Carolina Panthers Retrospective
DRAFT RECAP: Panthers upgrade defense in 2009 NFL Draft E-mail
Written by Steve Reed   
Sunday, 26 April 2009 18:11
   CHARLOTTE – Given their meltdown in the second half of the 2008 season, it was no surprise the Carolina Panthers focused on upgrading their defense in the NFL draft.
   After allowing more than 389 yards and 29 points per game over the final seven games last season the Panthers predictably spent their first three picks addressing the defensive side of the ball.
   One day after trading away their first-round pick in 2010 to draft Florida State defensive end Everette Brown and selecting cornerback Sherrod Martin from Troy later in the second round, the Panthers grabbed Corvey Irvin from Georgia in the third round, giving them some much-needed depth at defensive tackle.
   “Last year we went primarily offense (in the draft) and I think it was about time we injected some guys in there on defense,” Panthers coach John Fox said Sunday night.
   The Panthers turned to offense in the fourth round landing running back Mike Goodson from Texas A&M and fullback Tony Fiammetta from Syracuse. Carolina then turned to the offensive line, taking Oklahoma guard Duke Robinson in the fifth round before adding South Carolina cornerback Captain Munnerlyn in the seventh.
   Here’s a breakdown of Sunday’s picks:
   *The 6-foot-3, 303-pound Irvin comes to Carolina after spending just one season as a starter at Georgia. He said he felt like a “lost kid” after graduating from high school but two years at the Georgia Military College gave him “a second chance at life.” He made the most of it, parlaying one decent season at Georgia into becoming a third-round draft pick.
   “He has quickness and he’s disruptive inside,” said Panthers general manager Marty Hurney. “We think he gets good penetration and we think he’s a very good player.”
   *Goodson left Texas A&M early after falling out of graces with the coaching staff there, but the Panthers view him as a solid all-around threat. Along with seeing time at running back, look for him to line up as a slot receiver. He could also return kicks.
   “He’s an explosive player who makes big plays,” Hurney said. “He has good hands and can be a receiver out of the backfield and move around and make big plays.”
   *The Panthers see Fiammetta as a possible long-term solution at fullback since Brad Hoover’s 33-year-old body isn’t getting any younger.
   “He’s athletic,” Hurney said. “He blocks well and we thought he was a very good fit for us.”
   *Carolina finally turned its attention to the offensive line in the fifth round, taking Duke Robinson, a 6-foot-5, 329 pound guard from Oklahoma. He’s clearly a guy the Panthers view as a bit of steal in the fifth round.
   The Panthers lost veteran linemen Geoff Hangartner, Frank Omiyale and Jeremy Bridges in the off-season. With Robinson leading the way, Oklahoma shattered NCAA season records for scoring, as its total of 716 points topped the previous record of 656 points, set by Hawaii in 2006.
   “He’s a guy that is extremely talented and we thought in the fifth round he was an extremely good value there,” Hurney said. “He fits what we want to do on the offensive line and he’s a powerful blocker.”
   *The Panthers traded out of the sixth round and selected Munnerlyn from South Carolina with their final pick. They also picked up Oakland’s sixth-round pick in the 2010 draft for moving down 14 spots.
   “We had him higher on the board,” Hurney said. “He’s very quick and he’s a very competitive player and we feel like he was an excellent pick in the seventh round.”
   The Panthers will get their first look at their seven draft picks – as well a dozen or so undrafted free agents they’ll sign Monday – this weekend at a three-day minicamp in Charlotte.
   “We won’t really know until we get going, but we feel like each and every one of them has a chance to come in and contribute this year,” Hurney said.