CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Scott Fitterer is only a couple of months into remaining an NFL general manager, but he’s now obtained the poker factor of it down pat when it comes to the draft.
Requested if he’s completed at quarterback right after the Carolina Panthers traded with the New York Jets for 2018 initially-round decide on Sam Darnold on Monday, Fitterer might as effectively have been donning a pair of dim sunglasses with a cap pulled down as considerably as it will go to make confident he did not give away alerts of what is upcoming.
“This isn’t going to consider us out of anything in the draft,” explained Fitterer, employed on Jan. 14 soon after paying the preceding 19 a long time in several capacities for the Seattle Seahawks. “It will not just take us out of getting a quarterback, it doesn’t get us out of using any place.
“We needed to get to a position in which the roster was in a excellent location, and we could acquire the greatest obtainable participant at No. 8. We could normally move up, and we could always go back again, but this puts us in a position to make the ideal football conclusion for this group shifting ahead.”
Theoretically, he’s appropriate. The Panthers have filled wants, mainly via no cost company, at critical positions this kind of as still left and proper tackle, limited close, middle linebacker, edge rusher and cornerback.
They also extra Darnold following an exhaustive endeavor to enhance from Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback.
But not all of the offseason moves have solidified crucial places. Cam Erving appears to be the respond to at left deal with, but is he really? According to Pro Football Concentrate, Erving ranks previous out of 151 offensive linemen with at the very least 1,500 snaps since 2018.
Cornerback Rashaan Melvin provides Carolina a participant with six years of expertise, but he has only 40 commences and 4 interceptions considering the fact that moving into the league with Baltimore in 2014.
Dan Arnold provides Carolina a go-catching danger at limited stop, but he didn’t have to have receptions to be an up grade from Ian Thomas and Chris Manhertz, who blended for 26 receptions for 197 yards and one landing past season.
Arnold, by the way, doesn’t have a ton of receptions, possibly. His 31 catches for 438 yards very last time in Arizona give him 51 in a few seasons.
So what do the Panthers do with the eighth pick? If they truly feel in Darnold, and all indications are they do due to the fact they prepare to decide up his fifth-yr option, then they never will need to pick a quarterback there.
That means an offensive deal with, cornerback or limited conclude — with a center linebacker also in the photo — should be the priority. Here’s a closer appear at their choices:
Still left deal with
If Oregon’s Penei Sewell gets past Cincinnati at No. 5, there’s a great likelihood he’ll fall to 8 and Carolina could shore up that place very long term the way it did with Jordan Gross in 2003. Gross, by the way, was the eighth pick that year out of Utah. If Sewell is absent, Carolina has to strongly contemplate Rashawn Slater, rated the sixth-very best player by ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay. Neither is a hot decide on, but as Fitterer mentioned, the goal is to make the strains on each fronts and there is actually not a defensive deal with worthy of a best-10 select this calendar year.
Melvin was signed to a a person-12 months offer and Donte Jackson is getting into the final year of his rookie offer. Neither is regarded as a lockdown corner who would give defensive coordinator Phil Snow the skill to be more innovative. Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II is, while. In the NFC South, a division loaded with star huge receivers like Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Michael Thomas, Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, he would be an excellent in shape. If not Surtain, probably South Carolina corner Jaycee Horn, who would be a far better option if Fitterer traded back a couple of places and included a draft select.
It is difficult to envision Florida’s Kyle Pitts acquiring previous Atlanta at No. 4 — if the Falcons never trade the decide, of study course — and it is just as hard to imagine the Falcons trading with division rival Carolina. But if Pitts does drop to No. 5, it would be value trading with Cincinnati to get him. The Panthers would be acquiring not only the greatest limited close in the draft, but 1 of the ideal in general receivers. Carolina coach Matt Rhule explained repeatedly last yr that a massive threat at limited conclude, like Travis Kelce is in Kansas City, was the most important detail lacking from the offense.
“He’s an elite broad receiver,” Florida mentor Dan Mullen stated soon after Pitts’ professional day. “And I believe he’s an elite restricted stop.”
Pitts would make Darnold and the complete offense improved. It’s well worth noting that Rhule, in his first calendar year at Temple, was the initial mentor to give Pitts a scholarship. That took place in 2016 when Pitts was a sophomore at Abington Senior Significant in the Philadelphia area.
Carolina upgraded in cost-free agency with Denzel Perryman, who has additional range and physicality than Tahir Whitehead did in 2020. But what if Penn State’s Micah Parsons is accessible at No. 8? He could be to the middle of the protection what Luke Kuechly was for most of his eight seasons. Kuechly was the ninth over-all decide on in 2012.
You can not absolutely disregard this probability, considering the fact that Fitterer did not rule it out and for the reason that Darnold’s monitor file with the Jets is shaky at very best in conditions of his record (13-25), precision and selection-creating. Even Fitterer utilized the phrase “gamble” when chatting about the trade. ESPN analyst Mike Tannenbaum, in his hottest mock draft, has Carolina using Ohio State’s Justin Fields at 8.
“You by no means can have way too many excellent quarterbacks,” he said on Tuesday.
If there was any motive to feel Bridgewater would continue to be on the roster in 2021 as a backup, this would just take treatment of that. And when numerous sense the 49ers traded up to No. 3 in get to grab Alabama’s Mac Jones, a participant Carolina cherished when the employees coached him at the Senior Bowl, you won’t be able to absolutely rule out the probability of him falling to No. 8.
The only thing that is particular is Fitterer is not exhibiting his hand.