MOBILE, Ala – Dave Gettleman's first days on the job as Panthers general manager have been packed with excitement.
They've also been packed with things to do.
"It's been hectic to say the least," Gettleman said. "As soon as you walk in the door, you've got a line outside of people that want to know where they fit and how it's all going to work."
Gettleman's current focus is on the Senior Bowl, where he is watching practice with members of the Panthers coaching staff and front office.
It's a significant event on the scouting calendar, but Gettleman insists it's "just a piece of the puzzle."
"The way I was raised, a college all-star game can only help a player, it can't hurt him," Gettleman said. "You have to be very careful. If you come here and a highly-ranked player has a bad week, you can't kill him based on that. It's a nine-month scouting process. You have to take your time and weigh everything."
And everyone involved in the drafting process has to be on the same page.
"We have to make sure we all have the same vision," head coach Ron Rivera said. "We have to understand what we're all looking for, what characteristics we're looking for in football players and which football players will fit us the best."
Added Gettleman, "The most important thing is how the player fits with what you want to do. If you a draft a guy that doesn't fit what you're going to do, it's not going to work."
Rivera and Gettleman are still just getting to know one another, but early conversations regarding personnel have left Rivera impressed.
"You listen to (Dave) talk about what he's seen in terms of talent and what his philosophy is in terms of finding talent, and I'm excited about it," Rivera said. "So far it's been a very good working relationship. I know there will be situations where we are going to disagree, but it's important to have those discussions."
For Gettleman, these initial days on the job and the staff meetings at the Senior Bowl are all about having honest conversation to build trust.
"You have to be comfortable and trust each other so there are open lines of communication and people are not afraid to take criticism or accept it," Gettleman said. "And that's all of us."
In addition to deliberating personnel, the Panthers brass is also using time in Mobile to help fill out the coaching staff.
Carolina still must hire a handful of assistant coaches, and Senior Bowl practices offer an opportunity to converse with potential candidates.
"It's a big week for us as far as the staff is concerned," Rivera said. "We promoted a couple guys, and we're still interviewing guys for positions. There's a lot of work to be done, not just looking at football players but looking at guys that could potentially be on our coaching staff."
Gettleman hopes the newcomers – both draftees and assistant coaches – help enhance the pieces in place.
"There are pieces here that are very critical to building a championship team, there's no doubt about it," Gettleman said. "We just have to fill in the gaps."