CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Panthers set out to improve their defense in the NFL draft, and general manager Marty Hurney is optimistic they've accomplished that goal.
But he acknowledged you can never be sure.
Hurney says he and coach Ron Rivera really like what happened over the course of the three-day draft but "you really don't know until two or three years down the road."
Nonetheless, Hurney said for the most part things fell Carolina's way and they got the players they wanted in each round in the three-day draft.
The Panthers selected linebacker Luke Kuechly from Boston College in the first round, defensive end Frank Alexander from Oklahoma in the fourth, cornerback Josh Norman from Coastal Carolina in the fifth and safety D.J. Campbell from Cal in the seventh in hopes of shoring up a defense that ranked 28th in the league a year ago.
In Hurney's eyes, the big key for the Panthers was landing Alexander in the fourth round.
The Panthers traded away a third round pick next year and a sixth rounder this year to move up into the fourth (103rd overall) overall to get him.
"I think really the fourth round and having that fall into place was probably the key," Hurney said. "I think we felt like that kind of spurred the rest of the draft. We feel good. We feel like we helped our defense."
The Panthers turned around and took punt returner Joe Adams from Arkansas with the 104th pick to help out their special teams.
Alexander was the pass-rushing defensive end Hurney coveted and tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to move up and get in the third round.
As luck would have it, Alexander he slid into the fourth round.
Hurney desperately wanted to move into the third round — they didn't have one coming into the draft — to get Alexander and Rivera even implored him beforehand to "work his magic."
It never materialized though.
Some of the teams that listened to trade offers wanted too much in exchange and others didn't want to trade their pick.
"We weren't able to get a third round pick and that was frustrating," Hurney said.
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