In the NFL Draft a couple weeks ago, four former Mountaineers heard their names called during the three day event: Brandon Hogan, Robert Sands, J.T. Thomas, and Chris Neild. Usually by now, in a non-lockout season, these players would be going through minicamps with their new teams and we can get a feel about how they are going to fit in with their respective new teams through player and coach interviews. However, with the lockout, players are not permitted to even have contact with their new teams (although some of that has probably happened). There were a few players drafted in the 1st round who were able to get their hands on playbooks during the brief stint that the NFL was open for business. During day two of the draft, the 8th U.S. Circuit court of appeals in St. Louis granted a stay of the lockout. Some of the 1st round picks who had rushed to their new team's headquarters after getting picked were forced to leave.
This did not apply to Hogan, Sands, Thomas, or Neild. What contact they have received from their new teams would come from current players on the Panthers, Bengals, Bears, and Redskins rosters. In this first article of a four part series on the new WVU pros, we will tell you what their new teams think of them and what the local media believes. We kick it off with the first Mountaineer selected, Brandon Hogan.
Brandon Hogan- Pick #98, Carolina Panthers: The Panthers organization is in full-on rebuilding mode and with a lack of depth at corner and the fact that one of last year's starters at corner may not be in a Panther uniform the next time football is played, Hogan finds himself in a fortunate position. At worst, he'll be a 2nd string corner coming in on dime packages. He could also see some time on special teams and even possibly at safety. Hogan spoke with Panthers.com about being drafted. He said that he should be able to run again in August after tearing his ACL in December and answered some hard questions asked about his previous arrests.
Here is what his GM and new Head Coach had to say about Hogan:
"He's a very good player, a very, very good corner. His skill level is high," Panthers GM, Marty Hurney said of Hogan. "Football is very important to him. He knows he can't make any more bad decisions. It came down to decision making. He admits he made bad decisions. He knows he can't make any more bad decisions."
"I laid it out," Panthers new Head Coach, Ron Rivera said. "There's no three strikes you're out. You're here to do it our way, the right way, the Panthers' way. If not, there will be some consequences.He seemed to understand that."
Here is how the Charlotte media breaks down Hogan:
"In the fourth round Carolina selected West Virginia cornerback Brandon Hogan. He's had issues off the field. But after (the Panthers) winning two games last season, the onus is about what players do on the field," -Tom Sorensen, Charlotte Observer.
"With Richard Marshall expected to leave via free agency and Chris Gamble coming off a terrible season, Hogan could have a great shot to compete - if he's healthy. He had reconstructive surgery on his left knee in December and said he will not be able to run full-speed until August"- Joseph Person, Charlotte Observer
"Brandon Hogan has a deep understanding of what it takes to succeed at cornerback," wrote Brandon Strickland of Panthers.com. "Now Hogan just has to work on getting healthy enough to contribute at cornerback for the Panthers. When at full speed, Hogan was a handful for opposing offenses."
Panther beat reporter, David Scott, thinks that the Panthers started the third day of the draft with the selection of Hogan the same way they led off the draft when they drafted Cam Newton: by taking a high-risk, high reward player. The Panthers have had good results in developing young defensive players. The Panthers demoted former DC, Ron Meeks, to his old position as DB coach. Philadelphia Eagle castoff, Sean McDermott was brought in to run the defense. Which is good because Hogan will probably fit in with McDermott's new system than he would have with Meeks' old system.
So, it appears as the only things that will keep Brandon Hogan from being successful as a Panther are his knee and Brandon Hogan.