This is the start of a week-long look at the 9th and 40th picks in the last seven drafts. We'll see what teams did right, did wrong, and how the Panthers can avoid the pitfalls moving forward.
First up we have the 2005 draft, a year scores of teams did poorly- and that includes these selections.
1.9 Washington Redskins- Carlos Rogers, CB, Auburn
Projected Mid-1st round pick
Entering the 2005 draft the NFL began to become cornerback crazy. The eventual move to a pass-dominated league was starting to take shape, and this in turn caused teams to scramble to try and stay ahead of the curve. The result was three cornerbacks taken in the top 10 with Adam Jones, Antrel Rolle and Carlos Rogers rounding out the group. With the exception of Jones, neither Rolle nor Rogers were seen as exceptional players. However, they were guys who played at a position of need.
Where the Redskins went right: The filled their team need and got a multi-year starter.
Where the Redskins went wrong: Washington made one critical error in this pick- They locked onto a position rather than a player. The grade on Rogers was one of a mid-first round talent at best, yet they felt pressured into fixing an immediate need and reached for Rogers, ultimately taking the third rated player at his position.
End result: Seven years later Rogers is a pro-bowler... in San Francisco. Meanwhile the Skins missed out on four amazing players taken right after him; DeMarcus Ware, Jamaal Brown, Derrick Johnson and Shawn Merriman. All of whom had a higher grade on draft day.
How the Panthers could make the same mistake: If they have their heart set on Fletcher Cox and he goes early they could over-draft Michael Brockers. Rogers was a zone corner who didn't have great ability early on to play man, so too Brockers is stout against the run but weak against the pass. They should look in another direction if their DT of choice is gone.
The #40 pick... after the jump
Projected late-1st round pick
The New Orleans Saints were in desperate need of help in their secondary, which during this period lacked any toughness. When the Thorpe finalist fell to their selection in the second round the Saints were over the moon to run to the podium to put their card in.
Where the Saints went right: They took to media consensus ‘BPA'
Where the Saints went wrong: There was good reason why Bullocks slipped to the 40th selection after being mocked as high at #17- teams realized he couldn't play like a defensive back should. He possessed a high football IQ, an good sense to put himself in the right position, however in stepping up to the NFL where the game got more cerebral he no longer had the mental edge. Without that edge he didn't have the physical ability to compensate for his lack of speed, and ended up giving up big plays.
End result: Josh Bullocks is now an unrestricted free agent after stints in Chicago and Oakland.
How the Panthers could make the same mistake: The trap New Orleans fell for was taking a guy because he was sliding, even though he didn't possess the basic skills needed for his position in the NFL. In this way Courtney Upshaw could be a real danger for Carolina. There is a good chance he could slip to the 40th pick, and doesn't have the ability to play a role in a 4-3 defense. He's not strong enough to be a dominant edge rusher, or fast enough to be a true OLB.
Tomorrow we'll be looking at the 2006 NFL draft. A year that wasn't much better at 9 & 40.