The Carolina Panthers are prepping for this month's draft and hope to make a move that will help solidify the roster for the next few years. Sometimes those moves don't work out the way the team scouts, coaches or front office officials envision when bringing in a rookie. Some picks are considered brilliant, while others are true head scratchers.
Any general manager's goal is to assemble the best draft possible, but sometimes the finished product turns out to be a major failure.
One such draft class is the 2009 draft.
The reason for selecting a draft class within the last five years is that the current roster is still impacted. In fact, the last 10 draft classes have played a role in who is currently on the team today. Some have been good, while others have been mediocre to below average.
The 2009 class was an abomination from the onset.
For starters, Carolina did not have a first-round pick because Marty Hurney, then-general manager, traded it away to away to the Philadelphia Eagles the year before to jump back into the first round of that draft. That trade resulted in the Panthers selecting Jeff Otah in 2008.
At first it seemed like a great move, but over the next few years the move would prove to be as much a failure as the 2009 draft. However, for intents and purposes of this article, the draft itself will remain the sole focus.
So, the Panthers were without a first-round pick, and did not draft until the second round at 43rd overall—and that was after trading up to get into the early part of the second. At the time the need for defensive line help was great, although at that point the upgrade was at defensive end to provide a possible replacement for Julius Peppers if he were to leave in 2010.
Enter Everette Brown, who was a talented end out of Florida State.
The concerns about his falling draft stock were evident, as he never lived up to expectations and was released after two seasons in Carolina. He has been on three different teams over the past three years.
Carolina took defensive back Sherrod Martin later in the round, and that was perhaps one of the better moves of that draft. Martin wasn't spectacular, but he was solid. He remained on the roster until this past season and is currently a free agent.
The next four picks yielded Corvey Irvin, Mike Goodson, Tony Fiammetta and Duke Robinson. All of them were gone within the next three years, as they could not play at a high level. None of them are with the same teams they went to after leaving the Panthers, either.
Despite putting together a terrible draft class, Hurney's last pick was the proverbial diamond in the rough. Using a seventh-round pick which they obtained from the Oakland Raiders in a trade, the Panthers drafted Captain Munnerlyn at 216th overall.
Munnerlyn has been slightly more successful than Martin, having played primarily at the nickle slot position. He was shifted to the starting cornerback spot following the injury to Chris Gamble and looks to resume the role in 2013.
While Martin and Munnerlyn performed well, the rest of that year's draft class was unimpressive. The draft produced only two starters (Munnerlyn and Martin), zero Pro Bowl selections and did enough to set the team back moving forward.
The following year the Panthers once again did not have a first-round pick, as they used it to trade into the second round to acquire Brown. As a result, Carolina took Jimmy Clausen in the second round of the 2010 draft, and that would prove to be a terrible pick as the whole season spiraled out of control.
It just goes to show how much one draft class can help or harm a team in the long run. The 2009 class was a disaster in every sense of the word. With any luck and some savvy moves, the Carolina front office will avoid another such horrid draft class and put the team on the path to success.