CHARLOTTE – It worked once for the Carolina Panthers, so why not try it again?
The Panthers took a page from last year’s NFL draft script and traded away next year’s first-round draft pick, a move that enabled them to select Florida State defensive end Everette Brown with the 43rd overall pick. The Panthers had their eye on Brown going into the draft and viewed him as a first-round pick. When he slipped out of the first round, the Panthers quickly began making phone calls to a number of teams with high picks in the second round.
“We said coming in if he was there at a certain spot we would try to get him,” general manager Marty Hurney said. “We talked to several teams and were able to get the deal done with San Francisco and we also got the extra fourth rounder (11th overall) which will help us.”
Hurney said the Panthers entered the draft looking to add a pass rusher and feel like they’ve dramatically upgraded in that area.
“Everette has a knack for rushing the passer and has pass rush moves,” Hurney said. “We feel like he will come in and help us right away. Generating a pass rush was one of our priorities and we think he will do that.”
Hurney said the move didn’t have anything to do with the uncertainty surrounding franchised defensive end Julius Peppers, who has said he doesn’t want to play for the Panthers.
“We certainly expect and hope that Julius is back,” Hurney said. “But still with Julius back, rushing the passer every year becomes more and more critical. You have to get pressure on the quarterback and when you can get pressure on the front four it makes things a lot easier on your defense. That is one of the needs we saw coming in. We thought he fit it very well."
A year ago, the Panthers traded away their first-round pick in 2009 for the right to move up to get offensive tackle Jeff Otah with the 19th pick in the 2008 draft.
NO OFFERS: Hurney said the Panthers didn’t receive any offers for defensive end Julius Peppers through his agent Carl Carey. Carey did not return phone calls.
THE SIZE FACTOR: At 6-foot-2 and 256 pounds, Brown is a bit undersized for a 4-3 defensive end but he possesses excellent speed and strength. At the NFL scouting combine he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.73 seconds and bench-pressed 225 pounds 26 times.
He’s been compared to Indianapolis Colts defensive end Robert Mathis. Of course, Mathis played for new Panthers defensive coordinator Ron Meeks. Brown comes to Carolina with a reputation for being a high-motor guy.
“With my effort and the passion I play the game with, it speaks for itself,” Brown said. “I feel like I can't be denied and I'm going to play 110 percent and play 110 miles per hour every play, full speed.”
MORE ON MARTIN: After two injury-plagued seasons, cornerback Sherrod Martin was fully healthy in 2008, going on to establish himself as one of the premier pass defenders in the South.
He tied the school single-game record and set an NCAA record for most interceptions in a quarter, picking off three passes in the second quarter in the 2008 Alcorn State game. Those were Martin's first interceptions since Oct. 20, 2005 vs. Florida International. Since then he has undergone three major operations and missed one entire season.
One of the hardest hitting safeties in college football, Martin was known for initiating contact. He ranks 14th in the school's storied history with 292 tackles, which are the second most by a Trojans defensive back. His 191 solo stops rank 10th overall and set the school all-time record for secondary performers.
Martin returned to action in 2007 and was brought along slowly the first two games, but he suffered bone fractures in his hand vs. Florida that required surgery, keeping him on the sidelines for the next two games. When he returned, he went on to start six contests as the team's nickel back. He posted 52 tackles (35 solos), sixth on the team, as he tallied three sacks and nine stops for loss. He also caused a school single-season record six fumbles. Martin returned to his familiar position at free safety for the 2008 season, starting all 13 games.
“It’s about basically making sure I can come in and transition from the college to the pros,” Martin said. “I’m a playmaker and I’m always around the ball. I’m a smart guy as far as knowing what is going on around the field. They’re going to get a hard ball player.”
LOOKING AHEAD: The Panthers have five picks on Sunday – a third rounder (93rd), two fourths (111th and 128th), a fifth 163rd) and a sixth (202nd).