Dave Gettleman’s Press Conference
- He spoke very highly early on about the depth on the offensive side of the ball, particularly at offensive tackle, wide receiver and running backs. The fact that this was the side he started talking about first shouldn’t come as a surprise and I would suspect that this draft will be much more focused on the offense. The emergence of Bene Benwikere and Tre Boston in the secondary late in the season filled a major hole and now gives the Panthers much more flexibility heading into the offseason.
- He was asked a number of specific questions about the NFL Draft but said he has yet to look at much tape of the college players yet this offseason. He said he is still evaluating the pro players and in “free agent mode”. He really doesn’t start looking at the tape of the college players until he leaves the NFL Scouting Combine.
- He talked about his philosophy of using free agency to set up the draft which allows him to take the best player available at the time of their pick. I would imagine they will try and address other position in free agency like wide receiver, running back, possibly secondary and save offensive tackle for the draft. There are better, and more, options in the NFL Draft for left tackle than there are in free agency.
- He talked a little bit about the salary cap and how the Panthers are heading into free agency. He mentions that they are not out of the hole yet. He said the team is in better position this year than last year and they were in better position last year than the year prior.
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Ron Rivera’s Press Conference
- Head Coach Ron Rivera followed Gettleman’s press conference and was asked first about the changes made on his coaching staff. He talked about putting people in positions that played to their strengths. The big chance made this off season was moving Richard Rodgers from special teams back to the defensive side of the ball, where he has the most experience. The move of promoting Bruce DeHaven was a great move for the Panthers and I believe it is one that will pay major dividends next year.
- He was asked about the prospects in this draft and he talked about how there is great depth at a number of key positions. He specifically mentions offensive tackle, wide receiver as well as defensive backs and linebackers. These are all positions that I would expect the Panthers will try and upgrade come April when they are on the clock.
- Rivera had a chance to talk a little bit about Cam Newton, who he said he met with last week. Newton told him that he felt very good and that there doesn’t seem to be any lingering effects from his ankle, ribs or back injury. He is currently finishing up his degree at Auburn and expected to graduate in May.
- One player he specifically talked about during his press conference was center Ryan Kalil, who he said did not get enough credit for the job he did last year. This is certainly fair to say considering he played a majority of the season with two rookies on either side of him at guard (Andrew Norwell and Trai Turner), a right tackle (Mike Remmers) who was called up from the practice squad and Byron Bell who was in his first year at left tackle. The offensive line looked pretty bad early on but Kalil and his veteran presence seemed to help this group down the stretch.
- Rivera was asked what the team has to do to compete with that top tier in the NFC. He specifically talked about the Seattle game and how the Panthers need to make plays over the top and stop the opponents from making the plays over the top. This certainly would seem to speak to the Panthers looking for speed at wide receiver and safeties who can keep the plays in front of them.
- The last question for Rivera was in regards to Byron Bell and what direction the team might go. Rivera said they are still in the evaluation process and there are a lot of things that are in play. It depends on who is out there in free agency, draft and even Bell himself. He did say Bell “did a lot of good things down the stretch.” I believe Bell could provide value to the Panthers however he is not yet ready to be a starting left tackle in the NFL. If the team can sign him to a low-level deal to be the team’s back up tackle on either side, it would really help this roster’s depth.
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