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Dave Gettleman Pre-Draft Conference

Over analyzing everything Gettleman said during the pre-draft conference.

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Dave Gettleman sat down with Assistant GM Brandon Beane and Director of Player Personnel Don Gregory to answer questions prior to the draft. Here we will dissect the most innocuous comments to try and glean answers that barely exist if at all so we can guess 6 days beforehand who Carolina is (probably) going to be drafting. Let’s kick things off with a pretty self-explanatory quote:

It’s a really good draft.

Here we can see that Dave thinks this year’s draft is.....really good. In particular he indicated excitement about having 4 picks in the first 3 rounds (as any reasonable person would be).

In reference to how players are coming out of college, Dave had a few words to share about the changing of the times and the readiness of players in general.

They’re playing a little different game now. - Developing versatile players. In particular, in the past you had what Dave refers to ‘Plug and Play’ guys. Guys who were fundamentally sound. There was no limit on the amount of time they could spend in football or with coaches getting ready. The result were players ready to take the field where all that was needed was to ‘Polish the stone a little bit.’ Now:

Now we’re getting guys that are not as fundamentally sound and there’s more work to be done with them.

Guys weren’t as raw on those sort of things.

What’s going to allow you to take a guy and develop him?

With the new rules in place and the new types of schemes being developed at the college level, Dave thinks teams are adjusting to the types of players they are getting. Players without the same level of readiness necessarily. So it’s a bi-product of the game that scouts are looking for guys that can succeed at the next level. Maybe they want be ready out of the gate, maybe they’ll hit the practice squad for season but being teachable holds a lot of weight for raw young athletes.

I’ve said it a million times, at the end of the day you have to be able to run the ball, stop the run and rush the passer.

So this part we already know. Dave wants to pound that rock, he wants to run, run and run some more. He wants Running Backs that can run, Fullbacks that can run, Quarterbacks that can run, if the towel boy can carry a football, he’s getting 5 touches a game (are towel boys still a thing...towel, people? That’s gotta be a thing). Point being, there’s a premium on being able to move the ball in the ground game. Stewart is an all-star when the O-line holds up but the need for help behind a player on the wrong side of 30 is apparent. Mark my words, there will be a RB in this draft, whether 8 or 40 is anybody’s guess but I don’t see Carolina waiting past the 2nd round. Stopping the run and rushing the passer have been addressed thoroughly by locking up a pair of Hog Molly DTs and a stable DEs & LBs that should be the envy of the entire league.

So we’re probably looking at RB but what is Dave looking for? Any player that comes off the board has to fit a profile, what is Carolina’s style? Dave talks about critical factors:

Athletic ability, it’s instincts, it’s strength, it’s competitiveness, explosion, and we talk about play speed all the time.

It’s no surprise to see determination, high motor, the standards listed here but Dave also mentions speed. Speed is something he like to talk about and obviously covets (see Ted Ginn), perhaps even despite other deficiencies but Gettleman points out an old coaching axiom.

Every team will tell you speed’s important. There’s an old coaching axiom, speed makes geniuses of us all.

This kind of falls in place with the ‘You can’t coach speed’ , ‘You can’t coach 6 foot whatever, two hundred whatever pounds.’ The short of it being there are some things that’s are priceless in this game. If you can’t be fast, you better big if you can’t be big or fast you better have heart like Steve Smith because you’re gonna need it. At times a player doesn’t measure up to traditional standards but has that something special, that freak talent that makes them stand out. Guys like John Ross or Myles Garrett. Guys that just stand out beyond their experience levels. That being said:

I’m not tied into 40 yard dash times that guys who run in their underwear. What I am tied into is how fast that guy plays in their pads and play speed.

Every season we see a run on guys who perform exceptionally well at the combine despite an entire college career worth of performances to judge by, against live talent, when it matters. The Combine is useful, it’s a chance to verify things you’ve seen on film, talk to prospects, see them up close but as a draft strategy, basing your future on a single good weekend in uncomfortably revealing track clothes is the kind of thing that gets GMs fired. It’s just not smart. Dave goes on to explain why he thinks the Combine isn’t necessarily a deciding factor:

If you were just going to go on height, weight, speed on a card. I’m going to track meets. I want those guys than run a 4.3.

If a guy runs a 4.4 and you watch him on pads especially a DB or he can’t cover a guy deep or a WR that can’t get deep, he’s a tester. He’s not a football player.

A lot of people have become sold on the idea that the Panthers are selecting a RB at 8 (or near it) but others point to the trend in the NFL that RBs don’t hold the same value as other prospects at such a high position. How does Dave feel about taking a RB at #8?

At the end of the day I think that really and truly there was a period of time when there just weren’t great RBs coming out.

