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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Mike Mitchell "Confident" He Will Re-sign with Carolina Panthers

Replicating Carolina's 2013 success will be a difficult task given the parity of the NFL.  Doing it with a markedly different roster won't make it any easier.  It's likely that this is what Carolina will have to do in 2014, however. With 21 unrestricted free agents on the roster, both sides of the ball will likely be remastered.  Key players in Carolina's 2013 success will probably wear other teams jerseys next year. But given last year's lackluster offense, it's the defensive free agents that Panther Nation is most interested. 

Panther fans have been clamoring for any little tidbit suggesting who will go and who will stay.  Well last night, Mike Mitchell gave us a little breadcrumb that suggests he will be re-signing with the Carolina Panthers. 

Here's the exchange: 

After leaving Oakland, many had deemed Mitchell a draft bust.  He signed a 1-yr deal with the Panthers and began fighting for a roster spot.  Mitchell won more than a roster spot, however. He won something greater than a starting spot even. Mitchell won the hearts of Panther Nation, something that is priceless in a market like Carolina.  

The big hitting, high intensity safety quickly became a fan favorite and an integral component of Carolina's 2013 success.  Mitchell tallied 4 sacks, 4 INTs, and 72 tackles last year in what was one of the greatest seasons for a Panthers' safety ever. 

Keeping Carolina's top ranked defense together next year will be near impossible.  Gettleman pieced together a remarkably effective roster composed of hog molly rookie tackles and nomadic veterans in the secondary to create one of the league's best defenses. It was impressive. New and old faces gelled.  Panther favorites, like Luke Keuchly and Thomas Davis, shined.  Greg Hardy terrorized quarterbacks, racking up 16 sacks in a contract year.  Mike Mitchell, however, played an often overlooked and underrated part in Carolina's success though. 

Early in Carolina's turnaround, I wrote Carolina Controls Center in Playoff Chess Match.  Mitchell was a great focus of this article because the toughness and tenacity he brings to Carolina's defense.  It's great to hear that the big hitter wants to come back to Carolina next year.  It's even better to hear that it will likely happen.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Panthers Hope to Land CB Bradley Roby in 2nd Rd

Early Panthers’ draft chatter has focused mostly on drafting a wide receiver in the 1st rd and an offensive tackle in the 2nd.  It wasn’t until this week that murmurs Carolina could take a cornerback in the 1st or 2nd rounds emerged.  These murmurs are mostly just fan speculation, but that is enough to get me excited about the potential addition of Bradley Roby. Roby would be a steal if he slipped to the 2nd rd and was still on the board when the Panthers came up at #60.  While it’s unlikely he will fall that far, one mock draft has it happening. It may even be worth it for the Panthers to consider trading up a few positions in the 2nd rd to have a better chance of landing Roby.  It would be worth it and probably cost less than you would expect.

Roby ended his 2012 sophomore year with many thinking he was the top corner prospect in college football.  Off the field troubles, resulting in a one game suspension, and a rocky 2014 start caused Roby’s stock to fall. It was Wisconsin’s Jared Abbrederis’s 10 catch, 207 yard performance, and a TD against Roby that caused his stock to plummet though. That was the second time in a troubled season start that Roby had been exposed by good, but not great, receivers.  Then again, Roby had another tough outing against Northwestern’s Rashad Lawrence, who racked up 149 yards on eight catches.

Roby struggled against the top talents that everyone thought he should shut down.  Analysts became critical, stating:

“The cornerback has been playing too soft on receivers, who are then capitalizing on the cushion they are being given for some big-time gains through the air. Since this is typically due to the pre-snap alignment of the junior defender, one would assume that this fault is on the coaching staff. When watching games, it is impossible not to notice the overall lack of aggression the defense exhibits.”

The fans were even less forgiving, piling on Roby in comments in sections throughout the net. Fan criticisms turned bitter at the end when some fans accused that Roby intentionally sat out the Orange Bowl to avoid Sammy Watkins in hopes of preserving what draft status he had recovered. Character questions, once again, continued to surround the Ohio star.  Ohio fans alluded that Roby was a soft.  Roby took this personally, striking back on Twitter stating, “The fact that people Tweeting at me sayin’ all this negativity is crazy to me. It makes me ashamed to even have played for y’all.”

