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Carolina Panthers

2023 Draft Day 2 Transcripts

Panthers head coach Frank Reich and general manager Scott Fitterer

RE: On several other teams trading up in round 2
Scott Fitterer: It's hard when you don't have a lot of picks to start with. You have to kind of pick and choose your spot. We were fortunate to get (Jonathan) Mingo. It kind of fell how we thought it would fall. The first pick all the way down to 39. It went clean off the board. When you really look at it, there was like a run. Pass rushers went, and you get in that third round, If you don't go up and get a pass rusher at that point, there's really not much left. We're looking at the board now and you can argue it both ways. But I think we did the right thing based on our board, based on our team. We went up and were aggressive and did that.

RE: On what they liked about Jonathan Mingo
Frank Reich: Size, speed, elite ball skills. Good scheme fit for us. Will be physical in the run game. Really checks a lot of boxes for us in a lot of ways.

RE: On why they traded up for DJ Johnson
Scott Fitterer: Like I said, he was one of the last pass rushers on the board. You never want to force a need. But this is a 6'4" 260-pound guy that ran 4-4. He's got rare traits. With our staff and the conviction that EJ (Ejiro Evero) and Dom (Capers) and our coaching staff had with him, the way our scouts felt about him. There's a ton of development with him. His upside is huge. He's a guy that's played tight end, he's played defensive end. Once he settles in and gets the coaching, this guy could be a force off the edge. I think his best ball is in front of him.

RE: On DJ Johnson's test numbers and if he may be a better fit at outside linebacker
Frank Reich: There's a couple different styles of outside linebackers in our system. Ideally, you do have the size where you need to set a hard edge, stop the run. Then as far as rushing the passer, I just said there's the bend rush then there's speed to power. There's a lot of different ways to affect the quarterback. Ideally, we talk about it on our defense. We're looking for four guys. So you got one through four. You can have different types of guys. Obviously, (Brian) Burns is number one. He's the speed guy. We really see DJ (Johnson) as kind of a power guy. Then as Scott (Fitterer) said, continue to develop him into a more complete player.

RE: On if they viewed the receiver position as a "need" or did you feel like you had to force it like you did with DJ Johnson
Scott Fitterer: No because you have to look long-term when you're building this. There's one thing about talent evaluation and roster building. Then there's also just value. He was one of our highest-rated players on our board. He's a great talent. All that came together. He was a guy that, when Frank (Reich) and I sat in there with Dan (Morgan) and our staff this morning, kind of pointed him out as a guy that we're going to target here at 39. Like I said, it went clean off the board. We were fortunate he was there. He was kind of the guy we were shooting for.

RE: On if they have a cool story about DJ Johnson or Jonathan Mingo
Frank Reich: I will say this with (Jonathan) Mingo, we had a really good visit with him when he came in. In fact,I was talking to coach (Shawn) Jefferson about that. I was not in the one particular meeting with Coach Jefferson when he was one on one with him. Apparently from talking with him today, a super dynamic meeting. There was a genuine bond and connection between the two of them. I think very excited to work together.

RE: On what stood out to them about Bryce Young when he was in the stadium today
Frank Reich: I'll say this. I'm not sure about with Scott (Fitterer.) With me, I didn't get to see much of the fan fair stuff because we were working as Scott said. Kind of after some of that stuff before he left at the end of the day, kind of came in. All the work was done. All the fan fair was over. He was just in Panther gear. Just kind of relaxed and kicked back in my office for a half hour just talking a little football. Talking a little bit about a vision for the offense, a vision for this team. Really catching him up a little bit just on some of those things. Just talking back and forth. It was pretty cool.

RE: On Bryce Young saying that he has to go earn it and what that says about him

Frank Reich: He's a class act. That's what you want. That's one of the things that made him such an attractive pick to us. He will go out and earn it. He's done that his whole life. He understands that's just the next step.

Scott Fitterer: I thought one of the cool things that he talked about today, he talked a little bit and kind of acknowledged last night, it was fun. But today was more about, okay, getting ready. He's turning the page now. We talked a little bit about minicamp coming up. Coach talked to him about getting him with the playbook. He's business now and you can tell that with him. That's kind of the cool part about this guy. 

RE: On if Jonathan Mingo is a good fit with Bryce Young

Scott Fitterer:  Yeah, like the size itself. The long speed. He has got tremendous ball skills and he is a really strong guy. Strong after the catch. He is strong on the ball. He is going to be a really nice fit with him.  

RE: On how the staff can support Bryce Young

Frank Reich: There is no doubt. In the quarterback room there is a lot of power that goes into that room. A lot of work that goes into that room. Really the main voices in that room are Thomas Brown, our offensive coordinator, will be Josh [McCown] and myself. There are other people in the room, Parks Frazier will be in the room as our pass game coordinator. Jim Caldwell will be involved. Really what we do is kind of divide and conquer. Everybody gets kind of assignments on the work that needs to be done to help prepare the quarterback and really help prepare our offense. But then we try to streamline the communication. So, it is kind of a process we have done for a long time. It's been kind of vetted and we feel good about how we do that. You don't want too many voices. Too many cooks in the kitchen as they say. So, we are pretty much like most staffs. We split up the work but then consolidate it all and then all kind of goes through Thomas as the coordinator, myself and Josh as the quarterback coach. 

