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Carolina Panthers

Panthers prepared for NFL Draft

CHARLOTTE – General manager Dave Gettleman and the Panthers are as prepared as they can possibly be for the first round of 2015 NFL Draft on Thursday night. Their board is set. Their evaluations complete. So now we wait.

The Panthers are waiting until pick No. 25. Gettleman dismissed the idea of trading up in round one and said Carolina is zeroing in on a handful of targets.

"In my ideal world, you are talking about three or four guys," Gettleman said. "That's where you want to be."

Does anyone in that group stand out above the rest?

"Yeah," Gettleman said with a smile. "All of us have something we'd like to have. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don't."

Draft analysts are almost unanimous in their belief that Gettleman has his eye on offensive tackle capable of playing on the left side for years to come.

But how many legitimate left tackles are out there? Depends on who you ask.

"Four or five," Gettleman said. "You'll get arguments, but that's one of the nice things about being king."

Offensive tackles have reigned supreme in recent drafts. In 2013, three of the top four picks were offensive tackles and five were taken after 19 selections. In 2014, four were chosen in the first 19 picks.

"It's possible that could happen again," Gettleman said. "Could there be a long-term guy at the left tackle spot at 25? Yes, there could be.

"But who else is available? What else is there? You have to make a decision."

Gettleman has no hesitation looking elsewhere. After signing Michael Oher to a two-year contract, he believes the left tackle item has been marked on the checklist.

"We had a bunch of check boxes. We felt we hit those check boxes (in free agency)," Gettleman said. "I feel really good about that."

Gettleman feels really good about his team. He feels really good about how they finished the 2014 season and he feels really good about the way free agent acquisitions filled needs.

"My first press conference I stood in front of you guys and said that I firmly believed that the run (of five wins in six games) at the end of the 2012 season was not fool's gold," Gettleman said. "The next year proved that I wasn't crazy. What happened this past season – winning five out of our last six – that was real. With the things that we've done this offseason, I'm not saying we're perfect – we've got a long way to go and we've got to get value out of this draft – but I feel good about where we are at.

"We're not walking into this draft like we were last year at wide receiver."

They are walking into the 2015 draft with wide open possibilities.

After doing several first-round mock drafts to prepare, Gettleman and his staff have a pretty good sense of who should or shouldn't be available. At pick No. 25, they will trust their board, trust their evaluations and add another important piece to puzzle.

But that's just the beginning of the fun.

"In the second round, after around 10 picks, that's when the boards blow up," Gettleman said. "Everybody's values are different. It's really, 'Whoa.'"

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