This outburst may highlight the one thing that may allow Carolina to steal him in the second—maturity.

Roby admitted this as the most important part of his game that he needed to improve, stating that his return for a junior season, despite the rough start, was helpful in improving his “mindset.”  This was the focus throughout for the struggling corner.  He may have thought this partly behind him at one point when he stated:

"I'm just concentrating on doing my job and making plays for my teammates. Once you change your mindset from trying to please scouts, fans, other people to just making plays for your teammates and doing your job, that's when it all shifts.

That's when I got back to how I normally play."

One thing can be for certain, Sammy Watkins didn’t sit out the Orange Bowl. No, no…he ate it up.  Watkins dominance hopefully will help reinforce this idea that Roby was worried about his image going into the draft in the minds of NFL GMs.  If he slips, it will be to the Panthers benefit.

Roby shows great promise despite his 2013 troubles.  The 5’11, 192lbs corner has good size and amazing speed.  Word around Ohio is that Roby once ran a 4.26/40yd and consistently runs 4.3 speed in practice.  This is the type of speed can’t be taught and would allow Roby compete with speedy wide-outs like Mike Wallace, who torched the Panthers secondary in 2013. He has great ball skills and instincts, and isn’t afraid to jump a route, step up in rush coverage, or layout a big boy.

The great news is that Roby has a lot of room to improve, but demonstrates the talent to become a top NFL corner. He has the one thing you can’t teach—speed. He had a humbling last year in Ohio that I think will pay dividends in the NFL also. Roby has seen how the hype can dissipate quickly.  He has already been introduced to the idea that people’s views of a player’s potential and value hinges only on what they did in the last game.  This should serve as motivation for the young man.

Roby is mocked to be drafted in the mid-2nd round.  Most likely, Roby will go earlier than #60 overall. It would be ideal to grab him at #60, but the Panthers may need to move up a few spots in the 2nd round to land the young talent. Perhaps by trading their 1st round pick for an additional 2nd rd pick and 4th rd pick, Gettleman could get it done and address needs at WR, CB, and OT.

I know this is a bit hopeful, but that’s what so wonderful about draft speculation.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Eric Decker, Answer for Carolina Panthers' Receiving Woes?

One of the most glaring holes in the Panthers’ offense this past season was at receiver. Many draft prognosticators believe Carolina will draft a receiver in the 1st Rd.  Fortunately, 2014 has a deep receiver class makes the potential for drafting a franchise receiver at 28th pick an actual possibility. The addition of a first round talent at such an important skill position will certainly improve our offense. 

How quickly will it be before the rookie addition positively impacts the Carolina’s offense? Immediately?  After two seasons?

Carolina needs to bridge the new and the old.  Steve Smith, Carolina’s franchise #1, is approaching the end of a phenomenal career.  At best, he has one 1-2 years left as the #1 receiving option. He could settle in nicely to a #2 role, but perform more like #1a.  Giving Smitty a little breathing room by relaxing his role offensively may even add a year or two to his career.

A great way for the Panthers to maximize Smith and this future franchise #1 pick would be to add a strong, consistent receiver to serve as an interim #1 during this grooming period. 

Eric Decker would be perfect. 

26 yr old Decker was drafted from the University of Minnesota, after only three years in college.  Decker reached 100 yards receiving 11 times as Golden Gopher and was targeted 354 times. Of those 354 targets, he dropped only 3 passes. That is stunning 99% reception rate.

I once heard Hall of Famer Cris Carter comment that if he dropped more than 3 balls in a season, he would consider it a bad season.  I’m guessing ole CC would deem Decker’s college career successful. 

Decker’s consistent play continued with the Broncos. He has improved statistically each season.  The biggest jump, unsurprisingly, came with the arrival of Peyton Manning, instantly doubling his reception totals.  Decker remained a highly called upon number, even with Wes Welker’s arrival in 2013. Decker was second on the Broncos’ roster with 87 receptions. He averaged almost 15 yards per reception in 2013, and was able to haul in 24 touchdowns over the last two seasons. To put that into perspective, the Panthers were led in receptions (73), receiving touchdowns (6), and receiving yards (816) by tight end Greg Olsen. Those are good numbers for a tight end, but should those be the numbers for your teams leading receiver?

