During general manager Dave Gettleman’s NFL Scouting Combine press conference he spoke about Carolina’s use of the read-option. This telling quote may foretell of a direction the Panthers may go in during the NFL draft in April.
"Ten of the 12 teams in the playoffs this year had true pocket passers," said Gettleman after he was asked whether the read-option was going to be around for the long haul in Carolina. "At the end of the day, the quarterback has to make plays from the pocket. I think the read-option is an option, exactly what you called it."
“But at the end of the day your quarterback has got to make plays from the pocket, and if he can't you're going to struggle."
What that tells me is Cam Newton is going to be making more plays with his arm in 2013 than he has in his previous two years in the NFL. While he’s more than capable of doing just that, before we rearrange the NFL record book, Carolina needs to add a weapon for him to utilize.
Any passer would be happy connecting with Steve Smith with regularity. But after Smith, Carolina’s wide receiver depth chart is barren with game-changing talent.
What if the Panthers took Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson in the first round with their pick at No. 14?
Patterson is a freakishly athletic receiver who not only has burning-fast speed—he ran a 4.42 40-yard dash at the combine Sunday—but he’s got leaping ability that’s going to show in spades on Sunday.
Bleacher Report NFL draft guru Matt Miller thinks Patterson can beat defenders off the line and truly leap to grab balls. That means the rookie wideout might be able to truly give the Panthers a No. 2 option, one they haven’t had in the Newton era.
Not only would this take some pressure off Smith on one side of the field, but it would greatly enhance Newton’s ability to stay in the pocket because the extra target would always be available. After Smith and tight end Greg Olsen, Patterson would be a more-than-sound option in Carolina’s offense.
Outside of Patterson’s speed and jumping ability, Russ Lande of National Football Post reported that Patterson wasn’t quite the superstar in drills, and more important, he did poorly in some of the team interviews, “which will likely lead to him sliding down draft boards.”
If Patterson slides to No. 14, will the Panthers grab him?
I’m of the opinion Carolina would be silly not to take a shot at Patterson if he were available at their pick in Round 1. Sure, the Panthers have issues on defense, but more times than not—especially in the NFC South—a team can rise to glory with powerful offense.
When New Orleans added quarterback Drew Brees, the Saints quickly became an NFL power. Atlanta traded up in the 2011 draft and grabbed wide receiver Julio Jones. A year later the Falcons were one game away from the Super Bowl.
Adding Patterson to the Panthers roster could be a very similar move to the Falcons drafting Jones. How could they not take that chance if Patterson were there?
All combine results courtesy of NFL.com.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and statements were obtained firsthand.