So do you think the Panthers are crazy for trading their future 1st round pick yet again? Panthers GM Marty Hurney will quickly point out that he molded his draft strategy from his former boss, former Chargers GM Bobby Beathard. Whereas many teams prefer to stockpile draft picks Beathard in turn never shied away from trading future draft picks. In fact Beathard traded away future picks ten straight years and now his protégé has his own two year streak going. In case you were unaware, on day one of the recent NFL draft Hurney traded next years 1st round pick to the 49ers for their #43 pick and a 4th round pick this year. Most people recognize Beathard as one of the better GM's in NFL history (but I'm not advocating a discussion of that opinion at this point in time) so Hurney has some big shoes to fill if he is to be the flag-bearer of this methodology.
Here's how Hurney justifies his recent trade of next years 1st round pick for DE Everette Brown:
"You do it for players you think can come in and help you right away," said Hurney. "When you look at giving up next year's first for a guy like Everette Brown, you have him for a year and then he's that much better in 2010."
Meaning that you really don't pay for the player until the following year. It's like when you buy some furniture at a sale where you "don't make payments till year". You get to use the furniture for a good while before the payment is made. If your intent on winning this year without concern for future years then it is a prudent strategy.
So if you want to evaluate this methodology then let's look at least years trade. The final bill just came due for RT Jeff Otah whom the Panthers traded for what became the #28 pick in this draft and last years 2nd and 4th rounders. I admit if you just look at the trade value chart you might wail about the Panthers getting ripped off. I think the better measure is on-the-field performance because who care's if the chart says you got a great deal if you in turn go 4-12? The Panthers grabbed the talented Otah to improve the running game and judging by the results how can you say it was not a success?
In 2007 the Panthers averaged 114 yards/per game and ranked 14th in the NFL on their way to a 7-9 record. This past the season they rushed for 152 yards/game and finished 3rd in the league in rushing and won the NFC South with a 12-4 record. Sure Otah was not the only factor as Double Trouble had a lot to do with that as well. But you cannot deny the Panthers had the most success rushing off the right side behind the jumbo tandem of Otah and RG Keydrick Vincent. If the Panthers have similar success with their additions to the defensive line coupled with the addition of new DC Ron meeks and the return of DE Julius Peppers then the Panthers should be up to defending their NFC crown.
So will Hurney again trade his 2011 1st round pick at next's year draft? I don't think that is necessarily the case. I think the current Panthers leadership will enter every draft looking for an opportunity that warrants trading the future pick, almost like a trump card they can throw down to win a game in cards. If a player of Otah or Brown's skill falls to the right place they might again resort to this preferred strategy. By then we should have an even better idea of how well it works.
One last wildcard that could throw a wrench into the Hurney strategy is a rookie salary scale. One of the reasons I think the Hurney strategy works is the Panthers in turn are not saddled with huge rookie contracts. By trading these high picks for value picks further down the draft order they save cap space and thereby have more money to put into their proven veterans. If a new CBA is negotiated to include a rookie salary scale then 1st round picks suddenly because extremely more valuable and therefore less likely to be traded. Other than that I wouldn't expect Panthers GM to change his unorthodox draft strategy any time soon.