The Carolina Panthers have built a roster with a lot of quality playmakers on both sides of the ball in recent years. This offseason they didn’t make any splashes but did add a few players who will shore up key areas.
“With free agency and what we’ve done, we feel like we’ve got some depth at all the positions, but the draft is about — especially in the first couple rounds — hopefully trying to target future impact players,” said general manager Marty Hurney at the Panthers pre-draft press conference Tuesday. “Guys who can come in and make an impact for four or five-plus years.”
The Cowboys love high-effort linebackers, and Vander Esch falls in line with Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee. Vander Esch also finishes as furiously as he pursues; he is built to cover a ton of ground, likely on the strong side. He was worth all the cheers for the home team of the draft.
Quenton Nelson to the Colts at No. 6 was a no-brainer to support Andrew Luck and their running game. But how about his Notre Dame teammate Mike McGlinchey going much higher than expected, to the 49ers at No. 9? In a chain reaction, UCLA tackle Kolten Miller jumped up to No. 15 to the Raiders, while Wynn at No. 23 capped the run on versatile interior linemen with Frank Ragnow (Lions) and Billy Price (Bengals). There’s still good second-round value left in players such as UTEP’s Will Hernandez, Iowa’s James Daniels and Texas’ Connor Williams. They won’t wait long to hear their names called.
But in addition to Trader Danny’s summer of 2017 overhaul, it was his lower-profile moves that have given injury-depleted Boston a safety net, and a real chance to hang around this postseason.
“Our mentality has always been: It doesn’t matter who’s playing, we’re going to go out there and we’re going to play hard as hell and play together.” Larkin said.
Traded the No. 1 pick in the draft to Philadelphia to move down to No. 3, where Ainge drafted soon-to-be All-Rookie first-teamer Jayson Tatum and got a future first-round pick for his troubles (the Lakers will convey their 2018 first-round pick on the slim chance it vaults to Nos. 2 or 3 in the lottery; otherwise, Boston will get the Sacramento Kings’ 2019 first-round pick if it’s not No. 1). Tatum, unfazed by the bigger stage, scored 19 points in his playoff debut Sunday.