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Pre-draft visits offer a chance to dig deeper

Malik Willis

CHARLOTTE — Throughout the scouting process, the Panthers have been able to talk to prospects in short spurts.

Now, they get a chance to go a little deeper with a number of them, as they begin their final preparations for the 2022 NFL Draft.

The Panthers are having pre-draft meetings with most of the top quarterback prospects this week, with Malik Willis, Matt Corral, and Kenny Pickett among the passers making their way to Bank of America Stadium.

North Carolina's Sam Howell was here Monday while they were holding a local pro day, but he didn't work out. They also had meetings set up with quarterbacks Desmond Ridder and Bailey Zappe.

All the quarterback interest was expected, as they've talked about the search for a long-term answer there being "open" since the Combine.

They also have interviews set with several of the top offensive tackle prospects next week, as they put plenty of research into the two big offseason priorities — and how best to use the sixth overall pick.

"It's really our best chance to learn more about the player," Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer said of the meetings. "You get a chance to get to know them better, see how they interact with people on staff and everyone around here."

At the Combine, teams are allowed to have 45 individual meetings with players, each lasting a maximum of 20 minutes. That doesn't give you much of a chance to learn anything more about a player than what he plans to tell every team.

But teams can bring 30 players into the facility for individual visits, giving the team more of a chance to get to know them. When they bring a player here, they can get a better sense of how he applies information over the course of a day, as opposed to just spitting it back in a short window.

Players will meet with coaches, have what amounts to an installation session in the morning, and then circle back later in the day to gauge their understanding.

"When you have a longer chance to visit with someone, you can get a better sense of how they learn," Fitterer said. "This is more of how they grasp the concepts of the offense or defense, and being able to get a little deeper."

Most of the 30 visits have been scheduled, with some flexibility built in next week to adjust to a landscape that can change with a single phone call.

Draft prospects from around the Carolinas came to Bank of America Stadium on Monday for a pro day workout before this month's NFL Draft.

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