Leading up to the draft, first-year GM Dave Gettleman made it clear that he wanted to build the Panthers from the inside out. He preferred big linemen, or “hog mollies” as he called them. But we didn’t know just how much he loved them. And we didn’t know where he stood on the classic “draft for need” versus “draft best player available” debate. His first round selection of Star Lotulelei told us next to nothing.
Why is that?
Well, Lotulelei filled a need and most considered him the best player available. He also fit the “hog molly” description. Basically, we learned that Gettleman liked Lotulelei better than Shariff Floyd. That’s about it.
Most analysts and fans figured Gettleman would draft a safety, corner or wide receiver in the second round. He didn’t. Instead, he selected another defensive tackle – Purdue’s Kawann Short. A giddy Gettleman called Short the “most natural pass-rusher of all the defensive tackles in the draft.”
Analysts and fans again were predicting Gettleman would bolster the secondary or add a receiver with the three remaining picks. He thought differently, selecting a guard, a linebacker and, gasp, another running back.
Clearly, Gettleman isn’t focused on positions of need. He’s a best player available guy, through and through. He also showed longterm focus with those last two picks.
Why draft a linebacker and a running back when there’s already talent at those positions?
Both Jon Beason and DeAngelo Williams make big money and haven’t delivered over the past two seasons. Selecting A.J. Klein and Kenjon Barner lays out a succession plan and sends a clear message to the pricey veterans. Plus, both Klein and Barner are capable of contributing on special teams – an area where the Panthers need help.
We now know that Gettleman doesn’t just like hog mollies, he loves them. He’s also thinking beyond 2013 and believes in drafting best player available over need.
Those are his philosophies. Now we have to wait and see if they work.
~Lewis Woodard, WFNZ Sports Radio The Fan 610 AM
Find Lewis on Twitter @LewWoodard