Panthers head coach Frank Reich and general manager Scott Fitterer
Scott Fitterer: I thought overall it was a good weekend for us. We got players who can come in and compete to play right away. Guys that are going to start, guys that are going to offer good depth; no one is promised anything. They just have to come in and earn it. With that, I'll take questions.
RE: Chandler Zavala saying he sent Fitterer a text yesterday
Scott Fitterer: He did. He just sent a text yesterday just checking in to see how things were going. He and Ickey (Ekwonu) are really close. He's a guy that really wanted to be here. He had a really good visit with us. We went back, it's funny, like two years ago, watching tape, where he lines up right next to Ickey, and there were road grading people, and they're good friends. He's physical. He's smart. He's tough. He's everything that we want on the offensive line. Scouts like them, (offensive line) Coach (James) Campen, (assistant offensive line) Coach (Robert) Kugler like him, they have strong conviction on him. He's a guy that everybody wanted here. We just had to figure out the value. And then when we took him, guys from across the league were like, wow, like that's a great pick. You could tell he was someone everyone's trying to keep under the radar, but he was a guy people knew about.
RE: If Zavala was a potential option for the 93rd pick
Scott Fitterer: I'm trying to remember if he's on board. Like you could argue that but I don't remember if he was though at the time. But yeah, I mean, for the role probably would have been there.
RE: What Zavala's selection means for the left guard position and the impact on injured offensive linemen Brady Christensen and Austin Corbett
Frank Reich: Brady's earned the right. One of our strengths is o-line, everybody knows that, so the group that was here last year has done a great job, and Camp (James Campen) and (Robert) Kugler have done a great job with those guys. So listen, it's no secret, everybody knows you need depth at o-line, and you need competition, obviously, and with Corbett's injury and him going to be missing time at the beginning of the year. You know, something Scott and I talked about, we need to find somebody to come in there and compete and find the right mix in the interior. So that'll play itself out, you know, over the next few months and in training camp.
RE: On Brady Christensen and Austin Corbett's timeline for return
Frank Reich: I don't want to go into the exact timeline. You know, Brady should be good. You know, obviously, Austin is going to be into the season a little bit more. So we'll take that. We'll address that as we get closer with that.
RE: If Corbett will miss some time in the regular season
Frank Reich: Yes. He will miss some regular season time.
RE: On upgrading the passing game in free agency and the draft
Scott Fitterer: Yeah, that was a real emphasis going into this offseason, you know, you want to give a young quarterback or Andy Dalton or Matt Corral, plenty of weapons. So they can go out there and operate. And, like I said, we started on defense, we built the offensive line. This year, we want to keep that strength so we reinforced it with Zavala, but having weapons, to keep it open for the running back, for the quarterback, that's really important to us.
Frank Reich: Yeah, just echo what Scott said. We're all talking about Bryce and the kind of point guard distribute the ball type mentality. Listen, in the history of what we've done schematically, you can ask all the skill guys that we've been around, we distribute the ball around, we spread it out, we spread it around, you know, we want to use multiple formations, personnel groups, you can never have enough playmakers. That's a big deal. I'm super excited about our skill room. Really, really excited about our skill room. We added to that what we did in free agency is a big deal. And, of course, we got the quarterback. We want to get the ball and distribute it around, you know, in a way that we think is going to be unique. We think he can become a unique player in this league. So excited about that.
RE: On if Jammie Robinson will play nickel or safety.
Frank Reich: Yeah, I mean first of all he is just a tough competitor. A little bit more in the (Jeremy) Chinn thing. Heavy hitter, in the box a little bit. But listen I don't want to put him into a box just yet. We want to get to know him even more once he gets here. He is the kind of guy, high character, tough, edgy, has an edge to him. Great special teams value. So, find a role. We talk a lot about finding roles for players, then be a star in your role so I think this is the kind of guy who's going to come in and compete and he is going to create a role for himself at some level.
RE: On if there is anything they didn't get in the draft or free agency that they will address over the summer
Scott Fitterer: I think when we mapped it out, we pretty much checked the boxes of what, as we go into this, where are the remaining needs. Now you are trying to balance value and where guys are on the board, but I think we checked most boxes. One thing, we went through an exercise yesterday and we were in Frank's office, and he is putting down names, kind of our target names and we were able to get those names that we wanted. We feel really good about where we're at heading into the season. And the roster is never set, and we will go throughout the spring, but after the draft we like where we are at.
