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Grading the Panthers 2009 Draft

No matter how you feel about the Panthers draft at this point I think when the 2009 season rolls around we are really going to like this draft class. Yes the Panthers again mortgaged their future #1 pick but they in turn got a dynamic pass rusher in return. They also filled all the needs we identified going into the draft. You may recall we felt the top 4 needs were as follows:

Nickel CB, DT, DE and then OL

The actual order of selection ended up being DE, S (CB), DT, RB (WR/KR), FB, OT (OG) and CB. Given the Panthers love of the BPA philosophy I'm surprised to see them make picks that seemed to be strictly based on need on all but one pick, the Goodson selection. Let's look at them one at a time.

Round 2, Pick 11 (43) (From 49ers) Everette Brown DE 6'2" 256 Florida State

Pick Analysis: The Panthers pick up a pass rusher who many teams rated as a first-round prospect. The former Seminole has an exceptional first step and is crafty working around the edge. Although he lacks ideal size, his ability to get to the quarterback is a welcome addition to a roster that had only one true pass-rushing threat (Julius Peppers) prior to draft day.

My guess is Brown fell due to his ‘tweener' size, a little small for a 4-3 DE but maybe a little too big for a 3-4 rush LB. I've watched film on this guys assortment of pass rushing moves and he looks like a stud who will take some of the pressure off of DE Julius Peppers once he secures the starting spot. Grade: A

Round 2, Pick 27 (59) Sherrod Martin S 6'1" 198 Troy

Pick Analysis: The Panthers nab a safety with corner-like size and skills. Martin is a tough, hard-nosed player with the movement skills to excel outside in the right scheme. With the Panthers looking for a big corner to add to their sub-package, Martin should get on the field early and often as a rookie.

Though he played Safety this past season Martin will play CB in the nickel package in 2009. This fills a huge need with the release of CB Ken Lucas. Some question the Panthers passing over Sean Smith but I think the reason is Smith is a true Safety whereas Martin will convert to CB. Grade: B

Round 3, Pick 29 (93) Corvey Irvin DL 6'3" 301 Georgia

Pick Analysis: The former Bulldog is an intriguing interior prospect with outstanding athleticism. He's raw as a player but has good potential due to his exceptional combination of size, strength and speed.

Irvin wasn't my first pick at DT but he does seem to fit the cover 2 scheme with his size and athletic ability. He should get in the DT rotation which is what the Panthers needed but some will question whether the Panthers reached for Irvin. If we were going to reach for a player DT is a good spot to do it in my view. Grade: B

Round 4, Pick 11 (111) (From 49ers) Mike Goodson RB 6'0" 208 Texas A&M

Pick Analysis: Goodson is a big back with really impressive quickness and speed. He hasn't been a full-time starter in college, but he has great explosion and change of direction. He may develop into a multi-threat player in the NFL who can play slot receiver, catch screens, run the ball and return kicks.

This pick was a head-scratcher at first but upon examination he's another kid that will be switching positions. The Panthers are apparently thinking Goodson might bring an exciting element to the return game as well other gadget plays in the offense. This is a risky pick but one that could pay big dividends. Grade: C

Round 4, Pick 28 (128) Tony Fiammetta FB 6'0" 245 Syracuse

Pick Analysis: Fiammetta was the best fullback in the draft. He is an excellent blocker yet he has rushing skills, as he was a running back coming out of high school. He also has excellent receiving skills. His blocking is not to be dismissed, though, and he really beefs up an already-powerful Panthers rushing attack.

As much as I love Brad Hoover the Panthers needed to groom a youngster at FB. Fiammetta brings ball-catching ability to the FB position we have never seen in Carolina. Grade: B

Round 5, Pick 27 (163) Duke Robinson OT 6'5" 329 Oklahoma

Pick Analysis: The Panthers pick up a road grader with Robinson. The former Sooner excels at drive blocking and is the big, physical specimen that the team wants on the interior of the offensive line.

Robinson might be the best pick of the second day for the Panthers. Though he slid because of concerns about his conditioning this kid brings the versatility the Panthers love. If RG Keydrick Vincent struggles getting healthy from his groin tear Robinson has the size to step in a perform in the run game. Grade: A

Round 7, Pick 7 (216) (From Oakland) Captain Munnerlyn CB 5'9" 182 South Carolina Pick Analysis: Munnerlyn is a bit undersized as a cornerback but he has return skills and decent speed. He can cover the slot and could make the Panthers roster to bolster the team's depth in the secondary.

Munnerlyn is a playmaker and natural leader who can also return punts effectively. He is also a big hitter in run support and I have no doubt he will challenge for a roster spot. Grade: B

So take my poll fans and let's see how you grade the Panthers pick.