CHARLOTTE, N.C.-- The Panthers will look to fix their defense through the NFL draft.
One year after quarterback Cam Newton dramatically improved Carolina's struggling offense, general manager Marty Hurney is looking for a few difference makers who can help upgrade the league's 28th-ranked defense.
Hurney says the team will take the "best player available" with the ninth overall pick, but concedes upgrading the defense this week is vitally important considering it allowed 377.6 yards and 26.8 points per game in 2011.
The Panthers did little to upgrade the defense in free agency.
They have seven picks in all, but none in the third round.
Coach Ron Rivera says if opposing teams look at the Panthers "they're going to say, `Well, we can exploit their defense."'
The Panthers are out to change that.