A Look Back at 2010: How the Carolina Panthers Could Have Better Handled the Draft

Taking a QB early made no sense for the Panthers, and didn't put Jimmy Clausen in a good situation. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

In writing up an early projected depth chart yesterday one thing became abundantly clear- what the heck was Marty Hurney thinking in the 2010 draft? As you know, I think Hurney is unfairly put under a microscope by the vast majority of fans; like all GMs he has had his ups, and his downs in terms of the talent brought into this organization under his watch.

Looking back at past draft missteps I can see the thought process that led to the selection of Everette Brown, or Dwayne Jarrett- what I can't understand is the lack of foresight shown just over two years ago.

There was no mystery regarding what would happen at the end of the 2010 season. As soon as 2009 ended we waited to see if John Fox would get fired, and despite the organization openly offering him to let him find another job he returned in lame duck status. In hindsight this was the right move, both the Panthers and John Fox are in better positions because of it. However, this decision led to the 2010 draft- one where the front office needed to try and project what kind of team they wanted to be, and bring in players to that end. Without a coach helping influence decision Hurney and Co. selected a group of players with so many questions it was fraught with really foolish decisions. We'll look at those...

After the jump

Year in, year out we see that team fit is oftentimes more important to a young player than his ability alone. There are certain positions that can be successful regardless of scheme- these include interior offensive linemen, safeties, cornerbacks, running backs and middle linebackers. These players tend to be able to be plugged into any system, and have success. For other positions it can be highly reliant on the system a coach runs on offense and defense, and if I were the GM of the Carolina Panthers I wouldn't touch these players in a lame duck season, BPA or not.

Marty Hurney made a huge mistake taking two quarterbacks, three wide receivers and two pass rushers as the backbone of his class- this completely overlooked that a new leader would arrive in 2011, and would likely want to install his own players. Typically I hate revisionist history, but I'm going to re-draft 2010 based on the concept of taking multi-faceted players who could fit any system. This is my attempt to see what could have been if the Panthers front office was more forward-thinking.

Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame
Pick should have been: Javier Arenas, CB, Alabama
This isn't yet another attempt to pile on Jimmy, but selecting a quarterback- any quarterback early in the 2010 draft made absolutely no sense. Whether you felt he was a ‘steal' on draft day, or not, there's an established pattern of new head coaches looking for their QBs. When Ron Rivera arrived he clearly had a preference for elite, tall, big armed QBs; Clausen didn't fit this role.

Had the Panthers taken Arenas (the best CB available at the time) they would have had a player set to solidify the secondary for a new coach, and help on special teams. You can plug a man-cover CB line Arenas in to almost any system without too much concern about fit.

Brandon LaFell, WR, LSU
Pick should have been: Brandon LaFell, WR, LSU
While I don't think receivers are universal regardless of system, I do think a player with LaFell's skillset can transition to most offenses. At worst he'd be a reliable 3rd possession receiver, so I can't argue with the selection.

Armanti Edwards, QB, Appalachian State
Pick should have been: Nobody
This is a pick that never should have happened. Not because I think Armanti Edwards can't play, but that taking future draft picks from any incoming coach is a terrible plan to have. Furthermore, position changes require an established coaching staff that is confident in their ability to work with a player, and working for the long term success of the organization. No position coach had a vested interest in seeing this selection succeed, as most knew they wouldn't be returning.

Eric Norwood, OLB, South Carolina
Pick should have been: Jason Fox, OT, Miami
The lazy thing to do here would be to select the only probowler available in SS Kam Chancellor, but realistically the Panthers wouldn't have taken a safety after investing in the position with Charles Godfrey and Sherrod Martin. With Jeff Otah injured consistently Fox would have given Carolina some depth at OT, and a guy who could transition to the next coach.

Eric Norwood was a dynamic pass rusher at South Carolina, but he was the definition of a ‘tweener'. These players need to really capture the imagination of a coach to be able to be used at the next level, and without knowing whether the Panthers would be a 4-3 or 3-4 front this was a bad decision for both Norwood and the Panthers.

Greg Hardy, DE, Ole Miss
Pick should have been: Greg Hardy, DE, Ole Miss
Impossible to argue with the selection. Hardy is a prototypical 4-3 DE, but had enough speed to play in other schemes if needed. As a 6th round pick even if a new coach cut him loose it wouldn't be much of a loss.

David Gettis, WR, Baylor
Pick should have been: David Gettis, WR, Baylor
This is another pick that's hard to argue with in the 6th round. Even if Gettis didn't fit a new coach's scheme, he does have talent that could have been used on special teams if they didn't like him at receiver.

Jordan Pugh, CB, Texas A&M
Pick should have been: Ted Larsen, C, NC State
A few picks after Pugh was taken the interior offensive lineman from NC State was taken by the Patriots. Larsen could have player OG, or center- and add some much need OL depth. Pugh is a fine player, but the early selection of Arenas makes this redundant.

Tony Pike, QB, Cincinnati
Pick should have been: Dekota Watson, OLB, Florida State
Watson may not have been the BPA, but he added depth being Thomas Davis who just tore his ACL for the first time. If nothing else this added some stability, and taking another QB was absolute

R.J. Stanford and Robert McClain
Picks should have been R.J. Stanford and Robert McClain
No problem getting depth with the Panthers two 7th round picks. They made sense then, they make sense now.

This was a draft class where the Panthers definitely hit on a few picks, but the missteps in selecting two quarterbacks, and then trading away the future second round pick really didn't help set up the roster for a new head coach. There's a very real chance the Panthers start the 2012 season with only LaFell, Gettis and Hardy remaining on the roster, and for a draft class just two years removed that's pretty appalling.

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