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April 25, 2009

Brown slips to the second round

As the first day of the NFL Draft wore on, ESPN would cut to Everette Brown sitting at his North Carolina home. His usual beaming smile started to fade as the first round moved to the second and his name had not yet been called.

But, early in the second round, his cell phone went to his ear and the smile returned to his face. As it turned out, Brown's NFL future won't start very far from home.

Brown, Florida State's former All-American defensive end, became a Carolina Panther with the 11th pick of the second round, the 43rd pick overall. That selection put FSU back into the first day of the NFL draft after a one-year hiatus. The NFL moved the third round to the draft's second day last year, and defensive tackle Andre Fluellen went to the Detroit Lions in the third.

For Brown, it was a nice reward for a long wait.

"If I had one team I wanted to come to, it would have been the Carolina Panthers," Brown said during a conference call with Carolina media.

He remembered a Panthers game he attended at age 14, when they hosted the Saints, and said that energy was something he couldn't forget.

"All I remember is the excitement I had going to an NFL game," he said, "getting there early and coming up to the edge of the stands, watching the players warm up."

The Panthers, who didn't own a 2009 first-round pick, gave up their 2010 first-rounder to San Francisco in order to move to No. 43 and get Brown. Carolina general manager Marty Hurney said during his Saturday press conference that, even though he picked Brown in the second round, he had first-round talent.

"We said coming in that if he was there at a certain spot, we would try to get him," Hurney said. "One of our needs was pass rusher, and we felt Everette Brown was one of the better pass rushers in this draft."

Hurney added he felt Brown could be an "all-around" defensive end.

Many early mock drafts slotted Brown as an early first-round pick. He started to slide down those lists, though, as the days went on. ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. said during the network's Saturday draft coverage that Brown's 40-yard-dash time, clocked at 4.73 seconds at the NFL Combine, didn't work in his favor.

"His speed is good, not great," Kiper said. "The concern was, at 6-1 and 255 pounds, he didn't have that Dwight Freeney-type closing speed."

But Kiper still considered Brown a top-level pass rusher and a standout person.

"This year he had numerous multiple-sack games," Kiper said, "and if you're looking for one of the top character guys in the draft, it would be Everette Brown."

Brown exploded onto the national scene in 2008 as one of college football's top pass rushers. He tallied 13.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss, and bypassed his senior year to enter the draft. He was named a second-team All-American and finished runner-up in voting for both ACC defensive player of the year and overall player of the year.

Brown joins a Carolina team already adept at rushing the passer, at least from one position. The Panthers finished ninth in the NFL in sacks with 37. Julius Peppers accounted for 14.5 of those sacks (no other Panther recorded more than six) but his long-term future with the team is up in the air. Carolina stuck the franchise tag on him and trade rumors swirled for a while.

As of now, Peppers remains a Panther, one Brown can't wait to work with.


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