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Panthers GM Dave Gettleman didn't 'shop hungry' to replenish secondary

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman is aware he’s had a revolving door in his secondary.

You don’t have to tell him that at least half of the four starters in the opener during each of his three seasons have been different from the four starters in the final game. The nickel spot has been just as unstable.

Gettleman understands this year is going to be different, too, after moving on from Pro Bowl cornerback Josh Norman and strong safety Roman Harper.

That means two starters from Super Bowl 50 will be different, and three could be if one of the three cornerbacks drafted last week becomes a starter.

The nickel spot most definitely will be different with free-agent acquisition Brandon Boykin or rookie Zack Sanchez expected to take over.

But Gettleman insisted he didn’t, as he calls it, “shop hungry" in a draft in which three of his five picks were corners.

“You guys have made the point -- and it’s legit – that we’ve been rotating players through there since I got here," Gettleman told reporters Saturday following the draft. “And you don’t want to do that.

“You want to have a core. You obviously want to have stability, like we hope we have with the offensive line now and obviously we have with the linebackers and now with the wide receiving group. We fixed that. You want stability."

Gettleman believes this year’s draft might have fixed that at corner.

The Panthers drafted two 6-foot-1 corners in James Bradberry (Samford) and Daryl Worley (West Virginia) in the second and third rounds. They added Sanchez in the fifth.

“All three of these young kids are talented enough to play in this league, and we feel like a couple of them have a chance to be really good players," Gettleman said. “That’s one of the reasons we went with three guys, and it was the value.

“You talk about value and we talk about it all the time and they were too good to pass up. That’s where we’re at."

So did Gettleman abandon his best-player-available for need? To a degree, he did. After taking defensive tackle Vernon Butler in the first round, the Panthers went with corners when there might bhave been higher rated players at other positions.

But because the rest of the roster was stable at least two deep, Gettleman had the luxury to stockpile players at one position.

It’s no different than in 2013, when Gettleman selected defensive tackles Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short in the first two rounds. He believed the interior of the defensive front was in need of a huge upgrade and he made it.

Gettleman stressed that didn’t reach for the corners, specifically Bradberry and Worley, who weren’t ranked in the top 250 players by Pro Football Focus.

Gettleman had second-round grades on both.

“Again, I like to think by now you guys realize I don’t care about the outside noise," Gettleman said. “I really don’t. I don’t read stuff. I don’t worry about it.

“It’s us getting killed [in 2013] for the draft and then they have a re-draft and four of the guys should have gone in the first round. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. We know what we need for our team to be successful and that’s the kind of players we’re looking for."

Gettleman also insisted he didn’t inflate grades to justify the selections.

“You can’t deny your need, but you can’t overdraft, either," he said. “It’s a fragile balance. It really is. If you overdraft a guy, you go to camp and you’re just going to be ticked off, you’re going to be cranky and you’re going to be cranky with the kid and it ain’t his fault.

“If he’s a fifth-rounder and we drafted in the third, well then, shame on us. We really worked hard at not inflating the grades on the corners and making sure we don’t, we call it, ‘shop hungry.’ "

But the Panthers did shop for stability to avoid turnover like this during the past three years:

2013

2014

  • Opener – LCB Antoine Cason, RCB Melvin White, SS Roman Harper, FS Thomas DeCoud.

  • Finale – LCB Bene’ Benwikere, RCB Josh Norman, SS Roman Harper, FS Tre Boston.

2015

2016 projected secondary depth chart