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Monday, April 27, 2009

Martin Bolsters Secondary

After spending their newly acquired pick at #43 overall, the Panthers looked toward the 59 pick anticipating a move in the secondary, picking Sherrod Martin, DB, from Troy.

The small-school prospect showed up at combine with above average numbers (4.50 40, a blazing 3.98 20 yard shuttle- 2nd best for the entire combine, not just DBs, and a 3-cone drill 2nd best at CB at 6.60), but also played very well at the Senior Bowl, in workouts, and had shown himself as a playmaker in college - he's not just a workout warrior.

As well, for good or bad, he's mature. He'll turn 25 during his rookie year, because of an injury redshirt year and a deferred enrollment to 2004. At Troy, he played both cornerback and safety, and excelled at both. With Carolina, Martin will likely start out as a nickel, fighting CJ Wilson for the role.

Many anticipated the team picking a defensive tackle with the pick, but a great fit in Fili Moala went just three picks ahead at #56. Jarron Gilbert seemed to fit the bill as well, but there were worries about inconsistent motor. The other choice - many had DJ Moore from Vanderbilt as the top CB left (to edit in hindsight, he'd fall much further). While both are solid cover corners, Martin provides a little less overaggressiveness, a lot more size, and more athleticism. He also played at a lower level, but Troy alums Demarcus Ware, Leodis McKelvin, and many other small school stars don't think that's a concern.

Trade Brings Brown to Black and Blue

With Panthers fans only starting to tune in to anticipate the 59th overall pick, the 43rd pick suddenly came up on the clock for Carolina - and quickly, Everette Brown was the team's top pick.
By the 43rd pick, the team could've swapped up and gotten Brown using the 59 pick - it's entirely possible that they continued to wave the 2010 first round pick as an offer expecting that would've worked higher up. The ability to keep that 59 pick, and get the 4th round pick as well, was a factor in getting more value. By getting the 4th (111), the team felt like it could get three players within the same value structure, including the 93 pick in the third round and 128 later in the 4th.

Brown (6'2, 256, Florida State, Junior) was heavily favored to make it to the first round, and when Carolina saw him slide into the second, had started to inquire about moving up to get the high-value, athletic end. Brown adds, in theory, a significant upgrade in rush ability, and obviously also insures against any Julius Peppers downtime or holdout.

An excellent athlete, Brown was a terror for FSU as a junior and declared early for the draft. With 13.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss, he'd proven himself dominant at the college level, but had only started for that one year. He was a situational rusher in two years prior, and steadily improved - redshirt 2005, 3.0 sacks in 2006, 6.5 sacks in 2007. In each of those years, Brown also had more than ten tackles for loss, despite not starting. Those made up a fair portion of his total tackle count, finishing with 46.5 TFL and 100 total tackles.

Looked at as a potential 3-4 OLB by much of the league, Brown was passed over by some 4-3 teams looking for a pass rusher; he was also passed over when Robert Ayers and Larry English were taken ahead of him and Green Bay selected Clay Matthews, a true OLB, over any of the pass rushers. At the point Brown was taken by Carolina, only four DT and three DE were off the board. Other than a stigma from past FSU rushers of his pedigree (Jamal Reynolds, Andre Wadsworth, Kamerion Wimbley), there doesn't seem to be a realistic reason for him to fall, and he has no control over what other rushers from his school accomplished in the NFL.

Brown will start out immediately bolstering the defensive line and the pass rush overall, and has the motor, awareness, and ability to grow into an excellent run stopper, and his 21.5 tackles for loss last year are a part of that. Make no mistake, he's not just a situational player, and he's not a tweener, this is the real deal. He may start out rotating in, but should make impact all over the field.