RE: On if finishing the Draft early helps get a head start on analyzing undrafted players
Scott Fitterer: It helps with the organization of it. We are going to pull the coaches in the room. The scouts will be in there. We know the numbers that we need to add at each spot to fill out our 90-man roster. We are probably not going to fill out all the way to 90. If there is not a player that we think is a quality guy for 90 we'll hold off. There's other opportunities. But for the most part we think there is a lot of depth still on our draft board in that sixth and seventh round and into free agency. Guys always fall through. Like I said yesterday there's a lot of guys in free agency that make teams. So, this is a really important time for us.
RE: On how Brian Burn's injury will impact contract negotiations with him
Scott Fitterer: I don't see that. We'll get into it. Burns is going to be here. He's one of our leaders and we'll work through it with his agent.
RE: On their feeling about swing tackle at the moment
Scott Fitterer: Well, we have options so like we can go out, there are veterans on the street. We'll get into free agency here, we still have a couple of linemen on our board, and we'll see how that goes. And the thing is there's always the 53-man cut. There's other opportunities. There are players in the XFL. We will look at every opportunity.
RE: On when they hope to finalize Brian Burns contract
Scott Fitterer: There's no timeline. We'll just start talks. I'll reach out to his agent, and we'll have those talks at some point.
RE: On if decision has been made about exercising Derrick Brown and CJ Henderson fifth-year options
Scott Fitterer: I think we're going to talk about that. We should know here; you'll probably hear Monday morning is my guess. I want to talk to the players first. I think it's important for it to be communicated with them first before I say anything.
RE: On the potential to get back into the draft so there is no negotiating players they would like as undrafted free agents
Scott Fitterer: Honestly, I don't want to give up any more picks right now. If there's someone that's just standing there, we will talk about it. But, I think we're set to get into free agency at this point. I do want to keep you guys here later though so maybe.
RE: On Reich feels about the team after the draft
Frank Reich: Feel good, really in all three phases. It was really important to continue to build the foundation. Get O-Line depth, which we addressed both in free agency and in the draft. Get the skill players, we've already talked about that. Defensively too, we did the same thing, both adding in free agency and in the draft and being very selective about the kind of players that we are looking for. As Scott mentioned, the roster is always continuing to be built. It's never done. So that work is never done. Where we are in the process right now, feel really good. It was especially good to see the guys out on the field last week as that first brush. And then we get the rookie minicamp coming up, get a look at these guys on the field and so yeah. It's everyday kind of fills in the pieces in your mind of what we're looking for.
RE: On confidence level of having a starter on the roster opposite Brian Burns
Frank Reich: Yes. Yes, we are. Very confident in that. Think it'll be competitive, right? That's what we want to do. We want to create competition at every spot. Nothing's given. When you're a new staff that is something that is a luxury that you are afforded even more than normal. Everybody knows that we are all on notice. Everybody knows that this is a fresh start for everybody. I think you play off of that excitement. You open it up to compete for that spot and that is what we will do.
RE: On what Reich learned from his experience with the Panthers in 1995 when the team was a building a roster from scratch
Frank Reich: Yeah, really, I think it's what I just said. It's the idea of a fresh start. And I think players know, players are so smart, they understand that you get a new coaching staff in, there's been turnover, this is kind of like a new lease on life for everybody. And we're just going to make it competitive at every position and it's the NFL, that's the way it has to be done.
RE: On how much Bryce Young has been in contact since leaving the building yesterday
Frank Reich: Just a little bit. Just touched base with him today just a little but continue to be excited about that and we'll get him ramped up here quickly.
RE: On if the team would consider addressing the edge position with veteran free agents
Scott Fitterer: Yeah, I think we always explore the market out there. It's got to make sense for us. Got to make sense for them. Whoever it maybe we'll always just monitor.
RE: On best scout or coach reaction to pick throughout the draft
Scott Fitterer: Probably (James) Campen. I'd love to play poker with him. He can't hide his emotions. I think he was really excited today to get (Chandler) Zavala. He loves those guys. He loves that group. Takes a lot of pride in them. The personalities, how they mesh in there, to add someone like Zavala he was really excited.
RE: On perception of taking 6-year college players and impact of their age due to COVID
Scott Fitterer: There's guys on the board that were older than some of the guys we had on our team right now. So it's unique. There's two ways to look at it. Their bodies have had a chance to mature. Maybe they had more reps in college because they get that extra year. I think it's just kind of one of those unique years that way. I see it correcting over the next couple of years. But yeah, it was wild, you're like this guy is 24, this guy is 25? We ran into that a few times.
RE: On message to Matt Corral
Scott Fitterer: Yeah, it's a fresh start for him. Like, Coach (Frank Reich) said, he's got new opportunity with a new staff. They haven't seen him before. He came in bigger and heavier. Nothing's promised to anyone. We talked about Andy (Dalton) yesterday is the starter right now. But all he can do right now is control what he can control. Just go out there and compete. Just make the plays and we'll see where it goes.
