CHARLOTTE – The Panthers moved up in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft to inject some youth into an accomplished but aging defensive end group.
But if you think Texas A&M product Daeshon Hall is here to simply soak in information from the veterans from the sideline, think again.
"Our philosophy is this: If we draft them, we expect them to be in a position to contribute," defensive line coach Eric Washington said. "Now the role will work itself out, but we are working with them to get them ready to play against San Francisco."
When the Panthers open the regular season at the 49ers, it is Washington's intent that Hall be up to speed on everything the position entails. That's the same mindset Hall is embracing, an effort that began in earnest at Carolina's annual rookie minicamp this past weekend.
"I'm getting in the swing of things, learning a new playbook, a new language for the game, but overall it went well," Hall said. "I think I showed that I can retain things, that I'm a smart player and it doesn't take me long to learn."
Hall added that he feels like Washington is "looking for me to play in the game against the 49ers," and that's exactly the approach that Washington wants Hall and all his defensive linemen to take. That doesn't mean Hall will have a prominent role in the opener, but he needs to be capable of taking on a prominent role if called upon - even among a position group featuring the top two sacks artists in franchise history (Julius Peppers and Charles Johnson) and last year's sack leader (Mario Addison).
Hall has some of those qualities but, of course, has a ways to go.
"With every rookie, it's the same thing: the position fundamentals related to what we do," Washington said. "These guys are transitioning not only from different schemes, different systems, but college football is kind of a distant cousin to professional football.
"In the pros, they have to be great point-of-attack run defenders, and they have to be able to rush the quarterback in all situations. It's all about position fundamentals."
Washington also agreed with Hall's self-assessment after the draft that he needs to get stronger physically, but Washington isn't sweating it.
"'House' will take care of that – Joe Kenn will take care of that," Washington said, referencing Carolina's strength and conditioning coach. "I have great confidence in the development he'll make with Joe Kenn and his staff, but out here it's strictly how to play defensive end in our defense."
Washington got his latest chance to get his hands on Hall over the two days of rookie minicamp at the practice fields adjacent to Bank of America Stadium. Leading up to the draft, Washington met with Hall at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine, and he traveled to College Station, Texas, and put Hall through a private workout.
Hall can't participate in the offseason workout program this week per NFL rules but is eligible to return with the other rookies (minus Christian McCaffrey) next week and when the Panthers kick off Organized Team Activities on May 23.
He'll look to pick up where he left off.
"He's what we thought he was – and more," Washington said. "Good speed, good length, and he's learning rapidly. He made a lot of progress between the first and second practice.
"He plays hard. He's a guy who can play a lot of snaps and still maintain a certain level of production. We see the potential for him to be a pretty productive pass rusher."
View photos of the players in action during the second day of rookie minicamp.