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2023 Draft Day 1 Transcripts

Panthers head coach Frank Reich, general manager Scott Fitterer, and owner David Tepper

RE: On when the team first started targeting Bryce Young

Scott Fitterer: You know, I think really a couple of years ago when our area scouts, (college scout) Robert Haines went through, they really liked him then. Then just sort of the last couple of years, the study of him was something that they really felt strongly about. When we met in February, there was just overwhelming conviction for him during our draft meetings. Coach (Frank Reich) actually had just gotten here at the time; he was putting the staff together. He came in, he was a part of that, he heard it, because we wanted him to hear how strongly these guys feel about him and what they know about him, kind of set the table for him, so he can go and do his evaluation with the staff. So we were a little bit further ahead. But throughout the process he checked every box that we had. You know, we tested him, we talked to him, we had dinner with him. Just every time we met with him, we felt more and more convicted. And we liked all the guys, but Bryce was the guy that we really felt strongly about.

RE: On what the conversation was like between Fitterer and Reich on Monday when they confirmed to each other that Bryce Young would be the pick

Scott Fitterer: He likened it to a proposal, that was interesting. It was quick, it was pretty obvious. We already knew but I went in, just asked him. It was really a five-second conversation and then we moved on to ok what's the plan next? What do we do next?

RE: On if it took more to convince Reich that Young was the right pick because due to his size

Frank Reich: No, it wasn't like I took more convincing, I'm just always committed to the process. Listen, Scott (Fitterer) couldn't have handled this any better and like he said it was very clear. I got hired and then a couple of weeks later we were in draft meetings and I sat in this meeting that Scott's running and their talking and Scott and all of the scouts are talking about all of the quarterbacks. They are reading on all of them, we're watching film, scouts are talking about them. And basically Scott proposes a question at the end of that meeting like hey, so if we trade up, where is our conviction? And it was unanimous with every guy in that room, starting from Scott on down that Bryce was the guy. That was great for me to hear. But what I appreciate about the way that Scott handled it, it was like hey, he was like Frank you take your time. You hear how we feel but you and the coaches get after it. It wasn't much convincing. You just watch the tape, there's a lot said about the size. At the end of the day there's a lot of factors that go into it but we're coaches, we're scouts, we watch the tape and when you watch the tape Bryce Young is the best player.

RE: On Scott Fitterer mentioning they liked all three quarterbacks

Scott Fitterer: I said, I think it was all four. I think I said all of the quarterbacks. I don't know if that was heard wrong but it would be all four.

RE: On there being one particular play or something that constantly stood out on film when breaking down the games of each quarterback

Frank Reich: There wasn't one play, that was just it. I mean there were lots of kind of highlight plays but you know there were so many. He's had such a prolific career and he makes all the plays. Every kind of play you want to see a quarterback make, situationally, in the big moments, he make the little throws, the big moments, the big throws; they are all over the tape.

RE: On what the offense will look like under Bryce Young

Frank Reich: Great question and we've been talking about that really for a couple of weeks as a coaching staff. Won't get into all of the particulars but that's what we philosophically are asking ourselves. Going back and watching his tape even more now, watching it not just from an evaluation standpoint but he was so good at so many things in college, but we always like to look at his college tape see what concepts that he was really good at in college that are already in our offense. That's a good starting point, you know. And then see, you know the kind of plays he makes, how he likes to throw the ball when he is throwing certain routes, what style of concepts, there's a lot of different what we call families of passes. That will be what we do over really from now until training camp.

RE: On how much Bryce Young's resume of life-long winning mattered

Frank Reich: It mattered a lot. And that's one of the things that Scott really was clear on from the start, I mean that this guy is a winner. And he's been the best player on the best team against the best competition from the time he was eight years old, literally. Yeah, it meant a lot.

RE: On if Bryce Young will come in as a QB 1

Frank Reich: You know Scott and I have talked about this. Right now he will come in and he'll have to earn it, obviously that's the way it should be. We'll know when the right time is. That will be a decision that Scott and I and the coaching staff will continue to look at. But listen, he's got enough going on right now. I just want him to come in and learn the offense and not have to worry about stepping into the limelight. Just come in learn the offense, get to know these guys. When we step out onto the field the first time, he'll be in that number two spot and then we'll just progress from there at the right time and we'll know when that time is.

RE: On how big of a role Bryce Young's S2 score played in his selection

Scott Fitterer: The one thing about the S2 score, I think people made a big deal about that this year. It's just one small piece of the puzzle. It comes back to the tape, it comes back to the meetings with us, how do they do with the coaches on draft the board, or not the draft board, on board in the board room with them. That's what really matters. It's just a small piece, it's a nice piece, it reaffirms things but all it would do is makes us ask a question, go back, did we miss something, if it was different than what he had.