 Many, who question Decker’s ability to be a big time #1 receiver outside of Denver, argue that he will not shine when becoming the focal threat in an offense not manned by Manning. They may be right, but Carolina would not need Decker to be AJ Green or Mike Williams.  It wouldn’t be like Decker was coming into an offense without a proven quarterback either.  Cam Newton demonstrated that he was more than capable by exhibiting, possibly the most underrated characteristic--consistency.  Carolina’s offense doesn’t need to the greatest show on turf.  Carolina needs offensive consistency.  Decker can help them do it. 

 Decker has NFL size at 6’3” 214 lbs. Great hands, quicker than he is fast, runs excellent routes, wide catch radius, total body control, goes up to get ball at highest point, and young, Decker could be a long term option for the Panthers. I see him as a hybrid between Ricky Proehl and Muhsin Muhammad. Now there are some drawbacks. He doesn’t have great speed, running only a 4.56/40yd at the 2010 combine. Decker’s modest speed will make it difficult to maintain separation from defenders who have good coverage skills, and he won’t take many catches to the house.  All those things that Decker’s detractors say, do have merit.  

So why is Decker the answer then? He has enough question marks surrounding him to hopefully keep the price tag down somewhat. I’m not confident Decker will command as much money as many think. GMs may hesitate to look at Decker as a true #1 receiving threat, even though he is the sexiest name on a large list of receiver free agents.  Maybe this says something about this class of free agents more than it does about Decker.  

This means Decker would be a great fit on a team that isn’t looking for a guy that will come in and be the franchise star, but looking for a consistent producer and potential mentor instead.  
Carolina is that franchise.

If Decker came to Carolina, he wouldn’t have the pressure or limelight that comes with the big free agent wide receiver acquisition because he wouldn’t even be the #1 receiver on the team. If the Panthers also drafted a receiver in the 1st or 2nd round, it would signal that Decker wouldn’t need to be the franchise #1 either. It would clarify Decker’s role in Carolina as team player and mentor. Decker would ease the transition from franchise to future by becoming an instant offensive contributor, but also by mentoring the rookie pick.   

This will all come down to cap room. I am hoping the high number of receiver free agents (50), the number of receivers coming out in the draft this year, the Deckers’ critics will keep the free agent market in check.  With properly structured contract, a little Gettleman magic, and the economic laws of supply and demand, the Panthers just could land Decker and end the Panthers’ receiving woes.

 Co-authored by Joe Riollano and Anthony Dunn

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sign 'em or Sayonara: Carolina Panthers Defensive Free Agents (2014)

The crew evaluates key defensive free agents from the Carolina Panthers.   #greghardy   #mikemitchell   #captainmunnerlyn  +Carolina Panthers FanPage  #quintinmikell  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Charles Godfrey is a Panthers Salary Cap Killer

The only thing Panthers’ GM Dave Gettleman repeated more than “cap challenged” in the post season presser was that he “doesn’t talk contracts.” I wonder why?  Perhaps it’s the indigestion anyone gets when looking at Carolina’s roster status. The Panthers have 21 unrestricted free agents, including Greg Hardy, Mike Mitchell, Ted Ginn, Jr., Graham Gano, and Jordan Gross. Add personnel needs at receiver, in the secondary, and signals that he hopes to lock up Cam Newton up for the long term, and Gettleman has a tough task ahead
Gettleman will certainly need to work some magic with a modest $16m in cap money. Saddled by big money, long-term deals for a war-weary group of veterans, Gettleman can’t cut and cash his way to more cap space in 2014.  The Panthers are on the hook for big bucks to several who offer little trade value.  So if Gettleman did miraculously talk contracts, I’m sure he would scream  “deals like Charles Godfrey’s are killing the Panthers’ cap!”

Godfrey's contract status neatly sums up the challenges facing Carolina in 2014. Godfrey signed a nice 5 yr/$27m contract with $12.4m guaranteed in 2011.  His salary, like most, balloons towards the backend, reaching 5 million in base salary this year. If Gettleman decided to cut Godfrey, it would only free up about $2m in cap space at the tune of a $5m in dead money.  

