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April 19, 2012

Panthers open to trading down

The Panthers are sitting in a much different draft perch than they were a year ago, when they used the No. 1 pick to take Auburn quarterback Cam Newton.

It took Newton all of two games to show the Panthers they made the right decision. Armed with another top-10 pick this year, the Panthers are looking for another impact player at No. 9 – if they stay there.

General manager Marty Hurney said Thursday the Panthers would be willing to trade back in the right situation, adding he likely wouldn't know until next week whether there are any interested trade partners.

But if the Panthers hang on to the pick, second-year coach Ron Rivera said it would be used on a player expected to make a big splash right away.

“We're not like where we were last year. We had the pick of the litter. Now we've got to react to what's happening – who goes here, who goes there and then we'll decide who fits us best and who's going to help us immediately,” Rivera said.

“We're not taking a guy early to have him develop. We're taking a guy early to put him on the field and have him help us right away. That's what the expectation is.”

The Panthers' brass would not talk about specific players at their pre-draft press conference Thursday, and Hurney reiterated they are not locked in on selecting a defensive player with the top pick.

While acknowledging the Panthers have plenty of needs on a defense that was 28th in the league last year, Hurney talked about making the team's strength – the Newton-led offense – even stronger.

“We're going to take the best player there because I think if we just keep adding good football players to this team, we can keep making progress,” Hurney said.

Hurney indicated the Panthers would not be trading up. So fans can scratch Morris Claiborne and Justin Blackmon from their wish lists.

“It would cost more to move up than what we'd be willing to do,” Hurney said.

The Panthers used all 30 of their prospect visits, and had all of the top targets come to Charlotte, including LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers, North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples, Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly.

Kuechly has generated a lot of buzz lately and climbed into the top 10 in several mock drafts. He could be valuable insurance for a Panthers team that has two starting linebackers – Jon Beason and Thomas Davis – coming off major surgeries.

Don Gregory, the Panthers' director of college scouting, said this year's linebacker class is top-heavy.

"I think it's solid at the top. It falls off a little bit at the bottom," Gregory said. "But there's some impact guys at the top that you can target that are pretty good football players."

A few notes:

–Rivera said the team has had 100 percent participation at this week's voluntary workouts, with all 71 players on the roster showing up at Bank of America Stadium.

--He said Beason and Davis have been cleared for some activities, but did not give a timetable for their return. Rivera said the Panthers are “not sure” what they'll get from Davis, who is trying to become the first player in league history to come back from three ACL surgeries on the same knee.

--DE Charles Johnson cut his hand at a charity event during the offseason, Rivera said. Johnson required stitches, but not surgery.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on April 19, 2012 at 04:35 PM | Permalink


I wish Thomas Davis nothing but the best but he's done.

Posted by: John | Apr 19, 2012 6:01:24 PM

The whole team is done 4-12

Posted by: michael | Apr 19, 2012 6:08:08 PM

Joe" you have no clue if Claiborne will be gone. Not sure why you keep insisting he definitely won't be there. Not likely but it could happen.

Also, great quote by Don Gregory aka Captain Obvious. You know how to get the scoop for sure Joe!

Posted by: Frank | Apr 19, 2012 6:44:46 PM

I think the opportunity to trade down vanished when we lost the coin flip and the Dolphins got the 8th pick. I don't see ANY players worthy of trading up unless it's a team desperate for a QB... Tannehill will go to the Dolphins with the 8th pick.

Posted by: PantherCane | Apr 19, 2012 7:17:10 PM

Trading down makes total sense. After the top 6 (Luck, RGIII, Kalil, Blackmon, Claiborne, and TRich), the rest of the class is pretty much a wash. Just please don't draft Poe or Coples, they both are examples of incredibly gifted athletes who can't bring it on the field.

Posted by: Wow | Apr 19, 2012 7:17:25 PM

Look at all of you booger eating arm chair GMs. I love how all of you have a opinion about some of these players you have NEVER watched play a down. Im pretty sure you idiots have watched every Boston College, LSU, Memphis and UNC game this past season.....wait a sec, you probably watched the highlights on YouTube.

Posted by: possum jenkins | Apr 19, 2012 7:22:47 PM

Agree on Thomas Davis, love him but unfortunately he's done. We need OLB not an inside guy so please STOP THE LUKE KUECHLY TALK. As he can't play outside and Beason is our MLB forever.

Love the idea of trading down if there is a taker. Let's take CB Gilmore and add a DL and OLB help in round 2.

BIG year ahead for us.....KEEP POUNDING!

Posted by: JLC | Apr 19, 2012 7:24:09 PM

The key statement is they want a player who can contribute right away. Cox or Coples would fit that description, and either would rattle the cages of some of the elite QBs we face this season... as well as immediately upgrade the run defense.

There'll also likely be some solid (ready to contribute) CBs in the 2nd round at our pick.

Posted by: BB | Apr 19, 2012 7:32:55 PM

Only trade down if we can pick up high second rounder also love j stew he can be a sb piece for a NE OR GB doesnt have to take second carries anymore he gonna leave trade him to cle or cin for one of their late round 1 picks take upshaw first get still in the second if we get another 2nd take z brown from unc

Posted by: Bigkuntry | Apr 19, 2012 7:39:18 PM

Some of these posts are a riot...

John, if anyone can come back, it's TD
Michael...4-12? Are you a Saint, Falcons, or Bucs fan?

Frank...you have no clue! My advice, get one quick, because Claiborne will NOT be around by the time the Panthers pick. Do your homework. The Buccaneers will take him, and he won't get past the Jags.

As long as the Panthers draft CB Stephon Gilmore in the First Round, everything else is gravy.

Posted by: Wolverine | Apr 19, 2012 8:02:20 PM

We need to draft Cox or Kuechly at 9 OR trade down with the jets and draft WR Kendall Wright and CB Jenkins in 2nd round (that would be a steal) plus the no name defensive tackles made a name for themselves toward the end of last season.. linebacker we have more depth now not as needy With that said.. i would have no problem staying at 9 to draft kuechly and or cox

Posted by: Ryan | Apr 19, 2012 8:14:15 PM

Michael Floyd is now rated higher than Kendall Wright. "They" have concerns that Wright has speed enough to separate. A lot of people are afraid of Jenkins' off field issues. Next?

Posted by: Capn Jack Sparrow | Apr 19, 2012 8:27:50 PM

Could Senn, Beason, Anderson hold down the starting LB positions (with TDavis doing some spot time?)

Posted by: PantherFan | Apr 20, 2012 9:41:56 AM

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