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Carolina Panthers 2000 Draft

Here's a look at the players the Panthers picked in the 2000 draft. (Written in April 2000.)

Round 1 ~ Round 2 ~ Round 3 ~ Round 4
Round 5 ~ Round 6 ~ Round 7 ~ Undrafted free agents

 

Round 1 (No. 23 overall)

Rashard Anderson, cornerback, Jackson State
6-2 1/2, 204 pounds
40-yard dash time: 4.43
1998 stats:
51 tackles, 11 passes broken up and 4interceptions
1999 stats:
47 tackles, 9 passes broken up and 3 interceptions

Prior to the draft, The Sporting News hailed Anderson as the "darling" among this year's crop of cornerbacks. "Anderson may not be as polished and his level of competition is a concern, but his natural size and skill have sparked tremendous interest."

Playing in Division 1-AA, Anderson hasn't faced top competition, but Coach George Seifert has a history of drafting players who may be short on experience but long on athletic ability.

His size will give him an advantage against the taller wide receivers in the league, including the 49ers' Terrell Owens, who the Panthers face twice; the Vikings' Randy Moss; and the Chiefs' No. 1 draft pick, Sylvester Morris, who Anderson faced in practice at Jackson State.

Here are more highlights from The Sporting News' scouting report: "He's most effective in single-man coverage. ... Has natural hands and the ability to snatch ball in air. ... Most intriguing prospect because of size/speed combination. Could jump to head of class because of tremendous upside."

Pro Football Weekly notes that "When on top of his game, Anderson can take some receivers out of the game when he is playing bump-and-run. ... A competitor."

Speculation abounds that Anderson will be converted to safety.

However, on Draft Day, Seifert said, "Initially we'll work him at the corner." But, he added, "In my mind there's no doubt he can play the safety spot. ... It's essential to have one safety in your secondary who can come up and play man-to-man coverage because of the three-wide-receiver offenses that we see so much. He has excellent range and he's a good, sound tackler. ... I would say his size influenced us a great deal because of the size of receivers we're facing in the league. I've always been partial to the bigger defensive back.''

Jack Bushofsky, the Panthers' director of player personnel, also was full of praise. ''This guy to me is the epitome of what you're looking for out of a potential safety/corner,'' Bushofsky told the Charlotte Observer. ''You're talking about a guy who's 6-2 1/2 and 210 pounds who runs with the small corners. Maybe I'm going overboard on it, but I just see unlimited future with him."

 

Round 2 (57th overall)

Deon Grant, safety, Tennessee
6-2, 205 pounds
40-yard dash time: 4.40
1998 stats:
62 tackles and 5 interceptions, broke up six passes and blocked a kick
1999 stats: 69 tackles and 9 interceptions (tied for Division I-A lead) and 1 TD

Grant, who is leaving college after his junior year, seems to be a second-round steal. The Sporting News and USA Today had him rated as the top safety for his cover skills. Grant is likely to use his drop as a motivating factor.

The Sporting News raved that the speedy Grant "can backpedal and burst out of cuts. ... Can match up on slot receiver. ... Plays excellent 'center field.' Gets great jump on ball, rarely wastes motion. Outstanding at reading keys; not fooled by play-action. ... Good hands. ... Great height and can jump with just about anybody. Good feel for playing ball and does nice job snatching it in air."

The knock against Grant is that he's not aggressive enough as a tackler, but Pro Football Weekly points out that Grant may have "jumped the gun" coming out of school early. He still has to develop as a tackler.

The upside, according to Pro Football Weekly is that Jordan is "a real ballhawk who makes big plays. Has a chance to get much better."

 

Round 3 (82nd overall)

Leander Jordan, guard, Indiana (Pa.)
6-4, 330 pounds
40-yard dash time: 5.3

Jordan is one of Seifert's Senior Bowl gems. "He learned a lot of technique at the Senior Bowl and found out what NFL football was going to be about," Pro Football Weekly reports. "He seemed to respond to the intensity of the Senior Bowl and showed intensity and toughness he had not shown in other games."

