1) He’s prepared to be a leader
Matt Paradis was a team captain in Denver, and whether you’re wearing a "C" on your jersey or not, the center position always comes with leadership responsibility.
Head coach Ron Rivera mentioned at the NFL Scouting Combine that Carolina needed a new leader at the position with longtime captain Ryan Kalil now enjoying retirement. Paradis fits the bill.
“The most important thing right off the bat is to show what kind of guy I am and what I bring every day. The rest comes with it,” Paradis said shortly after signing a three-year deal.
“Lead by example. You have to be putting that work in and people have to see that. That’s most important. And holding people accountable the right way – leadership is a balance to bring everyone up to the highest standard.”
2) He’s taken notes on a Carolina great
Speaking of Ryan Kalil, Paradis has long been an admirer of the five-time Pro Bowler’s work.
“A guy that has always done it the right way,” Paradis said of Kalil. “He’s always been one of the main guys that I try to model my game after.”
Paradis spoke of the respect he has for Kalil’s toughness and his ability to battle through a physically demanding 12-year career.
“How long he played – that’s pretty amazing,” Paradis said.
3) He’s proven his toughness
Paradis has only been in the NFL for four seasons, but he’s also played through some pain. He underwent surgery on both hips following the 2016 season.
“That was a problem that had bothered me since college,” he said. “It’s kind of a weird injury and for most guys you just tough it out as long as you can. When I had the surgery, that was as much as I could tough it out.”
Paradis, a starter for the Broncos since 2015, hadn’t missed a single offensive snap until breaking his leg nine games into the 2018 season. He’s still recovering from that injury but is expected to be ready to roll some time in June.
“Timelines are not set in stone,” Paradis said. “All the results have been fantastic. It’s been steady the whole way.”
4) He’s got quite an underdog story
Paradis grew up in Council, Idaho – a town of 800 people – and he played eight-man football in high school. He then walked on at Boise State and became a starter. He wasn’t a highly regarded prospect and wound up being selected by the Broncos in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
So how did he make it with the odds stacked against him?
“It just goes back to my upbringing and how I was raised – the work ethic that you need,” he said. “No matter what was thrown at me I was able to work through it. There are a lot of factors. Some of it is luck, but with hard work I was able to get here.”
5) He’s got some Panthers connections
This is all uncharted territory for Paradis – in more ways than one.
“I came to the realization that I’ve never lived out of the Mountain time zone for any serious amount of time,” he said. “I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about Charlotte.”
Paradis said running back Christian McCaffrey was the first Panther to reach out. They had met previously with McCaffrey being from Colorado.
And before that, former Panthers fullback/tight end Richie Brockel offered a glimpse of what life was like in Carolina.
“A Boise State guy and we worked out together in the offseasons,” Paradis said of Brockel, who last played in 2015. “He always spoke very highly of Carolina. He still loves it here.”
And then there’s former Panthers left tackle Jordan Gross, an Idaho native who was an obvious role model.
“There aren’t a ton of Idaho high school football players, so I was very aware of him,” Paradis said. “I’ve met him a couple times. He’s a great guy and someone a lot of us Idaho guys have looked up to.”
View behind the scenes photos of center Matt Paradis as he signs a contract with the Panthers and visits Bank of America Stadium.