On the face, it seems that $2m in cap space would be helpful in either signing one of those 21 free agents, two which were productive safeties, or freeing money for Hardy or Newton.  It’s not that clean, however. Gettleman won’t look at this as dollar for dollar savings. Cutting Godfrey would only make the Panthers short another safety, making Mitchell or Mikell that much more important.  Whatever he allocates to paying Mike Mitchell, Quintin Mikell, or some other freelancer would have to be less than the $2m in cap space freed if by cutting Godfrey. The difference, after even more added salary, would too negligible, too risky, and too costly to make such a cut.

Gettleman alluded that guys like Mitchell wouldn’t be satisfied as contract gypsies forever. Mitchell will understandably be looking for some contract stability in 2014 after his difficult journey back to starting status.

An infamous Al Davis project, Mitchell was drafted higher than most Mel Kiper sycophants expected. He had physical talent and potential, but he needed development. Analysts saw potential, but believed the Raiders could have gotten him later in the draft.  Injuries, that needed development, and playing for the Raiders seemed to validate their concerns. Leaving Oakland as a potential draft bust, Mitchell landed in Carolina fighting for a roster spot. Mitchell made the most of the opportunity by playing an important role in Carolina’s defensive success.

While Panther fans, including myself, clamor for Mitchell’s return, he won’t come cheap. Given Mitchell’s success in Carolina, he will want to capitalize, perhaps with a deal similar to Godfrey’s 4yr/$27.4m contract.  The Panthers won’t be able to pay Mitchell anywhere close, likely resulting in him signing a 3yr deal somewhere else.

Subsidizing a roster with 1yr mercenaries isn’t easy. Unloading big contract players coming of injuries is even harder.  Such players, like Charles Godfrey and Jonathan Stewart are tough to trade and have little incentive to restructure. Why would players, whose NFL futures are in question, sacrifice a bird in the hand by restructuring for less?  These guys are solid roster guys when healthy.  Stewart has never been healthy though and Godfrey remains a question mark.

This is what Gettleman means by cap challenged and one of the reasons he won’t talk contracts. When asked about these big ticket, hard to move contracts, he said “it is what it is”--meaning that 16m in cap money “is what it is” and most likely won’t grow too much.

“It is what it is,” and it doesn’t look good. Godfrey and Stewart will be Panthers next year, which isn’t that disheartening until you think of losing Mitchell and Hardy to free agency. Gettleman warned of the possibility when he noted that every organization has had to let a “big dog” walk.

The Panthers roster will change significantly over the next season.  But be sure, Panther fans will see some of the old faces, whether they like the cost or not.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Tweet of the Week (Playoff Loss)

Cat Chronicles is a website created by fans, for fans, who are dedicated to following the Carolina Panthers.  The @Cat_Chronicles brand originated from fan discussion and input, so it is our mission to feature Panther fans because without you, football is just a kids game.  Each week, we will select our favorite tweets related to the Carolina Panthers and fans will vote for Cat Chronicle's Tweet of the Week!  Cast your vote now;  It’s up to you!

Joe’s Pick:

This is my nominee for tweet of the week because it let’s people know why being a fan is so great. We are fans because there s always the element of hope. I know the Panthers season is over, but just like those majestic statues that are out front of the stadium, our dreams don’t just vanish with the end of our season. Those dreams are immovable. After the great season we had as Panthers fans, the hunger for success continues to manifest itself. I can’t wait until next year. Go Panthers, Keep Pounding.

Tony’s Pick:

Well we can thank Gonzo for rekindling that 49ers vs Panthers rivalry of old.  Add the salty Jim Harbaugh to the mix, and you have a team that I will have little problem loathing for eternity.  I hope Seattle crushes you Gonzo, leaving that that nose even more appalling.

Who's Tweet Wins in the Midst of Losing?

Honorable Mentions:

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Carolina Panthers: Building a Legacy

What’s the difference between the Patriots and the Dolphins or the Steelers and the Browns? Is it Super Bowls? Divisional titles? Wins? It’s all these, plus more that define teams’ legacies.  Their identities are more than that of winners and losers, but an expectation of greatness and failure. Sure wins and championships add to a team’s identity, but their legacies hinge on something, deeper and more powerful, something that bonds a fan to a team.  Legacies in the end are forged by truly defining moments. Carolina’s playoff matchup against the 49ers will be a defining moment in the Panthers’ legacy

It’s impossible  to overstate the significance of Sunday’s NFC divisional round playoff game against San Francisco. All season, Carolina has sought relevancy. After an 8 game winning streak, I thought they had found it. The fact that the Panthers are home underdogs has proven me
wrong. We are not respected! Carolina is not respected by the pundits, by opposing fan bases, or by the oddsmakers.

