A year ago at this time, the Carolina Panthers were sitting with the number one pick in the draft, and the symphony of noise from the experts with an opinion was reaching a crescendo.
It is ironic how quiet it can become a year later if the choice is the right one. Sportsline's Clark Judge wrote about this recently in looking back at the selection of quarterback Cam Newton.
While the volume of suggestions from the experts may not be as loud this year with the ninth pick, they come from more directions with more variables.
Last year, the Panthers were driving the car. This year, they are in the middle of the intersection trying to assess the traffic.
As head coach Ron Rivera has pointed out, the team is in a position where it must read and react.
What has not changed from a year ago is the approach of Rivera and general manager Marty Hurney. They are following the same formula that led to Newton a year ago, and the first step in that process is shutting out the noise. Not because everyone is wrong, but listening to all the various views is a recipe for confusion.
The scouts left training camp in Spartanburg last summer to start scouring the country for college players. After the season, they reconvened at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis to take another look. That was followed by various pro days back at the schools in the spring.
By now a team has to trust its instincts and information. If that means picking the player deemed the best on your draft board even if it is at a position of strength, so be it. The Panthers were confronted with that situation when they chose Ryan Kalil when there was not a "need" at center.
Jonathan Stewart was selected when Carolina already had DeAngelo Williams. The result has been the best running game in the NFL over the last three years.
Then there are the later picks which are greeted less vociferously but can make all the difference. Dan Morgan and Kris Jenkins had already made 2001 a good draft before Steve Smith made it great.
At the ninth spot, the Panthers have several options, but they will not know those until moments before they go on the clock. At that time, the tick-tick-tick is the only noise that matters.
The work has been done, and it's time for the blinders and earplugs and, hopefully, another Steve Smith, Ryan Kalil or Cam Newton.
Director of Communications Charlie Dayton has worked 34 years in the NFL. Before joining the Panthers in 1994, he was VP of Communications for the Washington Redskins. Dayton has worked on the NFL media staff for 25 Super Bowls, is a past winner of the Horrigan Award and was recently recognized with the National Association of Black Journalists Merit Award.