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This will be Marty Hurney’s first draft since he stepped away as the Carolina Panthers’ general manager during the 2012 season.

But Hurney handled 11 drafts during his first tenure as the Panthers’ GM, beginning with his selection of a North Carolina defensive end named Julius Peppers with the No. 2 overall pick in 2002.

He says the hardest part of being out of the NFL for five seasons was during the draft, which in recent years he watched from home (not a sports bar, he pointed out Tuesday in response to a question).

Hurney says he gained perspective during his time away. That includes the value of holding on to future first-round picks rather than trading them — as he did in 2008 and ’09 to move up to take offensive tackle Jeff Otah (in the first round) and defensive end Everette Brown (in the second round), respectively.


“When you step back and you look at things and some of the things you’ve done, you look at what you did and what you can do better. You also look at what you did well, and you want to try to improve on it.”

How Hurney managed those previous drafts provides some clues as to how things might shake out this week in the Panthers’ war room at Bank of America Stadium.

Here are five things to watch based on Hurney’s previous draft classes.

1. First things first: Expect big things from the initial pick.

From Peppers in ’02 to Luke Kuechly in ’12, Hurney pretty well aced his first-round picks.

Eight of the Panthers’ 10 first-rounders over that span became Pro Bowlers. The other two were cornerback Chris Gamble, a nine-year starter, and Otah, Hurney’s only first-round bust.

Hurney found success at the top of the first round with Cam Newton (No. 1 overall in ’11) and Peppers, as well as years the Panthers picked at the bottom of the opening round (Gamble, running back DeAngelo Williams and linebacker Jon Beason).

Hurney has taken only one safety (a position of need for the Panthers this year) in the first round — Thomas Davis, who was a linebacker by his second season.

The draft classes from Marty Hurney’s first stint as general manager provide clues as to what the Carolina Panthers might do this week during the NFL draft. What does Charlotte Observer analysis show?

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