San Francisco is currently favored by anywhere from -1 to -3 on the road against the #2 seed Carolina Panthers.  This is a big slap in the face.  I know Carolina’s schedule did not turn out as tough as it appeared when initially released, but they have won some big games this season. Beating last year’s Super Bowl loser in their house and, the always tough, New England Patriots on Monday Night Football should count for something. The fact that these wins took place in
consecutive weeks makes those victories more impressive. Yet despite this, despite Carolina’s clinching of the NFC South, and despite earning the number two seed in the NFC playoffs, the Panthers are home dogs!

What will it take for Carolina to be taken seriously?

Panthers’ fans are often viewed as a wine and cheese crowd. I don’t know why that is or  whether or not it is deserved, but I do know Carolina fans are not seen as “loyal.” Most other teams fan base’s view the Panthers fans as “bandwagon”.  Why is that? Is it because we are a relatively young franchise? Is it because we haven’t been a traditionally rowdy crowd on game days? Or is it because we have not won enough big time, high profile, all On the Line type games? I think it is the latter. This stigma can be dispelled on Sunday with a win against the 49ers.

There is so much more On the Line than just a NFC Championship game for the Panthers on Sunday against the 49ers. Yes, a shot at the NFC Championship is vitally important, but this game is about the Carolina Panthers' future. It is about this young core of potential superstars on the Carolina roster future. It is about the the organization’s future. It is about the next generation of Panthers fans’ future. This game will go a long way in determining the Panthers legacy--one that will be characterized by expected greatness or anticipated failure.  

A win and we will establish solid footing in another area of concern for this organization’s future. Winning will attract talent. Whether that be through the acquisition of free agents or simply easing the process of signing our own free agents, that does not matter. If we are seen in the eyes of NFL players as a winning organization, they will flock to Charlotte. The city itself is nice enough to garner interest from established players who would be considering moving a family.  It is also attractive to young player who is looking to put down roots somewhere as he starts his family. Charlotte is a great place to live. Coupling the Queen City’s charm with a Panthers franchise dedicated to winning and the attitudes toward Carolina change, amongst fans as well as

Having been a Panthers fan as long as I have, there is really only one scenario I fear above all else. And I never thought it possible until this year. The thought of this team packing up and leaving deeply concerns me. Winning this game would give Panthers fans that truly defining moment they can look at as the bond they established with the Carolina franchise. That connection to the Panthers squashes any chance of this team becoming the Los Angeles Panthers (that just doesn't sound right!) Old J.R. (Jerry Richardson) won’t be around forever and the most assured way we can guarantee this team stays here, in the heart of the South, is to begin this process of converting outside opinions.

There has never been a better time in Panthers franchise history to begin building a winning legacy. We have a young core of potential superstars, and we have a fanbase that is engulfed in Panthers mania. Winning this game Sunday will change the landscape of the NFL and will begin laying the foundation of that legacy. Go Panthers! Keep Pounding.

Playoff Tweet of the Week

Cat Chronicles is a website created by fans, for fans, who are dedicated to following the Carolina Panthers.  The @Cat_Chronicles brand originated from fan discussion and input, so it is our mission to feature Panther fans because without you, football is just a kids game.  Each week, we will select our favorite tweets related to the Carolina Panthers and fans will vote for Cat Chronicle's Tweet of the Week!  Cast your vote now;  It’s up to you!

Joe’s Pick:

What a great tweet. Cam and the Panthers watching, studying the next opponent, and just giving their bodies a much needed rest. Meanwhile Drew Brees and the Saints celebrate beating the NFC Least division champion Philadelphia Eagles. It’s on to round 2 for the Saints, while Cam and company accomplished that a week ago. I find this tweet very apropo. 

Big games this weekend, two rematches in the NFC of regular season match-ups. Can’t wait to see what Seattle does to the Saints this time. Last game, the Saints allowed the junior varsity team to play Seattle. I hope this time the Saints varsity squad makes the trip, or it will once again be U-G-L-Y!   