RE: On Reich's relationship and being linked with Bryce Young due to drafting him first overall
Frank Reich: I do think it's the reality. I think we tend to think this is a collaborative thing. You understand head coach, quarterback is a unique connection, the fact that I played the position, an offensive guy. So yeah, I embrace that. That's kind of fun. In fact, I mentioned that to Bryce yesterday, that our relationship as head coach and quarterback has to be strong. Now I feel that way with all the players. And then plus playcaller-quarterback so that is another element of it. So want to develop that relationship and to be as strong as it can and certainly the success, whatever happens in the coming years, we're all linked together on that. Scott and I at the front of that as GM and head coach, but obviously quarterback being a big part of that. It's a big deal. Embrace that challenge and look forward to that and excited about that.
RE: On any interesting reactions from peers in the NFL after the Bryce Young pick became official
Scott Fitterer: I think everybody knew at that point. Everybody loved him. There's only one question but everybody loved the guy. Just the person. The make up. The competitor. No one said anything. It was all positive.
Guard Chandler Zavala
RE: On playing with Ikem Ekwonu at NC State
Playing next to Ickey was really fun. We both learned a lot from each other. And we just got along, just playing well with each other and excited to be a Carolina Panther and just get things going day by day.
RE: On his collegiate journey and the transition from Fairmont State to NC State
I just take everything day by day because I've just played six years of football. So, I just take everything in at the moment, just absorb everything that I can and just get better as a man and as a player. Become a great teammate and be respectful to my coaches and teammates and just get better overall as a team.
RE: On the biggest thing he learned going from Fairmont State to NC State
It wasn't a big thing just learning, but just keeping the same routine, and it was a smooth transition when I went from Fairmont to NC State.
RE: On what his role with the Panthers will be
I'm just ready to get in to Carolina and just take it day by day. Getting there and in camp, and just do what I do and just work and just work and show everybody what I can do and just keep rolling.
RE: On if he has any good Ikem Ekwonu stories
No sir I don't. He is a great man, and he is a great player. He is a great teammate.
RE: On the role his dad's cooking played into his football success
Coming out of high school, I wasn't a big dude. So, I had to put on a lot of weight. So, my Mom and Dad cooked for me, and then there was a time where my dad just sent me like 25 pounds of beef just to help me put on weight from his producer. So it was kind of nice, and he always made sure I had food and enough food to eat so I can get bigger.
RE: On how old he was when he received the meat from his dad
That was in college. That was my first year. My freshman year in college.
RE: On dealing with injury adversity at Fairmont State
Just for me, a big thing was having a routine. And in the summer, I found my routine and just kept it every day, every week, and every month. It was really good for me. It was good work for my body. The plan it to just keep doing my same routine, and if anything else helps, I'll do that also. I'll do anything just to keep doing it and be a great player.
RE: On where he is watching the draft
I am actually in Pittsburgh with my girlfriend and my family came up.
RE: On how the meat arrived
Yes sir. Dry Ice.
RE: On if his Dad told him he was sending meat and what it cuts of meat it was
It was prime rib cut, so you can break a prime rib, and you get rib eyes out of it and everything. So I just cut all the fat down, trimmed it down, and just made my own cuts and put them in the freezer for like days and weeks.
RE: On where he was staying when he received the meat
It was like an apartment slash dorm that I was staying at.
RE: On what was on the menu for the draft party
We kind of took a break. We just brought in just some tacos in for today. He cooked yesterday and other days so gave the old man a break.
RE: On how long it took him to get through all of the meat his dad sent him
Not that long because I had to eat a lot of food. Just came out of high school at like 260 so I just probably ate it like four times a day.
RE: On how much weight he gained while eating the meat
RE: On if he learned anything about cooking from his dad
Just what not to eat and what is good to eat. At restaurants there is good stuff but there is also stuff that is bad but tastes good, so I don't eat that.
RE: On his favorite meal
I am more of like a red meat guy. Like a steak. Just keep it simple.
RE: On his playing style
I am a great pass protector. This year I showed that I am a great pass protector this year. And then my running ability. I have a great lateral movement. And then I can also be a mauler when needed.
RE: On his family's heritage
Yeah, my dad is Cuban, and my great-grandmother was Cuban.
RE: On if he grew up speaking Spanish
No, he (Dad) speaks it but he didn't teach me.
RE: On what blocking scheme he is most comfortable with
That is a really good question. I feel like I do great in both. I have played in both and every offense I have played in we have done a little bit of both, and I excelled. So just really excited to get to know the Panthers playbook and see what they have in store.
