When the draft was over, head coach Matt Rhule talked about having faith in having confidence on the board. He also relied on his own two eyes.
Among the seven picks they made on Saturday were four guys they coached in the Senior Bowl and one guy (fourth round who ran back Chuba Hubbard) who had a big day against the Rhules Baylor team two years ago.
But for the most part, they remained true to the process that Rhule talks about so often.
Rhule admitted that if they had not acted out of their first election on Saturday, the 1
They also followed it up with the weekend’s first election.
General manager Scott Fitterer made it clear before the draft that he wanted to add numbers to the list, and if the right trade offer had come Thursday night, they would probably have moved back from eighth place.
But they also looked around them and looked at their own evaluation and took the player they needed, instead of the one that would be easier to sell.
Cornerback Jaycee Horn is the kind of cover player you need to have if you are to compete against Julio Jones or Michael Thomas or Mike Evans. Horn is also the kind of player they did not have. If you have to endure the pain of a season that provides a top-10 pick, get out of it with a cornerstone player. They think Horn is one.
Lots of people questioned their decision not to take Justin Fields, and drafting a quarterback in the first round is the easiest way to earn forgiveness from a fan – for at least a year or two.
But instead of reproducing Sam Darnold, they did what his previous team never quite did.
In addition to spending the first pick on the Horn, the Panthers’ draft class was a symbolic hug to Darnold, an acknowledgment that in order to make this thing work, they needed to protect their quarterback and give him plenty of parts to work on. with.
They have a couple of very good starters in DJ Moore and Robby Anderson. But when they acknowledged that Anderson was in the final year of his contract, they picked up Terrace Marshall Jr. and Shi Smith over the weekend and added goals that can be cultivated and incorporated into the offense. There is also Tommy Tremble in the third round who could be both protection and goal.
They also recognized the need to protect Darnold, which is why they invested in tackling Brady Christensen and guard Deonte Brown. Whether Christensen can remain the left tackle that he was in college remains to be seen (they are not committing to positions yet), but the Panthers line needed both youth and quantity.
The Panthers did not solve all the problems on the list over the weekend. They could not have. No team can. There’s still uncertainty on the offensive line and in the secondary area, and they may not have the amount of talent off the top shelf to fight for a Super Bowl right now.
But by being honest with themselves, recognizing where they were and moving with purpose in a particular direction, they may have moved significantly closer to the goal.