Pro Football Weekly praises his great size and natural strength. He's a versatile athlete, but has a limited football background and hasn't faced top competition at Division II Indiana (Pa.). In high school, Jordan was a basketball player and played just one year of football. In college, he became a starter midway through the 1996 season. He started at tackle in 1997 and guard in '98 and '99.

Jordan is rated as "a long-range prospect with a lot of potential and upside. ... If somebody is patient with him, he could become a real player in time." That somebody could be the Panthers' offensive line guru, Tony Wise.

The Charlotte Observer reports that Jordan is projected as right guard and won't be put him in a starting role right away. "Initially, he'll add to the depth of the offensive line," Seifert said. "Hopefully, in the future, he'll be able to compete for a starting job."

 

Round 4 (120th overall)

George Seifert (AKA "Monty Hall') seemed delighted to have pulled off some "wheeling and dealing" for the entertainment of the ESPN audience. A swap of second-round spots with Tampa Bay gave Carolina the fourth-round spot they lacked, having sent it to the Denver Broncos as part of the compensation for Jeff Lewis, acquired in a trade before the 1999 draft.

Alvin McKinley, defensive tackle, Mississipi State
6-3 1/2, 290
40-yard dash time: 5.34
1998 stats: 35 tackles, 6 for loss (played in each game, but was not starter)
1999 stats: 56 tackles, 4 for loss, 2 sacks (started all but one game)

The Sporting News writes: "Good inside quickness and nice first step. Good body control. Gets leverage out of stance. Penetrates enough to disrupt blocking. Quicker than fast. ... Active and productive player, but size is a concern."

Pro Football Weekly seemed to have less of a problem with McKinley's size: "Has adequate size and very long arms. Plays bigger than his size. Moves around pretty well. May not have 40-yard-dash speed but has quickness. Can penetrate and get up the field fairly well."

On the other had, PFW, says he "Lacks great size and stopwatch speed. Has a tendency to play too upright, which negates his strength. May not have the speed to play outside."

 

Round 5 (147th overall)

Gillis Wilson, defensive end, Southern University
6-2, 282

The Sporting News reports that "Wilson has good speed and ability to get around the corner as a pass rusher. ... Led team with 16 tackles-for-loss and eight sacks.

Wilson was named SWAC defensive player of the week for Oct. 3, 1999. In Southern's 21-6 win over previously unbeaten and nationally-ranked Hampton, Wilson had three sacks for 25 lost yards and also had seven tackles (5 solo, 2 assists).

 

Round 6 (182nd overall)

Jeno James, offensive lineman, Auburn
6-3, 300
40-yard dash: 5.56

He enrolled at Auburn as a defensive lineman in 1995, but moved to offense and redshirted. He's a durable player, starting every game the past four years on the offensive line. Pro Football Weekly notes that he has long arms, with decent movement skills. However, PFW also points out that he does not run well and needs to generate more power with his lower body.

The Sporting News reports that he is a "Fluid player but not athletic." But he "explodes into blocks and drives legs to finish. ... Has strength to develop into punishing run-blocker if takes better angles." He's praised as a "tenacious, aggressive, physical blocker."

 

Round 7 (221st overall)

Lester Towns, linebacker, Washington
6-1 1/2, 248
40-yard dash: 4.85

1997: Started every game and led team in tackles with 89.
1998: Dropped a 45-pound weight on his foot, did not play well.
1999: Came on late after follow-up foot surgery, had 69 tackles, 9 stops for loss and 3 passes broken up.

Here's another player that got Seifert's attention during the Senior Bowl. Pro Football Weekly comes right out and says it: "May have gotten himself drafted at the Senior Bowl."

What else? "Huge hands, long arms, big hitter. Can cause fumbles and strip ballcarriers." But: "Just average ability to read and react. Does not break down and tackle that well in the open field. Looks a little stiff and is not very aware in pass coverage."

The Sporting News reports that he "covers a lot of ground and shows good burst to ball. Has great natural strength and will match up well between tackles in NFL. ... Not huge threat as pass rusher but shows ability to push pocket when blitzing. ... When healthy, is aggressive. Can play every down."

He's fully healed from a foot injury and rarin' to go.

 


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