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Patience a virtue in draft for Panthers decision-makers
GM Marty Hurney insists measured approach is best
 
Published Tuesday, April 24, 2018 5:08 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

The Carolina Panthers will let the NFL Draft come to them.


Set to pick 24th in first round of the league’s April 26-28 selection meeting, general manager Marty Hurney does not intend to chase the board in his first draft since being named interim general manager after the Panthers fired Dave Gettleman in July. While Gettleman drafted players like running back/wide receiver Christian McCaffrey last year, Hurney’s job is to improve the talent on a team that earned a postseason berth and an 11-5 season.

“Don’t get caught up in the moment,” Hurney said. “Let the board come to you.”
Said coach Ron Rivera: “The biggest thing more than anything else is the position of need for us at that point. That’s one of the biggest things that I look at.”

Hurney has taken the Panthers to the playoffs four times since his first stint as general manager 2002-2012, including their first Super Bowl appearance in 2003.

Significant draft picks and coaching decisions during Hurney’s initial tenure as general manager include hiring Rivera in 2011, selecting quarterback Cam Newton, linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, center Ryan Kalil and defensive end Charles Johnson. He also acquired tight end Greg Olsen.


After four years of watching the draft at home or listening on the radio in his car, Hurney is approaching the draft with patience. He intends to conduct business the same way Carolina approached free agency, noting the “comfort level” from signing veterans gives him heading into the weekend. Carolina brought in 29 draft-eligible players, who met with coaches and staff.

“We’ve done well in free agency, being very thorough, which we always are,” Hurney said. “Probably patience is the key word. We let free agency come to us. Starting Thursday night, we are extremely well prepared. We’ve covered all scenarios, and now you just let the board come to you. You don’t fall in love with a player. You don’t overreact. You just try to do what you think is best. Every draft has a different character to it.”

Carolina is undergoing significant changes, from the impending sale of the team, to new defensive and offensive coordinators (Eric Washington and Norv Turner respectively), new quarterbacks coach (Scott Turner, Norv’s son) and new defensive line coach (Brady Hoke, who is making his NFL coaching debut).
The Panthers were busy adding players during the offseason with receivers Torrey Smith (via trade Philadelphia) and free agent signee Jarius Wright (Minnesota) as well as Jeremiah Sirles at guard.


On defense, they added cornerback Ross Cockrell, a Charlotte Latin alumnus, defensive tackle Dontari Poe and safety Da’Norris Searcy. They lost cornerback Daryl Worley, tight end Ed Dickson, defensive tackle Star Lotulelei and guard Andrew Norwell.


While the newcomers add depth in the secondary as well as the pass rush, Hurney did not rule out drafting younger players to assist those areas.


“We would love to be able to keep adding parts to the secondary as well as other positions,” he said. “It’s going to depend on how the draft falls. We’re not going to reach for someone because he’s a safety…This is what I mean by letting the board come to us, and not having any positions that you feel are like more of a priority for you because that’s when you tend to maybe reach for a player.


“What you want to do in every draft is get good players to help you. Obviously in the first three rounds we have four picks, and we would like to get four players to come in and compete for a role and have some impact. You’d like to have lower guys come in and compete to be special teams contributors and grow.”

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