the rage, but what about the interior?

grillbill_edoliversack

@PanthersCulture Beyond having a healthy Cam, much as been made about the lack of a pass rush. Most people look at EDGE as the position of need. While that’s popular opinion, the new trend on defense is Vertical/Interior Pass Rush. Shouldn’t the team focus on top interior D Linemen as well?

Absolutely.

I totally get the attention on outside rushers – the Panthers need to come out of this draft with at least one. But I love your reminder about the interior.

I wasn’t great at geometry, physics and the sort, but seems to me the fastest path to a quarterback is through the middle. Rushing from the outside takes just a bit longer, and those are precious milliseconds when facing passers getting the ball out quicker than ever. Plus, the best way to affect a quarterback like, say, Drew Brees is through the interior. If it’s so important to win your division, countering the most important player on the two-time defending NFC South champs would make a lot of sense. Related: I don’t think enough has been made about how much the Saints could miss recently retired center Max Unger.

With Kawann Short, Dontari Poe, Vernon Butler and Kyle Love on the roster, it’s not like the Panthers have a glaring need on the interior. So I hear all of you clamoring for EDGE rushers like Montez Sweat and Brian Burns. But I wouldn’t overlook what an impact rookie in the middle could do.

I can’t imagine Quinnen Williams or Ed Oliver (pictured above) – the consensus top-two interior prospects in this draft – will be available when the Panthers are on the clock. But Christian Wilkins or Dexter Lawrence, Clemson’s pair of big bodies, would interest me with the 16th pick.

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Website submission from Marquise in Norfolk, VA: Do you think Marty could get the third pick from the Jets? And what is your opinion on Josh Allen? I think he’s the best fit for us since we need someone to put pressure on the quarterback and he’s a linebacker who can replace Thomas Davis. That answers our need for speed and youth. Thank you for your time and have a great day. #KeepPounding

I dig Allen, but he’s not falling to 16. And I don’t care if Hurney could get the third pick from the Jets to grab him because I can't imagine he's even entertaining the thought. The assets it would take to jump up there would be too big of an investment.

If the Panthers stay put, they can get help on the line. Offensive or defensive. That should be the goal – one they can hit without sending away future first-round picks.

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@chingling69 _Bill Voth's Mock draft coming anytime soon?

Yup. Here's when I’ll be posting:

First round – April 26

Second and third rounds – April 27

Fourth through seventh rounds – April 28

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Website submission from Doug in Winston-Salem: With the same record and the Falcons beating the Panthers head-on, which tie-breaker gave the Falcons the lower draft pick?

Head-to-head results don't factor into draft positioning. The first tiebreaker is strength of schedule, and here’s how that’s sorted between the four teams that finished 7-9 last year:

Table inside Article
Draft Pick Team Opponents' Record Strength of Schedule
13 Miami 119-135-2 .469
14 Atlanta 122-131-3 .482
15 Washington 124-131-1 .486
16 Carolina 129-125-2 .508

So in a way, the Panthers are getting penalized for doing just as well against stronger opponents as the three teams in front of them did against weaker slates. But them’s the breaks.

While having a better pick in the first round is obviously more valuable, the league does somewhat try to balance things out with a rotation system. Here’s how that grouping of four shakes out after the first round:

Second Round

13) Atlanta

14) Washington

15) Carolina

16) Miami

Third Round

13) Washington

14) Carolina

15) Miami

16) Atlanta

Fourth Round

13) Carolina

14) Miami

15) Atlanta

16) Green Bay (from Washington)

Fifth Round

13) Miami

14) Atlanta

15) Washington

16) Carolina

Sixth Round

13) Atlanta

14) Forfeited by Washington

15) Carolina

16) Tennessee (from Miami)

Seventh Round

13) Washington

14) Buffalo (from Carolina)

15) Detroit (from Miami)

16) Atlanta

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@The_Brofessor _I get we are only half way through the plans for FA...but still no Free Safety signed is mind boggling.

Mind-boggling is a bit overdramatic. That’s not to say it’s not a need. Most reasonable folks would agree it’s the biggest need of any position outside either line. But just because the Panthers haven’t signed a safety doesn’t mean they haven’t talked to any or aren’t still considering available options.

Right now, though, I’d imagine free agent activity is on hold until they see how the draft plays out.

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Website submission from Chris in Trinity, NC: Enjoy your column... About the schedule, I feel as though we have a tough road to make the playoffs with the strength of the schedule. Would love to start the season 2-0, but after the bye week, looks like we better be healthy or could experience Deja Vu, or similar. What are your thoughts?

Predicting how schedules will play out in April is like mock draft season. It’s fun fodder, but it’s mostly just filler. And for what it’s worth, the Panthers’ 2019 strength of schedule is tied with the Chargers for 16th.

Your point about the second half of the season is well taken. That stretch does appear tougher than the first. But look at all the travel in the first two months.

Ultimately, the NFL is hard, and the order of when you play teams shouldn’t have a huge effect on where you stand after 16 games.

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Website submission from Kurt in Charlotte: The Panthers lost a compensatory pick in the draft by not waiting until May 7th to sign Chris Hogan. Smart decision in my opinion. Your thoughts?

I touched on this in the last Grill Bill. You can throw out any expectations for comp picks next year – and that was the case even before they signed Hogan.

First, adding Matt Paradis and Bruce Irvin will cancel out losing Thomas Davis and Devin Funchess. Then, Kenjon Barner, Chandler Cantanzaro, David Mayo and any other of Carolina’s current free agents won’t add much to the formula.

And now, the lightning round …

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@glennma01 team have plans for 25th anniversary?

Yup. Stay tuned for those rollouts over the next few months.

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@rock_lobster _Do you ever yearn?

Well, not recently. I craved. I crave all the time, constant craving. But I haven't yearned.

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@JarrettGparker Are we getting a jersey revamping this year or should I file that away under reading too much in that “cryptic” @Panthers panthers Instagram post from a month or so ago?

I believe you’re referring to this:

View this post on Instagram

Clean 👌

A post shared by Carolina Panthers (@panthers) on

*insert big eyes emoji*

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Website submission from Lang in Ellerbe, NC: Does the signing of Chris Hogan now make us turn our head from selecting D.K Metcalf in the draft.

You’re assuming their heads were actually considering taking him at 16?

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Website submission from Mitch in Charlotte: Why haven’t we signed Danny Shelton And Eric Berry , given Kaepernick a shot at a Saints look with multiple QB ‘s with Hill and Bridgewater getting time and reps in, imagine Colin and Cam both playing TE/RB/WR/QB or just blocking . Time to evolve, spread the field and go to work and worry about the lines with the draft or trade away draft picks for proven $ ball players and lets get to work to many pieces just laying around and some still in the packaging . Just saying

That’s interesting.

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@erndixon Realistically how much do you think they are going to lighten the load on CMC this year?

Dunno. Think I’ll wait until a) they bring someone in who can mimic his role and b) they actually begin taking him off the field.

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Website submission from David in Farmington, MO: Grill related, love your writing btw. Do you prefer east Carolina bbq or west Carolina bbq?

Western.

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@SorryAmigos What is the best way to cook a steak and why do so few people believe it's rare?

Medium rare. And maybe because people don’t want a red river flowing out once they cut in?

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Website submission from Austin in Asheville, NC: Is there any chance we trade up or down in the draft?

Yes.

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@peetree910 is the Panthers new WR coach, Jim Hostler, just Ricky Prohel in disguise?

Not bad. Not bad at all.

Jim Hostler and Ricky Proehl headshots

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