Panthers address O-line needs by drafting Oklahoma tackle Daryl Williams
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Fans and media types alike screamed from the mountaintops throughout last year’s NFL Draft, and through the first two days of this year’s selection process, for the Carolina Panthers to draft an offensive tackle. Team general manager Dave Gettleman finally obliged by taking Daryl Williams of Oklahoma with the third pick of the fourth round on Saturday.
However, there’s one little caveat — Williams will most likely play right tackle, not the coveted and all-important left tackle position which Carolina needed. On the other hand, Gettleman said Williams will work at both positions.
Where Williams excels is in run blocking. He is a masher. As a result, don’t be surprised to see him lined up almost immediately on the line in short-yardage situations.
"Daryl is big, he’s powerful, he’s got good enough athletic ability, long-armed kid with big gloves," Gettleman said. "He’s exactly what we’re looking for. We had a third-round value on him and he was too good to pass up. He gives us position flexibly, versatility."
As a result, Gettleman made a trade for the second straight day to get the Oklahoma product: Carolina sent three picks — a fourth-rounder, one of its three fifth-rounders and a seventh — to Oakland to move up 22 spots. On Friday, the Panthers traded up to get Michigan receiver Devin Funchess.
"The fact that we sat tight in free agency last year and didn’t binge because of the late $5 million jump in the cap and we held our water and we ended up getting two fifth round comps out of it, and that gives us the ability to do it," Gettleman said. "We did not give up a draft pick in next year’s draft. That was one thing we were not going to do. But, Oakland was willing to take the offer.
"Again, it’s about value obviously. Just like Devin, Daryl was too good of a value to pass up in that spot. He was too good."
For Williams, the wait was painful. While he didn’t expect to be drafted in the first round, he thought for sure he’d go either in the second or third round Friday night.
"I’m not going to lie, I was devastated," he said. "Yesterday was a long day. Hey, they traded up for me today, someone drafted me, it was the Panthers and I thank them for that. All I need is an opportunity."
With the first of their two remaining fifth-round picks, the Panthers selected inside linebacker David Mayo out of Texas State. Considering whom Carolina already has patrolling the middle with Luke Kuechly, it was a curious pick, to say the least.
During his final season at Texas State, Mayo had 154 tackles, which garnered him Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors. He was second in the nation at 12.8 tackles per game. Even so, it still seems rather odd that the Panthers took two linebackers in their first four picks considering that linebacker is the strongest position on the team.
However, true to his word, Gettleman has maintained all along that the team would take the best player available.
It feels safe to say that Mayo will be a fixture on special teams, where Carolina desperately needs improvement.
With their second fifth-round pick, and their last overall pick of the day, the Panthers took Auburn running back Cameron Artis-Payne. It’s a spot Carolina needed to address.
Last season at Auburn, Artis-Payne rushed for 1,608 yards, the third-best mark in school history. He also led the SEC with 123.7 yards per game.
He and veteran Fozzy Whitaker will do battle to see which one becomes the primary backup for starter Jonathan Stewart.
In every single grading procedure, Artis-Payne has average or marginal rankings. However, he’s produced when given the chance. He may not have the greatest of speed or power, but he has natural instincts and, ultimately, gets the job done.