When Montreal Allouettes general manager Jim Popp came on WFNZ’s ‘The Drive’ while I was guest hosting Monday, he estimated that new Panthers’ offensive tackle David Foucault would need two-to-three more years before he’d be ready to start in the CFL. Some fans saw that as Popp talking with a mouth full of sour grapes.
He used his fifth-overall pick on Foucault in last week’s CFL draft, so it’s plausible Popp was irked to lose such a high pick to the NFL. But that wasn’t the case.
Popp is a Mooresville native and resident, who splits time between North Carolina and Canada. He’s a Panthers season ticket holder, and he’s a highly-respected judge of talent.
The reason behind Popp’s estimate is the fact that Foucault’s extremely raw. Sure, at 6-7, 305, he has eye-popping measurables, but he played tackle for one season at Montreal University.
It doesn’t matter how much the thought of Byron Bell at left tackle scares you, Foucault is not going to factor in 2014. He would have been a project up north, so he’s certainly a project down here.
So why would a GM use a top-five pick on a guy who’s at least two years away from starting anywhere in North America? It’s because the CFL draft is much different from the NFL draft.
A top-five pick in the NFL isn’t just expected to play, he needs to be a difference-maker from day one. The expectations aren’t the same up north.
“We draft players in our draft for development. We have a game inside the game. We have a ratio, a Canadian ratio, a non-important ratio where you have to carry X amount of guys that fall into that category. So we draft that way,” Popp explained. “Most of our players that fall in that category are offensive lineman, so we always draft o-lineman, and it’s a developmental process to put them in there.”
So there were no sour grapes. Popp was just calling it like he and most other evaluators see it.
OTHER INTERVIEW HIGLIGHTS
On defensive tackle Linden Gaydosh, the No. 1 pick in last year’s CFL draft, who remains on the Panthers’ roster after back surgery cost him all of 2013 - Popp: “They’re just building depth (at defensive tackle). Now whether Linden ever plays there, he’s worth looking at. There’s no question about it.”
On defensive end Alex Hall, who the Panthers signed this offseason after the St. Augustine product racked up 15 sacks for Winnipeg last year - Popp: “He’s well worth being in someone’s training camp and can help a team. It’s just building depth for the Panthers because that’s where their strength is.”
With three players that have CFL ties currently on their roster, are the Panthers tapping a new and, until now, secretive pipeline into Canada? - Popp: “There’s been a number of teams in the NFL who have always traditionally looked at the Canadian Football League for talent. The Panthers haven’t traditionally been that team.”
Popp was a candidate for the Panthers’ GM job that ultimately went to Dave Gettleman, so how does he think Gettleman has handled this offseason? - Popp: “The Panthers have major issues. They did before Dave Gettleman came in. It’s just a building process. They probably will take a little step backwards this year before they take that giant leap forward. I think everybody was a little surprised they were as good as they were a season ago and you have to give them a lot of credit.”
On Gettleman’s decision to release the team’s most popular player and best receiver - Popp: “My son’s favorite player in the NFL is Steve Smith. My own son was very upset. But when I look at it as a general manager, I understand it. Now it is strange looking from the outside to not have one receiver back that caught one pass last year. But I will say this, as a group, they may have improved their receiving corps.”
- The Panthers have contracts with half their draft class already. Sixth-round running back Tyler Gaffney signed Saturday. Fourth-round safety Tre Boston and fifth-round cornerback Bene Benwikere finished their business Tuesday. Then they took a great pic. – Twitter
- Charlotte-based lawyer on Greg Hardy: “He should feel a lot better now.” – BBR
- A day after he was released by the Panthers, guard Travis Bond landed in St. Louis. – PFT
- Kawann Short visits a school in his hometown. - Carolina Huddle
We had a long chat with receivers coach Ricky Proehl after Panthers’ rookie minicamp wrapped up. He shared plenty of thoughts about Kelvin Benjamin, the made-over wideout corps and his current relationship with Steve Smith.
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