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November 30, 2005

2005 draftees haven't produced much

Believe it or not, the most productive rookie from the Carolina Panthers’ 2005 draft class has been Ben Emanuel.

That’s more than a little surprising considering Emanuel didn’t make the team. But the safety has landed on his feet after getting what amounted to a wake-up call from the Panthers. Blessed with plenty of natural physical talent, Emanuel didn’t impress in training camp. But, after a stint on San Francisco’s practice squad and a series of injuries, Emanuel has ended up as a starting safety for the 49ers. He made four tackles in Sunday’s game with Tennessee.

Not bad for a seventh-round draft pick.

In a strange kind of way, Emanuel brings some much-needed credibility to the Panthers’ draft class. If you don’t count Emanuel, this rookie class hasn’t produced much. Here’s a look at the drafted players still with the team and what they have and (in many cases) have not produced:

Thomas Davis: The first-round pick got torched as he opened the season at strong safety. He quickly lost that job. Very quietly, Davis has made some good impressions on special teams and as the joker linebacker in the nickel package. If he ends up starting and producing at linebacker next year, it will go a long way in validating this draft class.

Eric Shelton: The running back was taken in the second round, but hasn’t played a down. After a less-than-stellar preseason, Shelton was placed on the injured-reserve list. But he’ll certainly get a chance to prove himself next season and could end up competing with DeShaun Foster for the feature back role.

Evan Mathis: This third-round pick has some potential, but his playing time has been limited to special teams. But Mathis could be the future at right guard. Tutan Reyes has played well and the Panthers aren’t going to make major changes while they’re winning. But Reyes can become a free agent after the season, and the Panthers have Mathis waiting.

Atiyyah Ellison: Another third-round pick with enormous potential, but no production so far. Ellison was released after a disappointing training camp. He bounced around the practice squad, but now is on the roster. Maybe, like Emanuel, he needed a wake-up call.

Stefan LeFors: The quarterback was taken in the fourth round as a project and that’s exactly what he’s turned out to be. LeFors hasn’t shown strong signs he’s ready for a shot at playing time. But a year as the third quarterback might help his chances to move into the backup role next season because it’s pretty likely Chris Weinke will sign elsewhere as a free agent.

Adam Seward: For a brief time, Seward looked like the steal in this draft class. He was contributing on special teams and learning fast as a backup linebacker. But a broken foot put Seward down for the year. He’ll be a special teams regular next season.

Geoff Hangartner: Another fifth-round pick, Hangartner was drafted with time for development. Veteran Jeff Mitchell is the starting center and Hangartner is a backup with decent potential. Mitchell is a free agent after the season and the Panthers will make a strong attempt to re-sign him. If they don’t, Hangartner might have to step up in a hurry.

Jovan Haye: This seventh-round pick surprised some when he made the team. Haye hasn’t been a factor as a defensive end. But when you’re playing behind Julius Peppers, Mike Rucker and Al Wallace, that’s nothing to be ashamed of and you’ve got some pretty good mentors.

PLAYOFF TICKETS: The e-mails haven’t stopped about the price of playoff tickets if the Panthers get a home game.

There’s no doubt the tickets are overpriced and you’re going to make some very rich men even richer. It’s sad, true and unfortunate.

But guess what? It’s that way everywhere.

Welcome to the world of big-league sports.

Posted by Observer Sports on November 30, 2005 at 11:32 AM | Permalink

Comments

I'm really tired of major sports teams demanding higher taxes to fund expensive stadiums and then they charge astronomical fees for tickets and concessions.

You're really telling me that a hot dog that I could cook myself for 20 cents is worth 3.75?

Sure, "that's the world of major league sports." But we don't have to like it. The NFL rakes in billions just from its tv and merchandise deals.

Isn't the payback a $5 nosebleed seat ticket?

Posted by: Jonathan in MA | Nov 30, 2005 2:37:25 PM

If I'm not mistaken, the Panthers had a shot at DeMarcus Ware, a standout rookie linebacker that now plays for Dallas. Not taking anything from Brandon Short, but Ware, Witherspoon and Morgan would have been a powerfull threesome. But that is not the case. I think Thomas Davis will make big plays as The Joker this Sunday against Atlanta.

Posted by: Matt Frazier | Dec 1, 2005 8:34:19 AM

Thomas Davis' head is swiss cheese right now.

In college, they didn't allow him to settle on one position. In the NFL, he's being flip-flopped between Safety, Linebacker, and a hybrid combination of both.

Not to mention special teams duties.

Every rookie has growing pains----but we're expecting him to be Ronnie Lott before he can learn to crawl.

He won't be a bust, unless we continue to mess with his head.

Posted by: Jonathan in MA | Dec 1, 2005 10:13:24 AM

Ben Emanuel and Jovan Haye were not 7th round picks as you suggested. Emanuel was a 5th round pick (compesatory # 171 overall) and Jovan Haye was a 6th round pick (# 189 overall). Carolina had no 7th round picks this year.

Additionally, you left out offensive guard Joe Berger, another 6th rounder and compensatory pick (# 207 overall). Berger has a huge upside considering his draft position and was cut by the team in preseason. He never cleared waivers and was immediately signed by Miami.

Posted by: Pantherd | Dec 1, 2005 1:37:43 PM

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