RE: On if there was a moment in one of the meetings or when watching tape that persuaded Fitterer on his selection

Scott Fitterer: I think during that dinner that we had. We had asked him a question and then he just went on and he went on for about 10 minutes. And it was not just answering the question, it was the level of detail in that and just how precise. It wasn't something he was kind of making up as went to tell a good story, you could tell he actually did this and this was part of his process. And he's unique that way and that's kind of what stood out.

RE: On what the question was they asked Bryce Young

Scott Fitterer: I think it was like what are your practice habits during the week? What is your process during the week? And I think he started like on a Sunday. He went on and on, he got to about Tuesday, it was like about 10 minutes into it and we just said enough.

Frank Reich: At one point Scott and I and Mr. Tepper kind of made eye contact, like this is crazy. And in particular, like Scott is saying he got into how he was studying the film and some of the things that he said about that, I looked at Mr. Tepper, he looked at Scott and was like this is next level stuff. Listen we have all been around him, we've heard good stuff, the other guys said good stuff too but this was just at a level that was different.

RE: On feedback received from Nick Saban about Bryce Young

Scott Fitterer: We actually had the opportunity to sit with him. It was Coach, Mr. Tepper and Nicole (Tepper) and (quarterbacks coach) Josh (McCown). It was his conviction on him. He couldn't say a bad thing. We challenged him, he was just so positive about him and his process. You could tell he really believes in him and I think that was a great meeting and we appreciate his time because that was really helpful in this process.

RE: On when Fitterer informed Bryce Young that the team had made the decision he would be the selection at No. 1

Scott Fitterer: He first found out when Mr. Tepper got on the phone and told him. We didn't tell him beforehand, we didn't tell the agent. We kind of kept it a mystery. I mean it was out there publically quite a bit, but until you actually make that call that was the first time he heard from us.

RE: On Bryce Young's reaction

Scott Fitterer: You would have to ask Mr. Tepper. I'm sure he was excited. 

RE: On Bryce Young's reaction to getting the call

David Tepper: So, I got on the phone and I said to him – I saw Bryce at the Super Bowl, you see a bunch of these guys at parties and such – so I saw Bryce and I said, 'Bryce, do you remember when we were at the Super Bowl and I told you we were going to pick a quarterback. I wasn't kidding." I said, "Do you want to trade in some Sweet Home Alabama for some Sweet Carolina?" He was just excited. I don't know if you could see him on the screen, he was like a little tense in his face but then you could feel him just like so happy sort of thing through the phone. 

RE: On waiting until to tell Bryce Young he was Carolina's pick

David Tepper: Why not? 

RE: On Tepper mentioning the Super Bowl in comments made to fans at the team's draft party following the pick of Young

David Tepper: Well when we went through the process of quarterbacks – Listen, as you guys know we went through a very deep process with the head coach. Found what we believe is the best head coach we could find and then set the head coach free to get the best staff he could find. That is what we did. Then when we were going through this process of these quarterbacks, one of the questions we asked ourselves is which one of these guys will be a guy that can take us there? What's the probability this guy can take us there because there is no sure thing.  So, not to talk about all the different guys, but we thought this guy had the highest probability of winning Super Bowls. I think for myself, I don't want to speak for Frank (Reich) and I think he and Scott (Fitterer), we feel the same way, listen, you want to win Super Bowls. There is no sure thing here but it's a probability sort of. We thought this guy has the best probability of winning us Super Bowls. You know the way he throws the ball, the way he's a point guard, how you can use the different players on the field, how you might not have to have as many elite receivers because he's the point guard, right? He distributes the ball to people with routes. So you can save some money there. We believe we can save some money in other places because of him and put that money into the defensive side of the ball. So it's like this is a guy when you talk about here for us, this Carolina Panther team from the time, I guess, Matt Rhule, talk about the process we went through, defense first. Get the defense set. With Scott, get the offensive line. This year with Frank, we wanted to go out in free agency and the different pieces we needed for wide receivers. We think we have some great route runners in (Adam) Thielen and Hayden (Hurst) and other people here and that is somewhat intentional, thinking about what we will need if we have the point guard. With Scott, he has other people in this draft he's going to be thinking about. It's a process. 