RE: On if he is comfortable with zone and power schemes
Yeah. Power. Zone. I am comfortable with both.
RE: On competing with former NC State linemen Ikem Ekwonu in the maple syrup 'pancake' competition while in school together
Yeah, I did. I was rolling for a while. Even when we were playing with each other we were kind of close for a little bit then he kind of took off on me. Because I missed that 2021 season a little bit. And then this year, it was really competitive this year. It was fun. Everyone was pretty even this year.
RE: On what brand of maple syrup was given out
I don't know. It was all different brands. Coach Garrison would just buy syrup bottles or Coach D. It doesn't matter. They would just buy a syrup bottle.
RE: On what caused his back injury
I don't know. They said it just happened. Because that was my first and only surgery ever. And hopefully it will be the last. I don't know it just happened out of the blue, so everything has been fine after that.
RE: On what it feels like to be a part of a draft class with the #1 overall pick
I am just blessed and grateful to be a part of this. Just the journey I have been through. I am just thankful that Coach Reich and Coach Campen and the GM decided to choose me and bring me to the Carolina Panthers organization. I am just very grateful.
RE: On if he knows Bryce Young
No, I do not.
RE: On if the knee injury at Fairmount State was related to his surgery
RE: On what he has learned about Coach Campen in the draft process
He is a really great coach. Great man. And he is going to get the best out of you, and he wants the best for you and the team and the organization. So, it is going to be really fun, and I am really excited to get going.
Safety Jammie Robinson
RE: On which position he's most comfortable at
Jammie Robinson: I'm a team guy, so it's been playing in different situations where guys get hurt and I'll have to go down on like a Wednesday practice and be down there and compete at the nickel position. Honestly, I'm a team guy and I don't care what position I'm playing as long as I'm on the field out there making plays for my team and just helping the team get wins. That's what I'm about.
RE: On how he values special teams
Jammie Robinson: Of course. That's the main thing I feel like when it comes to just the game. Special teams, they change how the game turns out. I remember plenty of plays in college, like when we played against Clemson, the guy had a big return for like 40 yards in the second half, and that turned the whole game around. I always feel like the best guys should be playing special teams just because that's how the game goes. The best guys should be on special teams because those are the crucial moments. Anything can happen on special teams.
RE: On wearing a Panthers beanie during his interview
Jammie Robinson: It's so crazy. We've got an AirBnB out here in Atlanta, and our neighbors are Carolina Panthers fans. When the pick got called in, they came outside next door and were yelling, and they brought a hat over here for me.
RE: On teaming up with Brian Burns, who also went to Florida State
Jammie Robinson: The reason I know about him is because when I got to Florida State, I was only there two years, but you know when the games are going and it shows highlights of NFL players on Sundays from like the past week? I always saw him on there getting a sack and crazy stuff. He's always making plays. That's mainly how I know about him. I did some research, so I knew he's a great player, getting a sack every game and stuff. That's a dog. I know that's a guy I can look to the right and to the left and know he's going to do his job and he's going to get it done. That's what it's all about – just being able to trust in guys. I know for sure that he's a guy you can trust. He makes plays. Every week when I was playing a game at Doak Campbell, they would show his highlights up there and he was making a sack almost every week. That's how I definitely caught on to Brian Burns for sure.
RE: On if he's played against Bryce Young
Jammie Robinson: No sir, I haven't. No sir, no sir. But come on man, that's the number one pick. That solidifies everything – number one pick. I know he's going to be out there ready to compete, and I'm right behind him.
RE: On playing with Jaycee Horn and returning to the Carolinas
Jammie Robinson: Jaycee called me as soon as I got off the phone. I've been knowing bro, and we've been locked in since I was a senior in high school. I was coming on visits and he was hosting me. It's just all crazy how the world is and we're back on the same team. I already know when I get there he's going to put me on beat – what it is, what it ain't, what I need to do, just learning the playbook and stuff like that. That's another guy I can say I was on the field with him when I was a freshman, and he was a year ahead of me. He was out there making calls and making checks, and I was out there with him doing the same thing, competing with him. I already know he's a dog, and I'm a dog for sure, too, so we're going to definitely click up together. We're going to turn it up down there, for sure.
RE: On off the field stories he has with Jaycee Horn
Jammie Robinson: Jaycee is a game freak. Jaycee's a game freak, so he always used to beat me in the game. That's one thing I hate, he always beat me in the game. I'm a game freak myself, and he's a guy who don't party and stuff, and we were always in the dorms, we stayed in the dorms like right next door, right across the hall from each other, so we were always on the game, watching film and just hanging out, football stuff. I'm the type of guy that didn't party, and he's the type of guy who didn't party a lot either, so it was always strictly business, honestly. That's the type of guy I am, too, and he's the same way – strictly business, ball. We hop on the game and kick it like that, for sure
RE: On what games did you guys play
Jammie Robinson: 2K and Madden, those two games for sure.
