CHARLOTTE , N.C. (AP) Watching the NFL draft at home on television the past five years has given Marty Hurney a different perspective on how he’ll approach his decision-making process in his second stint as Carolina Panthers general manager.Namely, Hurney said he won’t be trading away next year’s first-round draft pick.”I can tell you right now that you can consider next year’s first-round pick safe,” Hurney said with a laugh. ”… We will probably be getting calls, so if you can just tweet that out.”Hurney, who left the Panthers in 2012 but was re-hired earlier this offseason, has a history of wheeling and dealing on the first day of the NFL draft.In the 2008 draft, he traded away the team’s first-round draft pick in 2009 to get offensive tackle Jeff Otah with the 19th overall pick. The following year he traded away his 2010 first-round draft pick to get defensive end Everette Brown in the second round. Neither moved panned out well for the Panthers.”You step back and look at some of the things you have done,” Hurney said. ”You look at what you did and what you can do better. You also look at what you did well.”Overall, to be fair , Hurney has had plenty of success with first-round picks.He hit home runs by drafting defensive end Julius Peppers (2002), offensive tackle Jordan Gross (2003), cornerback Chris Gamble (2004), linebacker Thomas Davis (2005), running back DeAngelo Williams (2006), linebacker Jon Beason (2007), running back Jonathan Stewart (200smile, quarterback Cam Newton (2011) and linebacker Luke Kuechly (2012) in the first rounds. All of those players enjoyed – are or still enjoying – lengthy and successful NFL careers.FREE TO ROAM AT 24Hurney isn’t tipping his hand when it comes to this year’s draft, saying the Panthers could go in any direction with the 24th pick except quarterback. Overall , he feels good about the team’s depth up and down the roster after free agency.”There really isn’t a position that you say, ”OK, we have to get somebody there,”’ Hurney said.Hurney said ultimately the team’s decision will come down to what players are left on the board and which one could have the biggest immediate impact based on position need.QUARTERBACK WANTEDWhile Hurney won’t be taking a quarterback in the first round, he wouldn’t rule out getting one in the later rounds as a potential backup for Newton. The Panthers still haven’t decided whether or not to re-sign veteran Derek Anderson.Hurney said one thing he learned from former Packers GM Ron Wolf was that drafting a quarterback later in a draft can pay big dividends since it is the one position that is the most highly coveted in the NFL.”You are always looking at young quarterbacks,” he said.However, Hurney’s previous decisions to take QBs late in the draft didn’t work out so well with Randy Fasani, Stefan Lefors and Tony Pike. He also missed early on Jimmy Clausen.NEW COORDINATORPanthers coach Ron Rivera said new offensive coordinator Norv Turner has made it pretty clear what type of players would fit best in his offensive scheme. Rivera said he had a pretty good idea already of what Turner wants having worked under him when Turner was head coach of the San Diego Chargers.HITS, MISSES AND BARGAINSDave Gettleman , now with the New York Giants, handled Carolina’s drafts the past five seasons and he did pretty well with the team’s top three draft picks each season.He did well getting defensive tackle Kawann Short in the second round at No. 44 in 2013, wide receiver Devin Funchess in the second round and guard Trai Turner in the third round in 2014 and cornerback James Bradberry in the second round in 2016.The Panthers have parted ways with defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (2013) and Kelvin Benjamin (2014), both first-round picks, but both are starters in Buffalo.The jury is still out on 2016 first-round draft pick Vernon Butler, a defensive tackle who has struggled with injuries.Two of the biggest bargains selected by Gettleman were linebackers A.J. Klein and David Mayo with fifth-round picks in 2013 and 2015, respectively.— The Panthers’ ground attack in 2018 was the Christian McCaffrey Show, and it was pretty effective."WhiteFanposts Fanshots Sections Keep Sounding PodcastPanthers 2019 NFL DraftCSR Film RoomPanthers 2018 season review: Running backsNew,12commentsThe Panthers’ ground attack in 2018 was the Christian McCaffrey Show , and it was pretty effective.ESTShareTweetShareSharePanthers 2018 season review: Running backsThe Panthers’ offense was heavily dependent on the rushing and receiving threat of No. 1 running back Christian McCaffrey for the majority of the 2018 season. Carolina brought C.J. Anderson into the fold via free agency to pair with McCaffrey in an attempt to recreate the smash and dash style of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, but after nine games of barely using the veteran’s services the Panthers released him and continued to use McCaffrey as the lone back in their ground game. There were a few other guys in the mix throughout the season, but for the most part the Panthers’ rushing attack was all Run CMC.Christian McCaffreyMcCaffrey rushed 219 times for 1098 yards in 2018 with seven touchdowns. He also grabbed 107 receptions for another 867 yards and six more touchdowns. Combined, that’s 326 touches for 1965 yards and 13 touchdowns. Every time McCaffrey touched the football, he averaged six yards (five yards per carry and 8.1 yards per reception). With numbers like that it’s no surprise the Panthers want to feature him as a key cog in the offense. The only question will be his long-term durability, as he was on the field for nearly every single play from scrimmage last year. To protect him in the future and to get as many years of production out of him as possible, the Panthers should consider pairing him with another running back to help shoulder some of the burden.Speaking of that...C.J. AndersonAnderson was supposed to be that guy. The Panthers brought him in on a one-year deal in free agency to spell McCaffrey and be the ‘bruiser back’ on the goal line. Unfortunately for Anderson, it didn’t work out that way and he was released in Week 10 of the season after producing a measly 104 yards on 24 carries.It wasn’t all bad for Anderson, though. He did get picked up by the Rams and became a key factor in their Super Bowl run... so I guess there’s a silver lining for him after all.Cameron Artis-PayneThe Panthers have been getting a good look at Cameron Artis-Payne for what seems like a decade now. In 2018 he saw some action later in the season after Anderson was released , and he rushed 19 times for 69 yards (nice!) and one touchdown. Artis-Payne will be an unrestricted free agent in March, and it’s unlikely the Panthers will bring him back when they can just pick up a running back on Day 3 of the draft or pick up a cheaper free agent option like Elijah Hood, who is an exclusive rights free agent. It’s been a weird ride for Artis-Payne in Carolina, and honestly I’m kinda sad that we didn’t get to see more of him while he was here. I think he potentially has a future in the league, but at 28 years old with limited tape for other teams to see, his ship may have already sailed.Fozzy Whittaker, Kenjon Barner and Travaris CadetFozzy Whittaker went on injured reserve with a torn ACL during OTAs so he never really had the chance to do anything in 2018. He will also be a free agent in March, so it’s safe to assume that his time in Carolina is over. The Panthers also brought in Kenjon Barner and Travaris Cadet in 2018 but neither one contributed much. Barner was strictly used on special teams and Cadet only carried the ball 11 times for 17 yards. Both will be free agents in a month and neither will likely return to Carolina in 2019 when there will probably be better options available for the Panthers.What’s next?The Panthers will only have one running back on the roster when the league year starts so they’re going to have to do some shopping. While Christian McCaffrey will handle the bulk of the workload, they still need some depth at the position. Reggie Bonnafon is currently on the practice squad , so they could see him as an option for the 53-man roster in 2019. Otherwise, it will be interesting to see how they address their need for running back depth in the coming months.The Panthers will probably scour the lower tier of the free agent market to get someone to be the No. 2 running back, or they could potentially toss a fifth or sixth round pick at someone in the draft if they don’t find any free agents they like. No matter what happens, 2019 should be more of the same for the Panthers—it’s Run CMC’s world, and we’re all just living in it.Oh, and before you ask, we didn’t forget about Alex Armah. Stay tuned as we will cover the Panthers’ fullback in more detail later today.
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