The NFL Draft is approaching quickly and the Carolina Panthers’ GM Dave Gettleman held his pre-draft press conference on Tuesday. At this point, general managers are not willing to give out much information and will hold their cards close to the vest. However, there was a few things of note from Gettleman’s press conference that would be of interest to Panthers’ fans. For the full press conference, click here.
The 2015 Draft not as strong as last year’s Class
One of the first things he talked about at his press conference was the quality in this year’s class compared to previous drafts. He said the 2014 Draft was by far the strongest and this year is very similar to the 2013 Draft class but slightly better.
He was asked how many first round grades he has this year and Gettleman said he has “enough.” He also said the past two seasons their second round picks, they had first round grades. In 2013 that was Kawann Short after the Panthers used their first round pick on Star Lotulelei.
At the very least if the Panthers have enough first round grades, it would be safe to say they have 25 players who they believe to be first round picks.
Most Draft Picks in 2015 of any Draft under Gettleman
The first two drafts for the Panthers run by Gettleman, the organization had a combined 11 draft picks. This year they have nine. This gives the organization more flexibility and options heading into this weekend, particularly if they are considering moving up.
He mentions specifically the fifth round and how they wouldn’t put much thought in moving their fifth round pick with the two compensatory picks at the end of the round. NFL teams are not allowed to trade their compensatory picks however the team’s fifth round pick is only eight slots ahead of their compensatory picks.
If any fans are expecting a big jump in the first round, or any round for that matter, it may not happen because the Panthers’ GM doesn’t believe in being “one player away.” It does not sound like he would be willing to mortgage the future to move up for a player, but if there is a player who they feel may go a few picks before their pick he certainly won’t be afraid to make that move.
Expect Panthers’ to Draft a Running Back
He didn’t come out and say it that the Panthers would be drafting a running back but he did seem to imply that this a position they will be looking to address. He talked about how whether or not Fozzy Whittaker could be a first or second down running back. He seemed unsure, mainly because Whittaker has never been asked to play in that role.
The team released their longtime running back DeAngelo Williams this offseason and with Jonathan Stewart’s injury history, the team needs a capable running back who can fill in for Stewart if the need arises. Luckily for Carolina, this draft is very deep at running back and they should be able to find a capable running back late. This would allow the team to address other needs but still get a running back capable of splitting the carries with Stewart.
Looking for Stability at Left Tackle
Another position that Gettleman talked about during his press conference was the left tackle position and how the signing of Michael Oher could have an effect on their draft strategy. He talked about the fact that this season will be the third straight season with a new left tackle after the retirement of Jordan Gross after 2013 and Byron Bell leaving as a free agent this offseason.
He noted that it was important to the organization that Oher signs a two-year deal and he hopes that he can bring some stability to the position. He is hoping to stop the revolving door at the left tackle position.
In terms of the Draft, he believes that there are four or five prospects in this class that can play the left tackle position. The fact that there are so few that he believes can play the position, may make him more inclined to use his first round pick on one of those five players. The presence of Oher though gives Gettleman some flexibility with this pick and doesn’t force him to reach.