RE: On what play was made in his career that best summarizes who he is
Jammie Robinson: Miami, what I did to the quarterback. When I just threw him down. I feel like, like I have been upset since yesterday I ain't going to lie to you. I have been upset about just this whole thing, but I know this pick is going to be the best pick in the draft. Carolina Panthers, ya'll know I am going to come in and compete for a spot, and I am just going to be a team guy at the end of the day also. I know it's not 144 guys better than me, but I mean, it is what it is. The chips done fell and I got that chip on my shoulder too so. Hey, I'm just ready to work. Like I said, I feel like the play from Miami for sure symbolizes me just showing that I am a dog. I'm probably not the biggest on the field. But aye, I'm a dog.
RE: On what he is doing in Atlanta
Jammie Robinson: I got my fam out here. We just got an Airbnb. We just watching the draft out here.
RE: On if he went to the Taylor Swift Concert
Jammie Robinson: Nah, I might go to one tonight though for sure.
RE: On what he knows about the Carolina Panthers and what is like being a part of that
Jammie Robinson: Well, I know Jeremy (Chinn). You know Jaycee. But I am not even going to lie to you, I am a college player. So when I was in college, I never really watch the NFL a lot. I watched it a little bit, but I am not too familiar with a lot of guys, but I know that I am going to a new team and I know that I am a brother at the end of the day. So I'm just ready to get know everyone, just be able to help and receive the help and receive all the feedback that all my teammates got for me, you know what I'm saying? I know everyone is going to be a professional and all, so I am going to handle my business like a professional and I'm going to get to know my brothers and we are going to go out there and go to work with each other, and just get some wins for sure. Bring all the wins back to Carolina.
RE: On emotions the past couple days, watching guys who he may have felt like he was better than get picked before him
Jammie Robinson: Well, I know that I was better than a lot of guys that got picked. But honestly, you know, I can't control that. I can't control what happened. All I can control is the next chapter. You know, the next chapter is about to be a great ride for me and my family, you know, and the fans as well, because I plan on being in Carolina for my whole career. Like, Carolina is not a bad place at all. I'm from South Georgia. You know, Carolina is probably like a two-hour flight, something like that, not even that probably. I was just at South Carolina as well. And I feel like I'm going to be there for a minute. Just like I was saying, you know, I felt salty, not salty, but I've been hurt because, you know, I had expectations. The draft, there's no one who knows what's going to happen. So it was all just like, you know, you had your nerves up just sitting there waiting on your phone to ring and not knowing if it's going to ring or when it's going to ring. So, you know, but aye, I'm just ready to work. I got a lot to show. That all I can say.
RE: On emotions he felt when the call finally came through
Jammie Robinson: I didn't cry. I didn't cry, like I did yesterday. Yesterday, I cried because I didn't get picked. Today, it's just like, yeah it's that time. It's that time for sure.
RE: On if he has heard from anyone on the team, besides the draft, any of the players
Jammie Robinson: Jaycee. Jaycee just called me. He called me as soon as I got off the phone, like soon as I got off the phone he called me. Like I said though, I know he a dog. And you know Shi Smith there, too. Like, that's a guy that when I was in South Carolina as a freshman, he was torturing me, you feel me? Every day in practice man. He made me step my game up honestly. I know he there so I'm ready to reunite with them boys. Yeah, we didn't win as much when we were in South Carolina, but for sure in the big leagues we gone get some wins.
RE: On what did Jaycee (Horn) say to him
Jammie Robinson: He just like, you ready to work? It's that time, it's simple. He knew what type of guy I am. Just like him, I am a competitor. I love to compete. So, he just told me it's that time bro. It's time to get to it.
RE: On reaction Thursday night, when Bryce (Young) went first
Jammie Robinson: I knew that was going to happen. I knew he was going to be the first pick. He's a great quarterback, great leader, great guy. I mean, the winning speaks for itself when he was at Alabama. You know, he's not the biggest. But guess what? He's a dog, you know what I'm saying? If you're a dog, the dogs will last. That's all I know. The dogs gone last. I haven't had any injuries in college. You know, I'm healthy. I'm ready to go. Like, I'm ready to go and I know for sure I've got a lot in store. I got a lot in store. This is a dream come true for me. I'm ready to get started, man. Just keep pounding, man. I'm just ready to keep pounding.