Carolina Panthers

Dear Mr. Gettleman: Jamal Adams falling to No. 8 is a big ‘if’ – but what if he does?

LSU safety Jamal Adams ran a pedestrian – for him – 4.5 40 at the NFL scouting combine, but clocked 4.33 on Wednesday at his pro day in Baton Rouge, La.
LSU safety Jamal Adams ran a pedestrian – for him – 4.5 40 at the NFL scouting combine, but clocked 4.33 on Wednesday at his pro day in Baton Rouge, La. AP

Dear Mr. Gettleman,

I’m sure you’ve heard the news by now. Jamal Adams needed to run the 40-yard dash at LSU’s Pro Day, and by the time he leaned through the finish, jaws were on the turf.

His first official attempt, at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, wasn’t “him,” he said – and apparently that’s true. Adams’ 4.5-second mosey in March was a long way from Wednesday’s blazing-fast 4.33, by NFL testing standards. Chatter around the media contingent – and hoots from some NFL personnel and several LSU teammates – signaled Adams’ solidified case as a top-10 pick in this year’s NFL draft, with his chance at becoming a top-5 pick rising every day.

“I felt like I had something to prove,” said Adams, amiable and trying hard not to puff up too much at the podium. But with a time like that, and Adams’ impressive on-field skills, it was OK for the kid to daydream a little.

“Hopefully I go top-4,” he said.

That would make him the highest-drafted defensive back from LSU since 2011’s Patrick Peterson (No. 5 overall) and the highest LSU player to be selected since Tyson Jackson in 2009.

In the top 10, every player is very good. The minutes between No. 1 and No. 8 will stretch achingly as phenomenal prospects the Panthers could very well want are snatched away. And Adams seems all but a lock to be long gone by the time Carolina gets its turn.

But what if – and it’s a big ‘if’ – he’s not?

Ahead of the Panthers

Mr. Gettleman, Adams got to do it – so let me daydream a bit, too, about some “what if” scenarios.

With the No. 1 overall pick, the Cleveland Browns are almost certainly going to take Texas A&M pass rusher Myles Garrett. It would be very “Browns” of them to not do so – especially with the flood of picks they possess later down the line. If they don’t pick Garrett, then they will almost certainly go quarterback.

If they go quarterback, Garrett falls to No. 2 overall. And don’t be mistaken; even if the Browns pass, Garrett won’t slip further than No. 2. That slot is the San Francisco 49ers’, and they also need a quarterback. Either way, Adams isn’t picked top-2.

So that leaves Adams to the Bears, but they need a corner, too. Let’s say they pick Ohio State phenom Marshon Lattimore – NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah predicts this in his latest mock draft. Panthers fans begin to hyperventilate – now Jacksonville is up, and they need a running back. And they just might snatch LSU’s Leonard Fournette right out from under Carolina. Or, they take Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas to fill the void left by Jared Odrick.

And at No. 5, the Tennessee Titans need a receiver for Marcus Mariota, so they pick either Western Michigan’s Corey Davis, Clemson’s Mike Williams or Alabama tight end O.J. Howard (which, of course, leaves two of those players around juuuuust in case).

At No. 6, the Jets need either a quarterback or a safety. There will be quarterbacks around, and if they go safety, what if they pick Malik Hooker? That leaves San Diego to scoop up Solomon Thomas to help in their 4-3 (if the Jets don’t do it before they can). The Chargers could also really use a top wide receiver, and while many mocks project them taking a safety (i.e., Hooker), what if...what if...what if...?

At No. 8, the Panthers would have quite the choice to make. What if Adams is still on the board?

Don’t bite, Mr. Gettleman

Adams is a tempting choice for Carolina. The team has taken a defensive player with its first overall pick all but twice since 2011 and spent the offseason stacking the defensive deck. Plus, by the time the draft comes around, Adams will have reportedly visited with the Panthers staff twice.

But don’t bite, Mr. Gettleman.

It won’t help you sleep any better at night, knowing Adams went to another team, it’s true. The kid plans to be be a Hall of Famer someday. But a No. 8 pick in this draft who isn’t an immediate offensive impact player is, in my mind, a huge mistake. Carolina’s truly dismal performance in just about every phase of the offense in 2016, plus the stockpiling of prolific veterans on the defense in free agency really exposes the need for an immediate offensive factor with top-10 talent.

Adams would be a really, really nice addition to the Panthers defense, it’s true. But you want to win a Super Bowl in your “window,” and you have a veteran defense that (let’s face it) is going to be very, very good anyway – but has limited time. You signed a veteran safety who just went to back-to-back Pro Bowls in Mike Adams. You have ever-steady Kurt Coleman. You have depth now in Tre Boston, and Adams (the younger) would expect to be a starter immediately – essentially wasting the deal with Adams (the elder).

You don’t need Adams if it means picking him over an offensive star.

Mr. Gettleman, you need your next franchise offensive player. You need what Luke Kuechly was for the defense in 2012.

And at No. 8, he’ll be there.

Jourdan Rodrigue: 704-358-5071, @jourdanrodrigue

The Carolina Panthers are not going away and will get the things that went wrong in the 2016 season corrected, Dave Gettleman said.

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