- David Newton, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman doesn't believe in calling an NFL draft pick -- particularly a first-round draft pick -- a bust until after the third season.
But in this world of instant grading, I don't have to abide by that same rule. And Gettleman can't deny that, for the most part, his first two drafts with the Panthers have been a success.
The draft is a big reason Rotoworld.com recently rated Gettleman as the ninth best general manager in the league.
"The last few years we've certainly hit on our first-round picks, as well as two and three and four and five," he said.
By my count, Gettleman has hit on eight of his 11 draft picks, including all five of his picks in the first three rounds. Two of the three misses were hard to fairly evaluate because of injuries.
Gettleman has nine picks in the 2015 draft, which begins at 8 p.m. ET Thursday with the first round. How he will do won't be determined until probably sometime in January or February.
So let's look back at what he's accomplished during his first two drafts:
Player Rd. Pick Pos. School
Star Lotulelei 1 14 DT Utah
Hit or miss: Hit. Has started 29 games his first two seasons and is the anchor of the interior line. Was a steal this far down the draft board.
Kawann Short 2 44 DT Purdue
Hit or miss: Hit. Had nine starts in 2014 and has played in all 32 regular-season games. Gettleman initially was ridiculed for selecting DTs in the first two rounds, but not now. Short is a solid member of a four-man rotation.
Edmund Kugbila 4 108 OG Valdosta State
Hit or miss: Miss, but needs an asterisk beside his name. Injuries have kept him from playing a down.
A.J. Klein 5 148 LB Iowa State
Kenjon Barner 6 182 RB Oregon
Hit or miss: Miss. Perhaps the biggest miss by Gettleman in two years. Wasn't a solid blocker and didn't show much in the running game. Was traded to Philadelphia prior to last season.
Player Rd. Pick Pos. School
Kelvin Benjamin 1 28 WR Florida State
Hit or miss: Hit. Started 15 regular-season games as a rookie. Had 73 catches for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns. Had 11 catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns in two playoff games.
Kony Ealy 2 60 DE Missouri
Hit or miss: Hit. Started slowly, but made big contributions late in the season in a non-starting role. Had four sacks. Still unproven as an every down end.
Trai Turner 3 92 OG LSU
Hit or miss: Hit. Started nine games at right guard and would have started more had it not been for injuries. Expected to be a long-term fixture on the line.
Tre Boston 4 128 S North Carolina
Hit or miss: Hit. Started five regular-season games and two playoff games. Panthers ended the regular season 4-0 after he was inserted as the full-time free safety. Returned an interception 84 yards for a touchdown.
Bene' Benwikere 5 148 CB San Jose State
Hit or miss: Hit. Panthers went 5-1 (including two playoff games) after he was made the every down corner opposite Josh Norman. His strength still is at nickel.
Tyler Gaffney 6 204 RB Stanford
Hit or miss: Miss, but again this needs an asterisk. Suffered a season-ending knee injury in training camp and was claimed by New England. The Panthers liked what they saw of him as a runner and particularly a blocker prior to that. Putting him on waivers was a mistake.