Yes the Panthers have had a bye week and they are notorious for coming off bye weeks and playing flat, as in flat out terrible. But there is something different about this team. It seems very focused, it is a byproduct of the teams mixture of youthful exuberance and veteran leadership. That plus the ever steady and even keeled “Riverboat” Ron at the helm. Can’t wait to see what SUnday has in store for #PanthersNation

Tony's Pick

Thanks honey for picking up beer on the way home.  I’ll be home from work soon…#Go Panthers CLICK.  I am officially ending all phone calls #GoPanthers after seeing @Michael_Bryan20 ’s.  After the backstabbing Ric Flair episode and the national media’s fawning over San Francisco, Panther Nation needs to ban together.  The Panthers got dangerous when they started believing in themselves.  That is when they started to learn how to win.  Don’t let them down Panther Nation.  Will the 12th man please stand up and yell Go Panthers!!!!

Who's Tweet will advance?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Playoff Preview: San Francisco 49ers vs Carolina Panthers

Who will advance to the NFC Championship? +San Francisco 49ers or +Carolina Panthers ?

Cat Chronicles breaks down the San Francisco 49ers vs Carolina Panthers playoff matchup. We'll be talking +Ric Flair, the dog of Charlotte, asking who is greater Cam or Kaepernick, and debating Sunday's playoff matchup in BoA.  As always we will also be "Breaking Down the Box," nominating our Tweets of the Week, and issuing our ICE UP picks.  We are most excited out our featured guest, 49er analyst from the Bleacher Report, +Peter Panacy.

Be the 12th Man and Join Us Tonight at 9:30 p.m!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Top Receivers in 2014 Draft Class (Potentially)

Here is the most recent piece from a very good friend of the Cat Chronicles Blog, Ken Dye. Ken has been a friend of the Blog from day one and a personal friend of mine for even longer. Here at Cat Chronicles we highly value Ken's thoughts and opinions on all things football. This piece covers the top receivers who could be coming out for this year's draft class. Thanks again to Ken for his contribution. Make sure to follow Ken on Twitter @Ken_Dye. 

Time for a look at the 2014 class of wide receiver prospects for the NFL draft later this year.
There are as many opinions as there are writers on the subject and especially before all the bowl games have been played and underclassmen declare to enter the NFL draft. The deadline isn't until January 15th.

Furthermore, the NFL Combine always has some players fly up the draft board and plummet as people over-analyze, say, 40-yard dash times. Oddly enough, the best rookie WR for 2013 is the San Diego Chargers' Keenan Allen, who had a pedestrian 40-yard dash time at his combine. Right about this time last year, Allen was projected to be a mid-to-late first-round pick, but didn't get selected until the third round.

What Allen lacks in sheer speed, he more than makes up for in cunning awareness and in his precise route-running ability.

I mention all this because while you can't coach speed, you can coach all the other things that Allen has shown a propensity for doing well.  The top five are all underclassmen.

Now, on to the things we know....and the upcoming rookies:

Sammy Watkins (6'1" 205 lbs) from Clemson University is generally regarded as the top WR in his year's class. The junior from the upstate South Carolina school has pretty good 4.47 speed in the 40 and has been very productive in 2013 with 85 receptions, 1287 yards, and 10 TDs.  For the icing on the cake, he set Orange Bowl records against Ohio State for receptions and yards with over 200 yards receiving. That really puts the exclamation point on him and solidifies his position as a sure-fire top-ten draftee. He played his best in the biggest game and that's what NFL coaches covet.

Mike Evans (6'5" 225 lbs) is Johnny Manziel's favorite target, and with that size, it's for good reason. However, the Alshon Jeffery clone has only 4.58 speed and is more of a possession-style WR in the NFL. His size would seem to indicate he'd be a good run-blocker for the position, but he lacks elite speed to get deep. From what I've seen, he's a hands-catcher and goes up over defenders to make the grab. Just ask Auburn OR 'Bama, whom he lit up for over 200 yards each. At the NFL level, he'd be a great security blanket for a young QB like a Geno Smith or Mike Glennon. Negatives are his youth and emotional play - he's going to let others at the NFL level get into his head and will draw a LOT of personal foul - type flags his rookie season. If a team can get over that and wants to take  him in for the long haul, he's only a redshirt sophomore and seemingly the only direction for him is "up."

