Biggest takeaways from the Panthers’ pre-draft press conference

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Trying to decipher Tuesday’s comments from the Carolina Panthers’ braintrust was like sitting through an episode of Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction. As the front office tried to maintain its gamesmanship for the 2022 NFL draft, how can we tell what was really true and what was really false?

Well, we won’t know for sure until this weekend. But here are the biggest takeaways—or at least the ones we think are real—from general manager Scott Fitterer, assistant general manager Dan Morgan and director of college scouting Cole Spencer.

A trade-down is (obviously) very possible

AP Photo/Vasha Hunt

Fitterer on how many teams have inquired about a trade:

“I think there’s probably a handful of teams, maybe three to four, that are really serious about it. We’re just keeping all of our options open. But that’s definitely something we’re gonna look into. But if there’s a good player there at six, we’re just gonna stay there and pick the player. We have several players on our board that help us get to six.”

Fitterer on how many players are draftable in the first round:

“So we always talk about there’s a ledge in the first round. This year, it’s right around 20. And that ledge within the ledge really stops right around six. And so we feel like there’s gonna be a quality player there.”

Fitterer on where he’s comfortable trading down to:

“I think the comfort level would be really in the teens. However, this is a large group. This is a unique group that between the 25 and 50 range, there are a lot of good players—more like foundation-type players. You wanna be disciplined in not trading out of those levels. But I think the teens, if I had to put a number on it, that would probably be the most comfortable spot.”

Sam Darnold will see some added competition

AP Photo/Bill Kostroun

Spencer on how many quarterbacks are draftable at pick No. 6:

“There’s a few guys we feel really good about that have skill sets that I think can help us out. I don’t wanna get into specifics on how many guys we have draftable at a specific position. But, needless to say, there’s guys we like.”

Fitterer on where the team’s quarterback situation is:

“We wanna stabilize the quarterback position. We need consistent play out of that. I sat down with Sam yesterday, and we talked about everything. We need to help him out as well. We need to help him out with the offensive line. I think we’ve done a good job keeping DJ [Moore] here. With [Christian] McCaffrey. Surrounding him with talent so he doesn’t feel like he has to make every play. But we do have to protect him. But in our conversation I said ‘Hey, listen, we are gonna add to this group. Through this weekend, there’s a pretty good chance we can add to this group.’ It’s an open competition. It’s his spot right now. But whoever can take this spot and run with it, we’re gonna do that.”

They're not pressing to recoup picks

AP Photo/Jeff Lewis

Fitterer on feeling the need to regain second and third-round picks:

“We’re not gonna be so focused on recouping those picks, ’cause we look at CJ Henderson as our third-round pick this year. We don’t wanna make the mistake of just moving around to move around, like I was talking about earlier. So if there’s a good player there, we’ll pick ’em.

Fitterer on keeping future draft picks through this weekend:

“Then as far as future capital, absolutely, you want to protect those picks. And a lot of the conversations I’ve had with other teams over the last week is ‘Hey, do you wanna give up something next year, in two or three, to move up this year?’ And my answer’s been ‘No.’ We want to protect those picks.”

This will be an unpredictable draft

AP Photo/Kendall Warner

Fitterer on the predictability of the picks ahead of him:

“Yeah, I think this is totally different this year. Even though we’re picking at six, it’s hard to say this person will be here one, two, three, four, five like we did last year. Matt [Rhule] and I were laughing today, ‘Hey, if we did that again, you’d have to do it three or four times to get it right. Really, it’s the first pick. Usually you know who the first pick is gonna be, or have a very good idea. It’s totally up in the air. We don’t know how many tackles are gonna go, how many quarterbacks will go, how many receivers, corners, it doesn’t matter. It’s totally up in the air.”

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