The Carolina Panthers selected DE Everette Brown out of Florida State in the second round with the 43rd overall pick (acquired in a trade with the 49ers in exchange for next year's first round pick in a deal that also got the Panthers a fourth-round pick, No. 111 overall).
Brown's combination of speed and strength is what makes him a second round pick. He showed excellent speed with a 4.73 40-yard dash and above-average strength for an end by bench-pressing 26 reps of 225 pounds at the NFL Combine. His explosiveness and leg strength are decent.
Brown's lateral quickness is suspect, however, and he has trouble getting up to full speed out of his pre-snap stance. Plus he could do with more lower-body power.
This move may not look like a good one on the surface from a purely practical point of view. The Panthers already had four serviceable defensive ends, last year's starters Tyler Brayton and Julius Peppers in addition to backups Hilee Taylor and Charles Johnson.
Throw Casper Brinkley, an offseason acquisition signed on January 13, and now Brown into the mix, and you have an overload of defensive ends.
But Brown is more NFL-ready than Taylor was when he was drafted, or is now after his rookie season for that matter. And he is definitely more talented than Brinkley or Johnson. I have a feeling he will step in as a key reserve—or even a starter—right away.
With their other second round pick, No. 59 overall, the Panthers drafted Sherrod Martin, a safety from Troy. Martin has excellent speed, great jumping ability, outstanding lower-body explosiveness and power, and exceptional lateral quickness and explosiveness.
What's more—he has the best acceleration of any defensive back in the draft by far, with a 20-yard shuttle run time of 3.98 seconds. The next-best time was 4.12 seconds.
Martin (pictured in the article photo) was also one of only three defensive backs to run the 60-yard shuttle run at the NFL Combine. He placed second in that group, posting a time of 11.17.
The only other player drafted out of Troy in the history of the NFL Draft is Buffalo Bills cornerback Leodis McKelvin, the 11th-overall selection in last year's draft. McKelvin notched 32 tackles and two interceptions last year in his rookie season.
Troy appears to be doing something right with its defensive backs now, with two players drafted in one of the first two rounds in the last two years. Perhaps that's a promising sign of what's to come for Martin.
While it's a little hard to see the Panthers' reasoning behind drafting Brown because they were already deep at defensive end, Martin's speed and quickness make him a superb choice to fill that nickel-coverage role Richard Marshall vacated when the Panthers promoted him to the starting cornerback job opposite Chris Gamble.