CHARLOTTE – The Panthers’ decision to select quarterback Will Grier in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who follows this team.
And it shouldn’t come as a shock to Cam Newton.
General manager Marty Hurney and head coach Ron Rivera have openly expressed their desire to draft and groom a quarterback to provide depth, especially after Newton’s shoulder issues put the team in a bind last season.
“Cam Newton is our franchise quarterback,” Hurney said. “This is about developing a young guy and improving depth at the most important position.”
And Grier was a clear target throughout the pre-draft process. Carolina scouted the Charlotte native closely, with offensive coordinator Norv Turner and quarterbacks coach Scott Turner joining Hurney for a trip to West Virginia to dine with Grier before watching him perform at pro day.
They all liked what they saw.
“We like Will,” Hurney said. “I think he’s got plenty of arm strength just to start off. His arm strength is not an issue, he’s a timing passer I think he’s got an 'it' factor that you see, and you see being around his teammates, and you can see it at the pro day, and you can just see it on tape. I think that he’s a very talented quarterback who we had the chance to get with the 100th pick in the draft, so we decided to make the choice.”
Many of the questions directed at Hurney and Rivera were about Newton, but Hurney reiterated his earlier declaration that Newton is Carolina’s unquestioned franchise quarterback.
With how physically demanding this game is, the Panthers needed a stronger insurance plan behind their soon-to-be 30-year-old quarterback. Last year’s 1-7 slide to close the season with Newton ailing was evidence of that.
As Rivera pointed out, the Philadelphia Eagles benefited greatly from having a quality signal-caller in Nick Foles on the roster behind Carson Wentz.
And Hurney subscribes to the theory that it's always wise to have talented young arms in the pipeline.
Turns out they were able find one in their own backyard.
“(Former Packers GM) Ron Wolf had a philosophy that you take a quarterback in every draft if you find one that fits in a certain round because of the value of the position and the fact it does take time to grow those guys,” Hurney said. “If you develop those guys and they are players then they’re going to help you in different ways but they’re going to help you down the road. So I think that Ron’s right.
“We’ve had a lot of discussions about it, but the philosophy is that any time you can get young guys and bring them in and develop them at that position, I think that’s the right way to go.”