Notes: Projecting prospects' readiness


CHARLOTTE – At the Panthers' pre-draft press conference on Tuesday, general manager Dave Gettleman offered his well-informed take on two popular, draft-related beliefs.

The first: it takes more time for wide receivers to make an impact.

"History tells you that it's a very difficult position to assimilate into, especially with the current game being played at the college level," Gettleman said. "I look at a guy, and he's caught 95 balls. I put the touch tape on of every ball thrown to him. Of those (95), 45 were flash screens. The others he caught, he ran to three spots.

"So, do they understand coverage? They're going to have to learn the whole route tree. How long is it going to take them to assimilate? It's an issue. It's a problem. That's why we spend as much time with these kids on the road, bringing them in, to figure that out."

Later, Gettleman addressed the notion of a "classic" NFL left tackle.

"The misconception is people talk about, 'He's got to have left tackle feet,'" Gettleman said. "There are only so many elite tackles. When I say that, I say that as an evaluator. There are plenty of guys playing left tackle in this league that don't have classic left tackle feet.

"If you only had left tackles that had classic left tackle athletic ability, there's only 15 teams that would send an offense out there with 11, guys because the other 15 wouldn't have a guy to play left tackle."

WEAPON OR PROTECTION?: If it came down to drafting a wide receiver for quarterback Cam Newton to throw to or an offensive tackle to protect him in the first round, which would head coach Ron Rivera prefer?

"Both," Rivera said at first.

"I think protecting him," he then continued. "Because again, you have so many opportunities to have playmakers on the field. Other than the quarterback, there are five other guys that can make plays for you. I think right now with what we've done in bringing in the guys that have the ability to make plays for us, I feel very comfortable with that.

"I look at it and I've alluded to it. We've got to be able to replace 10 catches a game on the average by the wide receiver position. How explosive those plays are will determine the type of players we have on the field. But I do know that if we continue to run the ball successfully and play the quality of defense we played last season, we give ourselves a chance to win a lot of games."

CREDITING THE SCOUTS: In 2014, more underclassmen declared for the draft than any other in NFL history.

That means more work for scouts, and Gettleman expressed appreciation for their efforts.

"I want to congratulate (director of college scouting) Don Gregory and the college scouting staff," Gettleman said. "They've done a great job gathering information, evaluating the players, and they should all be commended. Being a road guy has become more difficult.

"There's almost a second scouting season because of the number of juniors that are coming out. The number jumped from 70 to 103, and it puts a strain on those guys because they're back out on the road in January and February and March and don't have a lot of time to catch their breath."

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