On the morning of his first draft as Panthers head coach, Matt Rhule said everything is still on the table for Carolina in the first round.
"Oh yeah, and that's just a mindset that we always have. I mean, if the right person is there for us, then we'll take them. But if someone offers us something to get more picks, then we'll certainly look at that as well," Rhule said Thursday morning in an interview with team reporter Kristen Balboni. "And I know (general manager) Marty (Hurney), he's a veteran of this. He's done a lot of this. And I think we'll look at any and every way that we can to improve our team."
While the Panthers will have numerous options at No. 7, Rhule said overall he'd like to significantly add to Carolina's defense over the draft's seven rounds. But more than that, the club is looking for great athletes who can help Rhule establish the culture he's hoping to build.
"We want to be a team that people can be proud of, they can be excited about — not just the final score, but the way we play and the way that we do things," Rhule said. "So we're looking for tough, hard-working, competitive guys that just want to win. And as you go through this draft process, I've met a lot of them. And I hope we're able to get a few."
With his home office draft room set up and ready, Rhule said he's feeling very comfortable with the technology that will be used for communication throughout the weekend.
"I think all of us all across the country over the last month or so have adjusted to this new normal that we have right now," Rhule said. "And at the end of the day, all that really matters is the name that we put in — the young person that we bring in to be a Carolina Panther."
While being at home for the draft will be different for everyone, Rhule does see a silver lining. He said he's planning on putting his younger daughters Vivienne and Leona to bed early on in the first round. But for his wife Julie and their 15-year-old son Bryant, this is a unique opportunity for the head coach to share his work with his family.
"It's probably the only time they'll ever have a chance to be this close to this, and be in the draft room, and be in the war room," Rhule said. "So I think for all of us, where we can see things that are different, that we're uncomfortable with, you can also find opportunities — and this is a great opportunity to do the draft in a different way and find the positives in that."