RE: On if Jonathan Mingo was the wide receiver they referenced having a good meeting with

Scott Fitterer: We had a great meeting. It was. He was the guy that, he came into the office, Dan Morgan and I sat in there. He just kind of has a vibe about him. A toughness and he is all about ball. He has got a little country to him. Totally different than I thought. But that was the guy. I thought he was really cool.

RE: On what Jonathan Mingo brings to the team from a creativity perspective

Frank Reich:  Yeah, you can move him around. We put all of our pass game into kind of different families. We just, as I said earlier, we just see him as a really good scheme fit. We run a lot of shallows, crosses, we want to get the ball vertical. He has been very effective there. And the thing about a guy, like Scott said, when a guy has elite ball skills and you've got a super accurate passer like we do, that is just a really good combination. Just get it near him. He has got strong hands to the ball and he will be a great target for Bryce. 

RE: On if their traits are more impressive than their college production

Scott Fitterer:  I would say with DJ, when you look at it, that is the first thing that pops up is what is on paper, but then when you watch when he just knows what he is doing, when he's getting off the ball, he has got some power to him which is different. A lot of guys have speed and they may not have the power to do that, but he has got that ability to long arm. We are going to work with him, teach some technique but he has got some knock back and he is not just like a one trick pony. 

RE: On if physical traits play into picking a player over someone else

Scott Fitterer:  It is a balance, it is case by case. When we do take those traits guys you believe that we have the right coaching staff. We have a really good coaches on this staff and you have to look at the background of these guys. Are they someone that has been in the position for three or four years. Are they twenty-one years old and it was a position switch. There is a lot of different factors so it is case by case, but you trust that they have the traits and in our program with our coaches that they will develop them and will play them the right way.  

RE: On how he weighed DJ Johnson's altercation with a fan

Scott Fitterer:  We are aware of that and we talked to him about it. Our scouts do a great job of getting to know these guys and vetting them and working through it. We think he has grown from it. There was remorse and I think he has grown from it. 

RE: On the plan for tomorrow and potentially acquiring more picks

Scott Fitterer: I think it is fluid. It depends on how it falls. If there are players there on the board maybe you move back a few spots. I don't know if we will move forward but just the way our board lays out, we have plenty of options right now. There are still some good players out there.

RE: On the readiness of the roster

Frank Reich: We have done a lot of work, a lot of really good work. It started in free agency. Talking about obviously drafting Mingo, but before that signing the receivers that we signed, Miles Sanders, Hayden Hurst. That's why getting Mingo today was incredible because we already felt good about this room. I mean we just had three weeks with these guys, and it's been dynamic. Then last week we got on the field, and I look at that receivers room, it's great, but you can never have enough play makers. When you have a quarterback like we have, you want to give him options and we move guys around, we spread the ball around. I am excited to get all of these guys involved. We did all this work, Scott did an amazing job in free agency and now in the draft, we just have to finish this up with a strong day tomorrow. But everybody is going to have to earn it, even Mingo, he's going to have to earn it. He's not just going to be anointed to go in there and step right on the field. He's going to have to earn his spot as well.

RE: On Bryce Young wanting to get to work
Frank Reich: I think that's a good description. I think he's a pro and he's an extremely good communicator but listen this guy has been on a mission his whole life to become the player that he is and wants to still get better and become. But in this business, as he has learned, because he has always been at the highest level, it's part of it, you have to play that role. There is something you have to do there, you have to embrace that without burning too much energy, but he is a very focused individual. I could tell today at the end of the day when all of that stuff was done, man he opened up even in a different way and that was cool to see. So, it was fun.

RE: On considering tight ends and offensive linemen at the 39th pick.
Scott Fitterer: I don't know if I actually told him that, maybe he got that from the scouts or wherever. He is a guy that we obviously liked quite a bit. We had some options in there at different positions but in the end, like we said, he was one of the guys we were targeting going into the day and it felt just right for us.

RE: On Scott Fitterer's philosophy on undrafted free agency
Scott Fitterer: I think it is really important. There are different ways to do it. As you know every year there are guys that fall through the draft that make 53-man rosters that become good players. So, we have different strategies of how we are going to sign these guys. Maybe if they are on the board, maybe we'll guarantee some P5, maybe higher signing bonuses, different things. Our scouts do a tremendous amount of work on these guys, and it is a day that we trust them to do their job and highlight the guys that we are going to go after. We will get the numbers from the coaches, how many tight ends do we need, how many linemen do we need. We'll fill those in, because roster wise, we are little but low right now. There are going to be some good players that fall through the draft, there always are, so it is a big day for the scouts.

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