Marqise Lee (6'0" 195 lbs) from USC doesn't have elite size but runs a 4.49-40. He has an incredibly good work ethic, watching film almost non-stop. He also won the Fred Biletnikoff award for the nation's best receiver, but that doesn't always translate into NFL stardom.  He has an explosively quick first step coming out of his stance and has a way of running the same route with different technique each time, keeping defenders off-balance. That's a nice tool for the toolbox entering the NFL right there and he runs the "stop and go" route very well. Look for a few big plays from this kid as an NFL rookie as he WILL fool some younger NFL defenders once in a while. He needs to work on hand techniques against press coverages and needs to play more a more physical style. That and his pedestrian size these days for the position should be enough to worry NFL general managers enough so that he'll probably see a draft ceiling of about 20th overall as nobody would want to spend a very high pick on someone still this raw and with somewhat limited upside in the short term. I think he's one of those guys who gets to the NFL and that second or third year is when the light bulb will come on for him and he'll really start becoming a very productive wide receiver.

Allen Robinson (6'3" 210 lbs) is from Penn State, and the junior stuck it out with the Nittany Lions through the horrid Jerry Sandusky scandal, which tells me he sticks with things through good and bad, which is a great quality to have in an NFL player at any position. Has a great work ethic that should serve him well and is the one trait that always "translates" well into the NFL. He runs an okay 4.54-40 but has elite body control, strength and leaping ability. He had 97 rec for 1,432 yards while catching passes from a freshman quarterback and looks to be an enticing red-zone receiver at the next level. He needs to improve his focus as he can be inconsistent from one play to the next. I think he could be 2014's Keenan Allen.

Odell Beckam, Jr. (5'11" 193 lbs) from LSU runs a 4.49-40 and projects to be a slot receiver in the NFL due to his less than ideal size. The 2013 Paul Horning winner had an LSU school record 2,222 all-purpose yards and as the stats indicate he is a teriffic kickoff and punt return man. As a receiver, he has great hands, runs great routes, and isn't afraid of contact. Also, like most kick returners, he runs very well after the catch and is very fluid and natural in everything that he does. While he doesn't have the sub-4.40 speed you usually look for in smaller/slot receivers, he more than makes up for it with his versatility.

Florida State sophomore Kelvin Benjamin (6'5" 235 lbs) has similar if not bigger size than NFL stars like Brandon Marshall and Marques Colston. Benjamin's most obvious physical trait is his very long arms and combined with WR/TE "tweener" size, he should present match-up difficulties in the NFL. His best traits are his huge vertical jump, allowing him to go up in traffic and grab passes most defensive backs don't have a prayer of tipping, let alone intercepting  it. He also is an outstanding downfield blocker as you might imagine with his huge size.

While finding a "true" 40-time for him was difficult, he is "estimated" to run a 4.60, which sounds about right for a man that size. He does show close-area quickness that allows him to make the first tackler miss, allowing him to gain additional yards after the catch. He's not a player to "take the top off" a defense but rather yet another "lengthy" WR that the NFL has been moving towards in recent years. On the negative side, he'll be 23 years old as a redshirt sophomore after having to repeat two grades in grade school, so his ability to understand and digest the vast and intricate playbooks in the NFL is quite a concern. He's one of few guys that the Wonderlic test will actually be of some real value. Otherwise, he's had some monster games and has broken out this year, especially in the last nine games, and become a true, consistent threat. Watch for him on Monday night's BCS National Championship game to see how he does against a suspect Auburn secondary.

Jordan Matthews of Vanderbilt (6'3" 205 lbs) is included here because he's the lone senior among the entire list, which shows how many talented underclassmen are bolting for the NFL this year. Matthews runs a 4.55-40...nothing to write home about there. Perhaps the biggest positive he has going for him is that he's a cousin to some guy named Jerry Rice, so the pedigree is there somewhat as an extended family member. Matthews is one of those guys who is an overachiever, having been named first-team all-SEC the last two seasons while being rather average overall athletically (compared to the others on this list). He also holds Vanderbilt's school record with 22 career TD receptions. Earl Bennett is the obvious comparison here since they came from the same school that isn't exactly known as a football factory otherwise. He had 19.0 yds/catch, leading the SEC, but that's more a product of the offensive system which focuses on creating mismatches than great pure ability on his part. He's still worth a look...but only well after the first round.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Did Nature Boy Ric Flair Turn His Back on the Carolina Panthers?