RE: On is this the most involvement Tepper has had in the process of draft

David Tepper: I just set the process. These guys do the work. You guys have to understand, we were here a year and a half, trying to figure out, I didn't know what the heck I was on the business side. So, you know, for the first year and a half I was trying to figure out what was going on. Then COVID hit. So we're out of the building for two and a half more years. Then we are in the building and had a better chance last year to see what was going on, right, wrong and indifferent. With Scott now together, we just went through the process. We wanted a certain head coach, a certain type of head coach and we wanted the guy who could find the best position coaches we could possibly get. Frank ran a fantastic process for finding these guys. I give Frank credit. I actually complimented Frank today and I don't give out compliments that often. My one compliment this year. Usually it's a compliment and I take it back and give it to someone else. It was a straight up compliment. He went through the process, really, really tirelessly looking for the best person – not the person he knew – but the best person out there and I think it's reflected in the staff that we have. It's a great testament to him. 

RE: On being aggressive on trading up for first pick and why it was important to go to No. 1 instead of No. 2 or No. 3

David Tepper: The way the process worked. I'll tell a little bit about the process. It was basically, Scott is a better one to tell the story because he is really more, I'm on the outside. I don't know if you know this at all, but I know something about numbers and stats and stuff like that in my head. So I can figure out that stuff. A lot of stuff, I have no idea. One of my great strengths and I'm getting stronger at this is knowing how stupid I am sometimes. When we were in there, we had a trade to go up to two. It was a three-way trade with Chicago and we were going to go up to two. The Texans were going to trade up to one. Chicago was going to be down to two and we were going to trade with Chicago. We were waiting. We kind of had that trade kind of arranged on Wednesday. So we waited. You have to appreciate, I come from a world where you have to do trades and I don't love when trades don't happen right away. So I'm driving Scott crazy. I have to apologize to Scott for this by the way. I'm saying 'what's going on with these guys? This doesn't feel right. What's going on?' So Wednesday goes. Thursday goes. We got into Friday and the Texans changed their mind about the trade, about doing the three-way trade. So got into the afternoon, it was Friday afternoon, you know Scott talked to (Chicago General Manager Ryan) Poles and basically he got a value he would accept for us to move up to one. That was late Friday afternoon. Basically, we knew we had to make a decision then because he wanted to get a trade done. We thought that there were other people including the Raiders that had better potential trades on the line. If we waited, they may come and jump us if we waited beyond that day. We knew that we were the bird in hand. They knew they had the trade with us, a trade they could like. We didn't want to go with what we thought might be a better trade than us because we're ninth. You got seventh there that wants to do it and other people that want to do it. So we all decided that this was the right thing to do for the incremental amount. We could trade up. It was a joint decision. Everyone was on board with it I think at the time. We knew if we didn't do it then, we may lose it. So we just made that decision all together, just talking it out, 15-20 minutes Scott called up. He could tell you the rest, I wasn't on the phone. Does that pretty much…?

Scott Fitterer: Yeah, we just called Ryan at that point and we had been working through it and the important part is just the constant communication that we had so that it wouldn't die. Friday, we were both just like, 'hey, what's it going to take?' 'If this isn't going to happen this way, we want to make sure it happens. We want to get to one in order to control this decision.' Ryan was great with it and we made the trade. 

RE: On Tepper's different perspective and the questions he asks in interviews

David Tepper: I don't know if it's that different. I come from a world of analysis and trying to figure out what companies are worth and asking my analysts deep questions. So that's the world I come from. So I just in this process, I put the best that I know. I'm actually not bad at this other thing that I do. I'm better at that than I am at this to tell you the truth. I took some of that world into here. That analytical cool sort of world and try to think of the different sort of factors we want to try to find out beyond what these guys did. Listen, to tell you the truth, it's just one addition. This is a process. Scott and the scouts, listen, that is 90% of the work. 90%. Frank is another 7% or 8% or 9% of the work and I add that last 1%. So just to give the credit where due, the credit is over here (with Fitterer and Reich). This is truly a process. I can't emphasize enough, we are true to this process this time. Not all the time in other past years. But this process and this coach. Process in getting this quarterback and not leaving a stone unturned. This is truly in everything we're doing and everything that we did with the coaches and when Frank was hired. The process of do we have the best person, do we have the best person. True to the process. Scott is true to the process. We're not messing around. I'll say it that way. The work is here, truly.

QB Bryce Young

RE: On David Tepper wanting to go to the Super Bowl and his thoughts on potentially winning one in Carolina

For me, I just want to take things day-by-day. I'm super grateful to have that vote of confidence from Mr. (David) Tepper. That means the world. But for me, again, I want to take things day by day. Once we get there, and I sit down. Once I know what the team goals are. I want to take it day by day and do everything I can to help us accomplish those team goals.

RE: On if he ever thought he wouldn't be the number one overall pick and if he thought his size would impact his standing

I think throughout the entire time, I never knew where I was going. I never tried to measure anything up or tried to figure it out. I know how draft days are. I know anything was possible. I knew coming in the entire time nothing was promised. I didn't really try to keep up with all the things that were going on. I try to focus on controlling what I can control and put my energy into that. Because of that, either way, just being here, wherever it would have been, I'm super grateful that it was here. This is definitely a huge blessing for me to be able to be a part of Carolina and be able to be part of this organization. I think that's what's most important, which I'm really grateful for it. I never really had expectations, but for things to turn out how they did, I'm super thankful for God for it.

