The Carolina Panthers made their first step in the post-Josh Norman defensive backfield on Friday night.
Carolina took Samford cornerback James Bradberry with the No. 62 overall pick in the second round, giving the Panthers much-needed size at a depleted cornerback position.
At 6-foot-1 and 211 pounds, Bradberry has the ideal size the Panthers like in an outside cornerback. He should be able to challenge bigger receivers in the NFC South with his 33 3/8-inch-long arms.
Bradberry, who originally went to Arkansas State before transferring to Samford, had four interceptions in his final two seasons with Bulldogs. The Red Wolves wanted to play Bradberry at safety, so he transferred out to play cornerback.
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Carolina has done a nice job of developing corners in its zone defense system, and clearly the Panthers want to develop Bradberry on the outside.
When the Panthers rescinded Norman’s franchise tag two weeks ago, it left a gaping hole in the depth chart. Carolina will start Bene Benwikere on the outside in training camp, and the thought is new Panther Brandon Boykin will slide into the slot corner position.
This isn’t the first Samford defensive back the Panthers have gotten to know recently. Cortland Finnegan, who came out of semi-retirement to play the last half of the season for Carolina, was a seventh-rounder out of Samford in 2006.
Bradberry is the second small-school player in as many picks for the Panthers in the 2016 draft. The Panthers plucked defensive tackle Vernon Butler out of Louisiana Tech on Thursday night with the 30th overall pick.