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On Changing the Panthers' Draft Philosophy

Many teams have acquired multiple draft picks seemingly very easily by trading their current draft picks for future picks. Obviously, future picks aren't as valuable as picks that can be cashed in immediately, but future picks have real value. Look no further to the 2011 NFL draft, where New England traded the 28th overall pick to New Orleans for the Saints' second round pick(56th overall), and a 2012 first round pick. The Patriots moved down ~30 spots, and acquired a first round pick the following year. The Panthers were on the other end of a similar trade in 2009, sacrificing their 2010 first round pick for the 43rd overall pick which turned out to be Everette Brown(along with a fourth rounder, Mike Goodson). There are numerous instances where teams trade their first rounder, acquire a much lesser pick, and have a great situation to load up on prospects the next year.

While this is a good theory, in practice, it's much more difficult. First, the team that is drafting must not have an immediate need, or can cover that need up. Here's why Carolina can do that:

1. Carolina does not have a short window for contention. Unlike the Saints, Patriots, Colts, etc, who have aging QBs and rosters, the Panthers have Cam Newton at the helm, who hasn't even hit his prime yet. They can afford to look to the future, while costing them a *better player in the short term.

2. Carolina could use upgrades in certain places, but they don't have any major holes to fill. The offensive line should be fine when Jeff Otah comes back next season. The offense is scoring well enough to not need any big acquisitions.The line backer core will be helped tremendously when Jon Beason and Thomas Davis return. Also, the Panthers invested a pair of third round picks on the defensive tackle position. The secondary doesn't need any huge upgrades either, and can be fine tuned rather than overhauled.

3. Finally, this puts Carolina in a position to dominate the draft annually. Similar to the way New England trades draft picks so often to acquire other picks. By trading away their first round pick, Carolina is in a position to add a player this season, and add another next season. Further, Carolina's draft philosophy doesn't seem to follow what the consensus believes, meaning they can still find a way to grab a player who's relatively high on their draft board with a pick that will be ~30 selections lower.

I'm mostly spit-balling here, as the Carolina Panthers hardly ever make unconventional decisions. I think this would behoove Carolina, especially if they're thinking about taking a player that the consensus isn't focusing much attention on. The Panthers have traded their future first round pick, and I'd like them to be on the other end of that trade for a change. There's always the possibility that no team wants to trade a future first rounder (and more) for Carolina's current first rounder, however unlikely that may be. I'm looking for creative minds here. It's easy to just rebuke what I've said in this post because it doesn't follow the Panthers' draft philosophy, but use it as a point of discussion. Marty Hurney parted with John Fox, is giving players relatively large contracts, is playing young players, and selected Cam Newton first overall in the 2011 draft. While that may not be ground breaking, it may have been the start of a change of guard in the Panthers' philosophy, and is certainly encouraging if nothing else.

*Having a lower draft selection does not guarantee a worse player, but it doesn't help. With Carolina's draft philosophy, I doubt their draft would be dramatically affected.

**This post is not intended to bash Marty Hurney's past draft moves to move up and acquire the player he wanted(Everette Brown, Armanti Edwards), but rather to talk about a new philosophy.

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