Panthers were reportedly ‘high’ on Jets DE Will McDonald IV
The day before the Carolina Panthers got cracking on the 2023 NFL draft, general manager Scott Fitterer dropped a little hint about the backend of the first round.
In an interview with team reporter Kristen Balboni, Fitterer said there were players he would’ve been willing to trade up for on Thursday night. Here’s the exact quote:
“We’re trying to figure that out right now. We’re making calls. We know where the group of players are where we wanna be. There’s a group where we’d wanna go up. There’s a scenario where we’d wanna go up and look at a player—if we can get there.”
Well, we may know who one of those players was.
According to Mike Kaye of The Charlotte Observer, the Panthers had their eye on Iowa State University defensive end Will McDonald IV.
Fun draft tidbit: I’ve heard the #Panthers were high on Will McDonald, and had he fallen to the late first-round (as many analysts projected) they might have traded up for him in that range. He was a player they really liked. https://t.co/HiP7nzI0NJ
— Mike Kaye (@mike_e_kaye) April 30, 2023
That interest makes complete sense given Carolina’s need for pass rushers. Plus, everyone and their grandmother who did a two-round mock draft seemingly had the 6-foot-4, 239-pound defender going to the Panthers.
But, they got beat to the punch. The New York Jets ended up plucking McDonald off the board with the 15th overall pick while the Panthers got their edge help in the third round with University of Oregon’s DJ Johnson—who they, perhaps ironically, did trade up for.
Experts grade Panthers' 2023 NFL draft class
WATCH: LB DJ Johnson gets his draft call from the Panthers
Panthers hoping 3rd-round pick DJ Johnson meets 'huge upside'