Draft season is upon us as free agency quiets down and prospect watch goes into overdrive. But the reality for us is that we’re not that involved in the college side of things, though that doesn’t mean we’re not fans of the draft.
For me, though, that means reflecting back on drafts gone by to tell you which teams made the best picks and which ones the worst. So as I do every year, I’m grading every draft pick from 2009 through to 2011 on the PFF rating scale (-2 to +2), factoring in where they were drafted, injuries, and a host of other things.
Up first? Well we’re moving in draft order so it’s the Carolina Panthers
+2.0: You’ve just found Tom Brady in the 6th round
+1.5: Getting much more than you bargained for!
Greg Hardy, DE (176th overall pick in 2010): With a monumental draft day fall it was hard to know what to expect of Hardy. Well, four years in and the reviews are immensely positive with the former sixth-rounder just a whisker away from the top category. His career is 3,029 snaps old but his +53.6 grade is one to be proud of with the bulk of it coming the past two years. He appears to be getting better.
+1.0: The scouts nailed it!
Captain Munnerlyn, CB (216th overall pick in 2009): Finding a below-average starter is a win in the seventh round. So finding a cornerback who can play inside and outside, doing both well, is certainly worthy of this category. If every year of his career had resembled his last in Carolina, this would be higher.
+0.5: Never hurts to find a solid contributor
Cam Newton, QB (1st overall pick in 2011): You still question his ability as a passer because he can be very hit or miss. But he’s done a lot for this franchise to reinvigorate it while making the kind of plays with his legs that have made the Panthers more competitive than anyone imagined.
0.0: It could have been worse
Sherrod Martin, S (59th overall pick in 2009): Former third-rounder who played a healthy 2,586 snaps and at times looked the part. Developed into a slightly below-average starting center so about what I’d expect here.
Mike Goodson, RB (111th overall pick in 2009): Always had the talent to make things happen but would feature just 451 times on offense before he was shipped off to Oakland.
Tony Fiammetta, FB (128th overall pick in 2009): The heir apparent to Brad Hoover lasted 406 snaps himself during which he held up reasonably well, but never to such a level the team wasn’t looking to upgrade on him.
Brandon LaFell, WR (79th overall pick in 2010): Never took that step that would see the team comfortable to lean on their passing attack more. It may surprise you, given his production, that his four years with the team actually saw him play 2,976 snaps.
David Gettis, WR (199th overall pick in 2010): Thrust into the limelight too soon as a rookie, he would miss his second season and fail to impress the new coaching staff when he was back on the field.
Jordan Pugh, S (203rd overall pick in 2010): Sixth-rounder who would feature situationally as a rookie before a bigger role in year two saw him exposed. That would prove his final year with the team.
Tony Pike, QB (205th overall pick in 2010): Developmental pick who would be forced to play 22 snaps as a rookie before being released before the start of the 2012 season.
R.J. Stanford, CB (224th overall pick in 2010): Selected in round seven, Stanford would not get on the field his rookie year before a 257-snap cameo in 2011 that saw him finish the year as a big part of their defensive backfield. That was it though as he was released the following offseason.
Robert McClain, CB (250th overall pick in 2010): Has gone on to have success as a slot cornerback in Atlanta after a short stint in Carolina that saw him start two games as a rookie, feature on 135 defensive snaps, and make eight special teams tackles.
Kealoha Pilares, WR (132nd overall pick in 2011): Would spend two years with the team, becoming a non-factor on offense (54 snaps) but was their primary kick returner before a shoulder injury ended his season in 2012 and an ACL tear ended it in 2013.
Zack Williams, OC (203rd overall pick in 2011): Sixth-rounder who tore his ACL as a rookie and again in his sophomore year.
Lee Ziemba, OT (246th overall pick in 2011): Just 15 snaps as a Panther for this former seventh-round pick who would last two years with the team.
-0.5: That pick was not put to good use
Duke Robinson, OG (163rd overall pick in 2009): Was expected to go a lot higher but suffered a draft day slump. Still, that was meant to be to the benefit of the Panthers, only Robinson would never make an offensive appearance.
Eric Norwood, DE (125th overall pick in 2010): Fourth-rounder who would last two seasons with the team and manage just 149 snaps. Wasn’t the pass rush threat they’d hoped he would be.
Sione Fua, DT (97th overall pick in 2011): No longer with the team, Fua was asked to start as a rookie and looked severely overmatched. Would end up playing 717 snaps before the team ditched him, never looking capable of fulfilling the expectations in him.
Lawrence Wilson, LB (166th overall pick in 2011): Sixth-rounder who would spend some time on the practice squad as a rookie before being released during the season.
-1.0: What a waste!
Corvey Irvin, DT (93rd overall pick in 2009): Still in the league, this former third-round pick would manage just 56 snaps after lasting two years with the team. Didn’t do enough on a team short on defensive tackle talent.
Armanti Edwards, WR (90th overall pick in 2010): That the team traded for Edwards makes this just that much harder to swallow. The 211 snaps on offense he managed did nothing to lessen the waste of the pick.
Terrell McClain, DT (65th overall pick in 2011): Drafted as part of a one-two punch that would rebuild their defensive tackle position, McClain would last just 481 snaps before the team had seen enough. Did manage to rack up a -17.5 grade in that period, which is impressive enough.
Brandon Hogan, CB (98th overall pick in 2011): Taken one pick after Sione Fua and featuring on just 57 snaps, he never recovered from a college ACL injury and was gone within two years of joining the team.
-1.5: The scouts/ coaches failed, big time!
Everette Brown, DE (43rd overall pick in 2009): The team would give up a future first-round pick for Brown and in return get 930 underwhelming snaps. His career grade of -7.9 with the team tells its own story, with Brown unable to make himself a vital part of their defensive line rotation.
Jimmy Clausen, QB (48th overall pick in 2010): Never really worked out for Clausen who looked like a deer in the headlights from Day 1 after something of a draft day fall. Amazing to think he did play 663 horrible snaps with the team before they’d seen enough to bury him on the depth chart.
-2.0: You just drafted the love child of JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf!
Not here …
Here are the teams we’ve covered so far:
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