CHARLOTTE – In addition to discussing the Panthers' approach to the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, general manager Dave Gettleman expanded on several noteworthy topics during his 37-minute pre-draft press conference.
Below are some of Gettleman's additional comments.
On drafting a running back, which is considered one of the deeper positions in the draft and features game-breaking talents like Todd Gurley from Georgia and Melvin Gordon from Wisconsin:
"Is there a chance if he's the right guy? Yeah. I took a look at the last few drafts, and really the fact of the matter is there hasn't been a great, great back. Running back is a very deep position (this year). It's a nice group to pick through.
"We've got Jonathan (Stewart), who finished very strong. We've got Fozzy (Whittaker) and we feel really good about him. Can he handle the first and second down load in a legitimate split between he and Jonathan? That's up for debate, because he's never had to do it at the pro level."
On if he would draft a player coming off a major injury – relevant 2015 examples include Gurley (knee) and offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi (knee) from Texas A&M:
"CliffsNotes, yes, and that's obviously after the medical (evaluation). It's possible. You are always looking at the big picture. How bad is the injury? What's the chance for reoccurrence? Was the repair good? Has the rehab been good? What's the reasonable expectation?"
On the quality of the wide receiver group after so many rookie wide receivers shined last season:
"I think we're going to find in time that last year's group was unique. There are all styles (in this class). I think there is even more depth in this year's group, which sounds crazy. Part of it is a function of the college game."
On whether having nine picks – two more than last year – makes it tempting to trade up on day two or three of the draft:
"It makes you consider those things. It's something that we'll have in our heads. It's definitely doable.
"To draft nine guys and think that all nine are going to make your club – it's going to be tough. But you look at it the other way: if you draft nine, it's two less guys you have to chase in undrafted free agency."
On evaluating cornerbacks, who Gettleman said play a completely different game at the collegiate level:
"We were looking at the DBs (at the Scouting Combine), and they were doing a backpedal and turn drill. There were 54 corners in the two groups. I asked (defensive coordinator) Sean McDermott, 'How many of these guys really know how to backpedal?' Sean said, 'Eleven know how to backpedal.' So I said, 'Ok, how many have the athletic ability to learn how to backpedal?' That's what you have to find out. You have to eliminate the ones that don't have the athletic skill set to do it. You have to look at who you can teach. That's where the scouting comes in."
On the Panthers' philosophy when it comes to drafting players with character concerns:
"In terms of domestic violence, I think as an organization we made our statement. I don't have to go there. As far as the pot is concerned, and I don't want to be a sociologist here, but I think if it's a kid you are interested in and he's tested positive, you have to sit him down. You have to talk to him. We will remove guys from the board that we are not comfortable with. We don't want to be uncomfortable putting a cat on a guy's hat.
"They have to understand they are representing the Carolina Panthers. Ownership has shown who he is and what we're all about. We're not going to bring someone in here that we feel will tarnish that. There are lines you don't cross, plain and simple. I think it's been made very clear where we stand.
"If there are guys we had character questions on, that's what the (pre-draft) visits are for. When they come in there, they get grilled pretty hard. One thing that is really important to us is the culture we've developed in that locker room over the last two years. I promise you, if we don't have that culture at 3-8-1 – who we are and how we approach everything from day to day – we don't win the NFC South (in 2014)."