You gotta run the ball to win in this league, you’re not gonna win if you can’t run the rock, plain and simple.

I heard don’t worry he’ll be there in the next round. I’ve seen that blow up in peoples faces a number of times.

If a guy is sitting there that you know can help you win don’t worry about perception of whatever, My philosophy is take the best player.

Here Dave basically says he gives zero you know whats about perception when it comes to what is too early to draft a specific position. In fact it becomes clear that expectations from outside the team office have absolutely zero bearing on who gets their name called on draft day. If a player has the right skills and he’s on our board, we’re taking him. Period. Don’t take my word for it though:

I’ll draft over a guy. If there’s a position we’re particularly strong in and our turn comes up to draft and the best player on the board is in that group? I’ve shown I’m not afraid to do it.

You can’t have too many good players at any position.

We keep the best 53 players, it isn’t 4 of these, 5 of these 9 of these, it’s the best 53.

So this further muddies the waters because what is BPA? Some will point to last year and say we haven’t always followed that philosophy when need was an obvious factor. Has Free Agency affected this year’s draft?

Free Agency should set you up so you can draft the best player available. Last year was an aberration and honestly we came out of it darn good shape.

Ok, so Dave is going to take the best player available regardless of position. He values strong work ethic and speed and we’re looking for a guy that who is either ready or close to ready (obviously) but there’s more. The total amount of time spent talking about Running Backs probably ran into the two thirds department of the entire press conference. Why would a team spend that much time referencing a single position that is supposedly devalued by the NFL? Well, mostly because two players have been linked to the Panthers more than any other. What does Dave have to say about Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey?

On how many three down backs there are in the draft:

Probably half a dozen. There’s 3 down running backs and there’s three down running backs, know what I’m saying? Not everybody is equal.

So there’s about six potential three down backs in this class but obviously some are valued much higher than others. We all remember what Dave said about players who are special at their position right?

Is Christian McCaffrey a three down back?

Last season he rushed for what 650 yards and he’s caught another 90 balls. So that right there, when you can run it and catch it, I guess that’s three downs right? I don’t mean to be a smart ass but he’s certainly shown he can carry the load at Stanford.

Obviously Christian McCaffrey has skills out of the backfield. If you select McCaffrey you’re going to throw the ball to him more. You have to consider both of those what they bring to offense and special teams.

They fit. As Brandon said Christian McCaffrey is a different style from Leonard. Oh by the way, Leonard has really good hands.

We talk about fit. Does this guy really fit what we want to do and we’re not afraid to ask that question and were not afraid to move people around the board based on that question. They both fit in different style.

Brandon Beane on Leonard Fournette:

Obviously Leonard is a big power back. His skill set is hard to match.

When a guy has been injured like him, what we do is go back and see when he was healthy. He put up some crazy numbers.

Of course maybe Carolina doesn’t pick at 8. How does Dave feel about trading back a few spaces to achieve more capital?

Sitting at 8 is weird, I’ve never done it before obviously. There’s gonna be some really good players looking at us still. For us to trade up in the first round, you’re gonna have to give up a 2 or three, do we really wanna do that? This is all rhetorical but these are all things that I have to consider. I’ve shown I’m not afraid to move up. we’ll see.

Any GMs reached out to you guys interested in trade?

I’m not going to answer that.

Aww, shucks.

Is Tackle a position of interest in the draft?

There’s talent there, when..if we pull the trigger is another story.

If we feel we can improve that position were going to do it. Doesn’t matter if its O-line or D-line or whatever.

Brandon Beane on getting a better idea of who will be available picking at 8:

You get a better idea of what’s happening ahead of you at the eighth position.

The biggest variable is going to be the QBs, obviously were not in the market for a quarterback, but there’s a lot of guys being talked about and you’ve seen it every year there’s a premium for that position ideally? Some of them go in front of us.

So what about OJ Howard?

It’s a tougher position to find, the TEs and the FBs people think they’ve gone the way of the dodo bird. Gotta be thorough and patient but there’s some interesting guys there.

Some more random quotes to teeth on for the next week:

What happened last year doesn’t impact this year to a tremendous degree.

I’m not afraid to double down.

We drafted Vernon Butler sittin’ there with KK and Star.

If they’re the best guy at that spot....come on down.

On KK’s contract extension:

We use a term around here ‘ earn the right’ and KK has earned the right.

With great players, really good to great players, they make plays not only for themselves but for other players and that’s what KK does inside.

On having an away opener yet again:

The only home opener Ron’s had was my first year here, you know Seattle. Kind of weird.

You gotta play em somewhere, someway sometime.

Kick it off and let’s go.

So what about you guys? Feel any closer to picking who the Panthers are going to draft next weekend?