RE: On what it was like getting to know Frank Reich, Scott Fitterer and David Tepper

Honestly for me, I was super, super grateful to be in those dinners and to be able to take part of that visit. (It) just was beautiful, because I learned a lot. I was able to hear about their philosophy and hear about their system, about their approach. What they expect from the quarterback position. Things they like, and don't like. For me, I was able to take a lot, even from our short time together. I just tried to be myself. I'm trying to effectively communicate things that happened. How I think, my thoughts and feelings on things. I was super grateful for being able to show that and (hear them) tell me what they expected from me and from the position, what they wanted. I learned a lot. I'm super excited to obviously to have a lot more time now than just one meeting. I'm super excited for what I'm going to be able to learn and the growth that I'm going to be able to have with this coaching staff and this front office staff. 

RE: On David Tepper telling him at the Super Bowl that the Panthers are going to get a quarterback and his response about his "weekly planning process" at the dinner after his pro day

I will say the weekly planning process was a little bit long-winded of an answer.  I'll save everyone from having to sit through that. Just hearing Mr. (David) Tepper, honestly throughout this whole process. I was able to sit down with the front office, with everyone involved. It was very clear that they illustrated that they had a plan for a while, for years in place just to try to build the team. To be able to hear all the wisdom and all the stuff that went into it. Kind of to get that there was such a plan that has been in place for years. I think it really shows, again, the forward thinking and how calculated everyone is there. Just for everyone to be involved, everyone to be bought in. I think it shows just how much it means for everyone, means to the organization. I'm super happy to be part of an organization that feels that way.

RE: On the compensation the Panther traded to obtain the number one pick and what it means to be taken as the first overall pick in the NFL draft

I'm super thankful. It's something that I don't take lightly and don't take for granted. To believe in me is something I'm going to forever be grateful for with this opportunity. I'm excited, I'm focused. I want to do everything that I can to take advantage of that opportunity and help contribute to the franchise.

RE: On how much of a role Nicole Tepper and Kristi Coleman played throughout the process

I think to be able to have them involved just shows the buy-in from everyone in the organization at the very top from the owner all the way down. When they're that involved and that invested, I think it permeates throughout the building and it shows the buy-in.  Having everyone being all hands-on deck for this entire draft process that really means a lot to me.

RE: On the importance of the Panthers evaluating him as a person

Honestly, that was something I really liked a lot was how interested they were in me as a person. I think that shows a lot of how they approach things. For me, to have a coaching staff and front office that, of course, it's watching film and wants to know the X's and O's and he's smart and intelligent and all that stuff too, but also cares about him being a good person and a good fit for the culture. Then them putting thought into that. That was something that was really, really important for me. It was great for me to go through that process because it showed me that it was something that they valued. I just really tried to be honest, express myself, put my best foot forward. Be honest about the experiences I've had and how I view things. Share my philosophies about whatever it may be on and off the field. I was grateful to be so accepted.

RE: On how he handles pressure and his response to David Tepper's Super Bowls comment

I definitely think I'm patient whenever there's a pressure situation. I look at that as an opportunity. It's fun to be in those situations. That's what we all dream of and the moments that we're all excited to be a part of. Whatever the expectations may be, I want to take things day by day. I'm super excited and super blessed for this opportunity and for the organization to take a chance on me. For me, I'm going to take this day by day. I want to make sure that I sit down and learn the goals of the team. Talk with all the staff and everyone who has a hand in what I'm going to be doing leading up to the season and beyond. Make sure that I trust in them and do everything I can to help them to accomplish those goals.

RE: On when he knew for sure when he was going to be the Number 1 overall pick

Really, I knew when I saw that Charlotte area code on my phone after the commissioner had announced that the Panthers were on the clock. I always knew that God would guide me to the right place and wherever I ended up was where I was supposed to be. I didn't know where it was going to be. I didn't have any confirmation. I didn't honestly look too deep into it. I'm super grateful that things played out the way that they did.

RE: On how he handles the questions about his size

I feel like everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I think it's the beauty of sports, everyone's going to have opinions and everyone gets to talk about things. I think it's fair. But for me, I focus on controlling what I can control and putting my energy on what I can do. I know myself, I'm confident in myself. I'm going to put all my energy moving forward into proving myself so that I can help the team and doing everything I can to be the best Carolina Panther I can be.

View photos of Young in the green room and on-stage after he was picked first by the Panthers.

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