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July 30, 2006

2005 draftees low on depth chart

The Panthers have been getting a lot of praise for their drafts in recent years. It’s well deserved, because players such as Jordan Gross, Julius Peppers and Chris Gamble played big roles in last year’s drive to the NFC Championship Game and they’re part of the reason the Panthers are a trendy pick to go to the Super Bowl this season.

That’s nice, but the Class of 2005 is going to need Thomas Davis and Evan Mathis to have long and productive careers or else it could be labeled a bust.

Early in their second training camp, Eric Shelton, Atiyyah Ellison and Stefan LeFors are not in a good spot. Respectively, they’re second- third- and fourth-round picks and each of them is very much in danger of not making the team.

Shelton had a disappointing camp last year before suffering a foot injury that put him out for the season. He’s behind DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams on the depth chart, and is battling Jamal Robertson and Nick Goings for the third (and, perhaps, final) running back spot.

Maybe it’s too early to give up on Shelton, who could be the best bet to be the short-yardage and goal-line runner. But Goings and Robertson have versatility and value on special teams. If Shelton doesn’t show dramatic progress from last year, the Panthers will run out of patience.

They didn’t have much patience with Ellison last season. They cut him in training camp and brought him back to the practice squad. Ellison eventually was promoted to the regular roster, but that came after several injuries to other players. After an offseason overhaul of the defensive line, Ellison entered camp as the team’s sixth-best defensive tackle. At most, the Panthers will keep five.

Then there’s LeFors, who spent last season as the No. 3 quarterback. He has intangibles, but doesn’t have great size or a particularly strong arm. He’s going to be pushed by rookie Brett Basanez, who comes with similar intangibles, better size and a better arm.

Posted by Observer Sports on July 30, 2006 at 08:05 PM | Permalink

Comments

Hi Pat,

For the Panthers to select Shelton in the 2 spot in last years draft, they must have a positive read on him. It is my hope that his head catches up to his body and does not disappoint. Please keep on eye on his progress and let us know if he is fitting in. Thank you.
Terry Miencier

Posted by: Terry Miencier | Aug 1, 2006 12:45:14 AM

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