San Francisco's Anthony Davis controversially tweeted from Green Bay:

Most will take issue with Davis's candid description of Green Bay's accomodations and facilities.  I really don't have a problem with that though.  The room does look pretty dated.  What really gets my goat is that Nature Boy Ric Flair met with the +San Francisco 49ers for a little pep talk.  Could it be? Did the Nature Boy turn his back on Panthers Nation?  I think not.  

Can I get two claps and a Ric Flair?  WHOOOOOOOO!!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Two Claps and a Ric Flair--the Panthers Watch Wildcard in Wait!

"Listen up...listen up... the task is not complete," according to Ron Rivera, but damn #PantherNation can I get two claps and Ric Flair because the Panthers are in the playoffs! It feels good doesn't it?

According to Rivera, the Panthers "haven't played to their ability" yet, but they will need to in two weeks if we want this feeling to continue.   Wildcard weekend is so much more exciting when you got some skin in the game, and we have some skin in this game. The +New Orleans Saints venture into Philly this weekend, most likely go to Philly to face Chip Kelly's +Philadelphia Eagles.  This looks to be a tough matchup for the Saints, who struggle mightily on the road.  While their defense is much improved, Philadelphia has been beating people with a more traditional offensive schema than many expected from the former Duck Dynasty Kelly.  I'm guessing +Chip Kelly will mix it up a little in the playoffs.

If the Eagles win this matchup, they will have to then come to Bank of America.  If the Saints finally get a road win, Carolina will play the winner of +San Francisco 49ers vs +Green Bay Packers.

Sure to be a tough matchup whomever the opponent, it's awesome to be in the playoffs.

So #PantherNation can I get Two Claps and a Ric Flair! 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Wildcard Weekend Preview

Tonight the guys will be looking to Wildcard Weekend in anticipation of the +Carolina Panthers first playoff berth since 2008.  Who will it be? +Green Bay Packers+San Francisco 49ers+Philadelphia Eagles, or +New Orleans Saints?   We will also "Break Down the Box" of the win over the +Atlanta Falcons and feature a Tweet of the Week and our weekly ICE UP picks.  If you are a 12th man, check us out 9:30 p.m. #keeppounding

Tweet of the Week 17: Panthers Over Falcons to Clinch Division

Cat Chronicles is a website created by fans, for fans, who are dedicated to following the Carolina Panthers.  The @Cat_Chronicles brand originated from fan discussion and input, so it is our mission to feature Panther fans because without you, football is just a kids game.  Each week, we will select our favorite tweets related to the Carolina Panthers and fans will vote for Cat Chronicle's Tweet of the Week!  Cast your vote now;  It’s up to you!

Joe’s Pick:

This is my nominee for tweet of the week because I think it sews up every Panthers fans desire. I would like nothing more than to see a rematch of the 2003 Super Bowl played ten years later. Super Bowl XXXVIII was one of the greatest ever played. Two teams battled it out and in the end Tom Brady marched his team into field goal range and Adam Vinatieri broke the hearts of Panthers fans with a 41 yard field goal late to win it.

The Panthers defeated the Patriots in a big Monday night game this season, but it did not really dampen the desire I have for beating the the Pats in a Super Bowl, that would be sweet revenge. I have heard it said, revenge is a dish best served cold; isn’t the Super Bowl in New York this year? Gets pretty cold there in February. Just sayin….

Tony’s Pick:

#NoSpoons may just be the next hit fan hashtag for #PantherNation until the next piece of fan gold from the Kraken.  Greg Hardy’s 4 sack performance this past week against the Falcons perfectly memorialised his 2013 season.  Racking up 7 sacks over the last two weeks and 15 total for the season, the Hardy has certainly made the most of his contract year.  Hardy’s dominance, however, isn’t constrained to the football field.  The Kraken even dominates the most important meal of the day--breakfast!  Check the linked Instagram vid of Hardy’s press conference antics and you will only love him more!

Who's Tweet Reigns Supreme NY

Honorable Mentions: