PANTHERS DRAFT STRATEGY

"Right now what we're looking for in that first round is a guy that can come in and compete," Hurney said.

The Carolina Panthers appear content to stand pat with the 31st pick in this year's NFL draft.

Carolina general manager Marty Hurney said the team has not aggressively contacted any teams about the possibility of moving up in the first round of the April 24-25 draft. The Panthers have the second-to-last pick in the first round this year, ahead of only the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

While Hurney said the Panthers are not looking to trade up at this point, he wouldn't rule out anything happening over the next eight days. "I think at this point you keep every option open," Hurney said. "And we certainly will. We will discuss every option and discuss every scenario."

Hurney said the Panthers have pretty much finalized their draft board and will field phone calls from other teams up to and through the NFL draft.

However, given the Panthers are fairly tight under the NFL salary cap, it seems unlikely they will move up in the draft because they'd have to pay out a larger signing bonus to that player. The Panthers have less than $1 million remaining under this year's cap and still must sign quarterback Jake Delhomme to a long-term contract.

The Panthers haven't traded up in the first round since 1995 when they wheeled and dealed twice to nab cornerback Tyrone Poole and offensive tackle Blake Brockermeyer.

Last year, the Panthers made three moves on draft weekend. First, they traded down five spots in the second round and drafted offensive lineman Bruce Nelson, picking up fourth-round pick from New England. Then, they paired that fourth-round pick with another fourth-rounder and a seventh-round selection to move up late into the third round to select cornerback Ricky Manning Jr. On day two of the draft, the Panthers traded away their sixth-round pick to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for two seventh-round selections which they used on wide receiver Walter Young and fullback Casey Moore.

The year before the Panthers made only one move on draft day, moving down seven spots in the third round and picking up a fifth-round selection in return.

Not surprisingly, Hurney wouldn't shed any light on what players or even what positions the Panthers are targeting with their first round draft pick. Carolina, at least with Hurney and head coach John Fox calling the shots, has been typically one of the more tight-lipped teams when it comes to their draft and free agency plans.

However, the obvious needs for the Panthers are at cornerback, wide receiver and free safety.

"Right now what we're looking for in that first round is a guy that can come in and compete," Hurney said.


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