NFL Draft: Panthers have successful weekend
By Mike Cranston
Keeping up with the Panthers’ draft …
CHARLOTTE ó Everette Brown climbed onto the podium Sunday, put on a blue Carolina Panthers cap and broke into a wide smile.
A day after being chosen by his favorite team growing up, the eastern North Carolina native was eager to show the Panthers made the right move in trading next year’s first-round pick to get the speedy if undersized defensive end.
“Never did I think that it would quite happen this way,” Brown said. “I tell you when I got that phone call yesterday and San Francisco was on TV (on the clock), then to hear coach (John) Fox’s voice, it was the best day ever.
“My family, they are all Carolina Panthers fans. For me, just to be able to put a uniform and be in a great situation here in Carolina was the best thing that could have happened.”
Brown was expecting to be a first-round pick, but questions about his 6-foot-2, 256-pound frame caused the former Florida State Seminole to drop into the second round. That’s when the Panthers aggressively called teams willing to deal their early second-round pick. They found a taker in San Francisco, but it came at a price: Carolina’s first-round choice in 2010.
Brown is the type of player new defensive coordinator Ron Meeks had success with in his old job at Indianapolis. Defensive ends Dwight Freeney (6-1, 268) and Robert Mathis (6-2, 245) are undersized, too.
Meeks’ systems with the Colts required the defensive line to create most of the quarterback pressure because there is little blitzing, and Carolina’s line was inconsistent last season with Tyler Brayton lining up opposite Julius Peppers.
Brown had 131/2 sacks and four forced fumbles with the Seminoles last season.
“Definitely, coach Meeks in Indianapolis, those guys really knew how to get after the passer,” Brown said. “They weren’t the biggest players, but one thing about it when you turn on that film, they were 100 mph until the echo of the whistle. That’s the way I played at Florida State and that’s the way that I’m going to continue to play.”
Brown’s immediate role is uncertain depending on a resolution to the Peppers stalemate. The four-time Pro Bowl defensive end hasn’t signed his franchise tag tender and may not show up for the three-day minicamp that begins Friday.
Peppers’ future could determine if Brown is used at left or right end.
MILITARY IRVIN: Carolina Panthers third-round pick Corvey Irvin took an unusual path to the NFL.
Lacking direction coming out of high school in Augusta, Ga., Irvin’s best college offers were from Fort Valley State and South Carolina State.
The defensive tackle instead decided to go to a junior college with a twist: Georgia Military College.
“The military stuff, it was kind of tough for me,” Irvin said. “I’m a hard worker. I have good work ethic. I put that to use when I went to GMC. I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into but we had each other’s back. Georgia Military taught me a lot, from loyalty and how to be a man.”
Two years later, Irvin had plenty of offers from major schools before choosing Georgia. He became a starter early last season as a senior.
MILITARY FIAMMETTA: It was a special weekend for Tony Fiammetta.
Five days after his father Vincent, a 24-year veteran of the Marines, returned from Afghanistan, father and son were together when the Syracuse fullback was taken in the fourth round.
“To share this moment with him is one of the best days of my life,” the younger Fiammetta said.
Vincent Fiammetta, a lieutenant colonel, had been stationed in Afghanistan since July.
“My father is my biggest role model,” Fiammetta said. “I’ve learned a ton of things from him. Pretty much the biggest gift that he’s given me though as been the lesson of having self discipline. I’ve carried that through my career at Syracuse and I’m going to do it when I’m in the NFL as well.”
RICHARDSON’S TALK: It had become a Panthers tradition on the second day of the draft: Owner Jerry Richardson taking Carolina’s top picks on a tour of Bank of America Stadium on a golf cart, showing them the sights and giving a stern talk about what he expected from his players.
With Richardson recovering from a heart transplant, he wasn’t at the stadium on Sunday. But he still talked to second-round pick Everette Brown by phone.
“He was very optimistic and explained the trade that took place, that he really wanted me to come in and be a part of their organization here,” Brown said. “… He told me when we come back for minicamp to be sure to stop by. He wanted to go over the whole program and where we’re headed.”
SMOKEY’S NEPHEW: Yes, Panthers sixth-round pick Duke Robinson is the great nephew of singer Smokey Robinson.
But the ex-Oklahoma guard acknowledged he’s only met his famous relative “once or twice” as a kid. Robinson said the story took on a life of its own after he told a friend in college.
And no, Robinson can’t carry a note.
“I can’t sing,” Robinson said, laughing.
EXTRA POINTS: Seventh-round pick Captain Munnerlyn, a cornerback from South Carolina, hopes to get a chance returning kicks. “I hope they’re looking for a return guy. I feel like I can help the team,” Munnerlyn said. … As for his first name, Munnerlyn said he was named after his great-great grandfather. … The Panthers’ three-day minicamp starts Friday.