Panthers double up on defensive line with Short

April 26, 2013

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said Tom Coughlin's words still resonate in his ears.
Gettleman, who worked alongside Coughlin during his tenure with the New York Giants, recalls the two-time Super Bowl winning head coach explaining to him a simple theory when it comes to the NFL.
"He told me big men allow you to compete," Gettleman said.
If Gettleman had any doubts about that notion, they were expunged when the Giants pressured Tom Brady into mistakes and beat the New England Patriots in a pair of recent Super Bowls.
"It crystalized everything for me," Gettleman said Friday night.
Gettleman is carrying Coughlin's approach over to his new team, using Carolina's first two draft picks on defensive tackles.
The Panthers took Kawann Short from Purdue in the second round with the 44th overall pick. That came one day after Carolina selected Star Lotulelei from Utah with the No. 14 pick in the first round Thursday night.
The Panthers didn't have a third-round pick.
Gettleman called Short a legitimate three-down defensive tackle, but especially likes his skills as a pass rusher. The 6-foot-3, 308-pound Short started 50 straight games Purdue and registered 19.5 sacks during his final three seasons.
"He's most the most natural pass rusher of all of the defensive tackles in the draft," Gettleman said. "He gives us a tremendous defensive line rotation."
The Panthers have Lotulelei and veteran Dwan Edwards penciled in as their starting defensive tackles, but they fully expect Short to see plenty of action.
"There are plenty of snaps for everybody," Gettleman said. "You are in your sub package 55 percent of the time now and you need to be able to rotate these guys through so they can create the havoc they're capable of creating."
Said Short: "I don't think I'm the type of player where you can say he's a run stopper or a pass rusher. I think I can do both. Once I get in that rhythm there's no stopping."
Short had a picture of himself alongside Cowboys owner Jerry Jones posted on his Twitter page Friday night.
But he said he wanted to be drafted by the Panthers after a visit to the team's facility prior to the NFL draft and a great meeting with defensive line coach Eric Washington.
"I'm taking that down right away," he said of the photo with Jones. "I'm a part of Panthers nation now."
Short said he wasn't sure the Panthers would be interested after they selected Lotulelei in the first round.
It marks only the sixth time since 1991 that a team has drafted defensive tackles back-to-back with its first two picks.
But the Panthers felt like they needed to upgrade a defensive front that finished 14th in the league against the run and only got 8.5 sacks from the defensive tackle position -- six of those coming from Edwards.
"Star is a great player and I can't wait to play beside him," Short said. "Now I want to come out there and try to win a championship."
The Panthers don't have much experience at cornerback after releasing veteran Chris Gamble earlier this offseason and it seemed a possibility they might use one of their first two picks to land one.
But Gettleman likes the team's youth at cornerback and believes a strong defensive line rotation can cure a lot of issues in the secondary.
"A quarterback has a tough time throwing from his back," Gettleman said. "I've seen what a feeding frenzy looks like."
He cited the Giants sacking Donovan McNabb 12 times in a game, as well as their wins over the Patriots in the Super Bowls in 2007 and 2011 seasons as examples.
"Does a great pass rush mask issues in the secondary? Of course it does," Gettleman said.