Scorecard for Marty Hurney's first GM stint offers clues to Panthers' draft strategy

Scorecard for Marty Hurney's first GM stint offers clues to Panthers' draft strategy
In his first stint as Carolina Panthers general manager, Marty Hurney, shown in 2010, drafted Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly, but also Jimmy Clausen and Everette Brown. (Jeff Siner | Charlotte Observer)

CHARLOTTE, NC (Joseph Person/The Charlotte Observer) - This will be Marty Hurney's first draft since he stepped away as the Carolina Panthers' general manager during the 2012 season.

But Hurney handled 11 drafts during his first tenure as the Panthers' GM, beginning with his selection of a North Carolina defensive end named Julius Peppers with the No. 2 overall pick in 2002.

How Hurney managed those drafts provides some clues as to how things might shake out this week in the Panthers' war room at Bank of America Stadium.

Here are five things to watch based on Hurney's previous draft classes:

1. First things first: Expect big things from the initial pick.

From Peppers in '02 to Luke Kuechly in '12, Hurney pretty well aced his first-round picks.

Eight of the Panthers' 10 first-rounders over that span became Pro Bowlers. The other two were cornerback Chris Gamble, a nine-year starter, and offensive tackle Jeff Otah, Hurney's only first-round bust.

Hurney found success at the top of the first round with Cam Newton (No. 1 overall in '11) and Peppers, as well as years the Panthers picked at the bottom of the opening round (Gamble, running back DeAngelo Williams and linebacker Jon Beason).

Hurney has only taken one safety (a position of need for the Panthers this year) in the first round — Thomas Davis, who was a linebacker by his second season.

2. As for the second round? Not so much.

Hurney wasn't as sharp on his second-round picks during his previous stint as GM.

Of the 11 second-rounders selected by Hurney, only five became solid, multi-year starters. And only one — center Ryan Kalil — became a Pro Bowler.

For every second-round standout such as running back DeShaun Foster, a playoff hero on the 2003 Super Bowl team, there were second-round flameouts such as RB Eric Shelton, who had eight carries for 23 yards for the Panthers before being released.

Quarterback Jimmy Clausen was thrown to the wolves during John Fox's lame-duck season of 2010 after Hurney took the former Notre Dame passer in the second round.

Clausen, a favorite of ESPN analyst Mel Kiper, was overmatched as an NFL quarterback. He threw only three TDs (vs. nine INTs) in 13 games as a rookie. By 2015 he was out of the league, with a career record of 1-13 as a starter.

In addition to Clausen, defensive end Everette Brown and wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett were among the biggest busts under Hurney's watch. Brown had only seven sacks in five NFL seasons, while Jarrett was released in 2010 following his second DUI arrest in a three-year span.

While the second round wasn't kind to Hurney, he has hit on a number of mid-round picks, including OL Travelle Wharton (third round, 2004), LB James Anderson (third, '06), DE Charles Johnson (third, '07) and CB Josh Norman (fifth, '12).

3. If the Panthers take a tight end, it will not be early.

Hurney selected a tight end in six of his first seven drafts with the Panthers. But only one was taken higher than the fifth round — Mike Seidman, a third-rounder in 2003 who caught only 18 passes during parts of four seasons with Carolina.

Hurney's history with tight ends is potentially instructive because the Panthers lost No. 2 TE Ed Dickson in free agency (to Seattle) last month, and Pro Bowler Greg Olsen is entering a contract year.

The Panthers had South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst in for a pre-draft visit. But the former minor-league baseball player is considered a first-round prospect, which could be too high for Hurney if history is any indication.

Snagging a tight end late paid off for Hurney with Jeff King, a fifth-round pick in 2006 who started four seasons in Carolina before finishing his career in Arizona.

4. There will be draft-day trades.

Hurney has not been afraid to wheel and deal when engineering draft-day trades. He swapped picks in every draft but 2011, when the Panthers held on to the No. 1 pick to grab Newton and stayed put for their next seven selections, as well.

Of Hurney's 13 draft-day deals, seven times he has traded up in the draft.

And while those moves sometimes resulted in reaches — most notably for Otah (who did start 25 games his first two seasons) Brown and Armanti Edwards — Hurney also found value other times by trading back.

The Panthers traded back six spots in the third round in '03 and took linebacker Will Witherspoon. Hurney moved back 11 spots in 2007 and still was able to get Beason at No. 25.

Carolina drafted former South Carolina cornerback Captain Munnerlyn with the 216th pick in 2009 after trading a sixth-round pick to Oakland.

5. Panthers should tread lightly with wide receivers.

Hurney continued making over the receiving group in March by trading for Torrey Smith and signing former Vikings slot receiver Jarius Wright. There has been speculation the Panthers might draft a wideout early this week after they brought in four of the top receivers in for pre-draft visits.

And while Newton and new offensive coordinator Norv Turner surely would welcome another weapon, Hurney's track record when drafting receivers should give them pause.

Hurney drafted 10 wideouts from 2002-12. Only one of them really panned out — Brandon LaFell, a third-round pick in 2010 who averaged just more than 40 receptions in four years in Carolina before winning a Super Bowl with New England.

Keary Colbert, a second-rounder in '04, had a promising rookie season (47 catches for 754 yards and five TDs), but his production dipped in his final three years with the team.

The rest of Hurney's receiver picks quickly took up residence in the where-are-they-now file, a forgettable group that included Walter Young, Drew Carter, Jarrett, Ryne Robinson, David Gettis, Kealoha Pilares and Joe Adams.

Some fans have never forgiven Hurney for trading a second-round pick to New England (which turned out to be the 33rd overall pick) to take Edwards in the third round in 2010.

Edwards, the former Appalachian State quarterback who won two national titles and beat Michigan, couldn't make the transition to receiver — at least in the NFL.

Edwards just missed notching his first 1,000-yard receiving season last year … with the Toronto Argonauts in the CFL.

Hurney is said to have been interested in another wideout in that 2010 draft. But off-the-field issues prompted the Panthers to pass on Antonio Brown, who fell to the sixth round before Pittsburgh took him with the 195th pick.