"You're right, safety is the one spot that just didn't fall right for us in this draft for us," Panthers GM Marty Hurney said. "But we feel like there are a lot of other areas on our football team that we did improve in this draft. So we will keep looking in every way we can to try to upgrade that area, whether it be free agency, the waiver wire or trade. We have rookie free agency after the draft.
"Every avenue we have to pursue we will do that to try to upgrade that area. But if it wasn't that position it was going to be somewhere else. I don't think anybody fills all of their needs in the draft and I don't think anybody feels like all of their needs are filled at any time."
The Panthers had told veteran Mike Minter, who will retire after the season, that they were going to add some young blood at safety, probably in the NFL draft. In fact, when Minter took a pay cut, he was told he probably wouldn't be starting this year, which led everyone to believe the Panthers would select two safeties this years, and at least one on the first day of the draft.
But Minter looks like a starter now.
The Panthers drafted the heir apparent to middle linebacker Dan Morgan in the first round, taking Jon Beason from Miami. In the second round, they added receiver Dwayne Jarrett from center Ryan Kalil from USC and defensive end Charles Johnson from Georgia in the third.
Jarrett is a good pick considering he will have at least one year to learn from Keyshawn Johnson before stepping into a starting role. Kalil wasn't a need pick, but the Panthers felt they couldn't pass him up late in the second round. They had him rated as a first-round pick on their draft board. Johnson gives the Panthers some depth at defensive end, where starter Mike Rucker is coming off a serious knee injury and top backup Al Wallace was released.
On the second day, the Panthers addressed a huge need in the return game after finished dead last in the league in punt return and kickoff return average. Ryne Robinson, a fourth-round pick from Miami of Ohio, will almost certainly handle punt returns, but he only returned eight kickoff returns, so it's unclear if that will be part of his job description. They added tight end Dante Rosario from Oregon and linebacker Tim Shaw from Penn State with their two fifth round picks.
BEST PICK: WR Dwayne Jarrett - Jarrett was a touchdown machine at USC with 41 in three seasons. He gives Jake Delhomme yet another weapon on offense. Right now he projects to battle with Drew Carter for the team's third receiver spot. Jarrett will have to work on his ability to get off the ball, but fellow USC product Keyshawn Johnson said he will help him with that aspect of the game. "He's another guy we had a high value on that we liked a lot," coach John Fox said. "He was very productive for three years pretty great production in some big spots. We were excited about that pick." Ironically, most scouts compare Jarrett's game to that of Johnson.
COULD SURPRISE: LB Tim Shaw - He's extremely smart and played a number of positions at Penn State. He has great athletic ability and the way the Panthers tend to lose linebackers to injury, he could wind up playing at some point. Basically, he's just a good football player - and perhaps undervalued -- with no glaring weaknesses in his game. He's a pretty good pick for a fifth rounder and could surprise.
A closer look at the Panthers' picks:
Round 1/25 -- Jon Beason, LB, 6-2, 266, Miami
The Panthers traded down from No. 14 to No. 25 because they felt good about the group of players that would be around at that spot. Beason gives the Panthers an insurance policy at linebacker because they can't count on Dan Morgan to play a full season. He never has since coming into the league in 2001.
Round 2/45 -- Dwayne Jarrett, WR, 6-5, 200, Southern Cal
Even Keyshawn Johnson was excited about this pick. Jarrett caught 41 touchdowns in three seasons at USC, so he has a good nose for the end zone. He will be Johnson's successor when he retires or moves on, but for now he will be the team's third receiver. Not good news for Keary Colbert.
Round 2/59 -- Ryan Kalil, C, 6-2, 298, Southern Cal
Was a first team All-PAC 10 conference selection his final two years at USC. He was an All-American as a senior won the 2006 PAC-10 Morris Trophy given to the conference's top offensive lineman. Kalil played exclusively at center at USC and will start out there in practice with the Panthers. He could be moved later to guard. It's more likely the team will move Justin Hartwig to guard.
Round 3/83 -- Charles Johnson, DE, 6-2, 272, Georgia
Second-team All-SEC. Johnson started only 13 games in his career, but recorded 19.5 sacks and 73 tackles. He had a knack for the big play, forcing five fumbles and recovering three, one of which he returned for a touchdown. Johnson is expected to fill the void created by the departure of veteran Al Wallace. He will compete for the No. 3 job at defensive end with last year's rookie Stanley McClover.
Round 4/118 -- Ryne Robinson, WR, 5-8, 178, Miami (Ohio)
Robinson is expected to fill the team's need for a return man. A year ago, Steve Smith and Chris Gamble shared punt return duties and DeAngelo Williams returning kicks. Carolina finished last in the league in both punt and kickoff return average last year. Robinson can return punts (he had seven TDs for the Redhawks in college), but only returned eight kickoffs.
Round 5/155 -- Dante Rosario, TE, 6-3, 243, Oregon
Is considered a pass-catching tight end and would fill a need if he can develop into a player. He is still raw and considered a bit of project. The Panthers would like to have a tight end who can stretch the defense and take pressure off Steve Smith, Keyshawn Johnson and Jarrett.
Round 5/164 -- Tim Shaw, LB, 6-1, 236, Penn State
He will basically fill a role on special teams while learning the defense. Carolina needed a fill-in for Vinny Ciurciu, an under appreciated special teams player who left to join the Minnesota Vikings.
Round 7/226 -- C.J. Wilson, S 6-1, 195, Baylor
Has played both corner and safety. Projects as a safety for the Panthers.