When the project was over, head coach Matt Rule spoke of the faith to trust the board. He also trusted his own two eyes.
Among the seven choices he made on Saturday were four boys who trained in the Senior Bowl and one man (fourth round, who goes back to Chuba Hubbard) who had a great day against Rhule’s Baylor team two years ago.
But most of all, they stayed true to the process that Rule talks about so often.
Rule admitted that if they hadn̵
They also followed him with the first choice for the weekend.
General manager Scott Fitterer made it clear before the project that he wanted to add the numbers to the list, and if the right commercial offer had arrived on Thursday night, they would probably have returned from eighth place.
But they also took a look around and looked at their own rating and took the player they needed instead of the one that would be easier to sell.
Cornerback Jesse Horn is the kind of cover player you should have if you’re going to compete against Julio Jones or Michael Thomas or Mike Evans. Horn is also the kind of player they didn’t have. If you are going to endure the pain of a season that gives the top 10, you have to get out of it with a cornerstone player. They believe that Horn is one.
Many people have questioned their decision not to take Justin Fields, and making a quarterback in the first round is the easiest way to get forgiveness from fans – at least for a year or two.
But instead of disproving Sam Darnold, they did what his previous team never did.
In addition to using Horn’s first choice, the Panthers’ draft class was a symbolic hug for Darnold, an acknowledgment that in order for this thing to work, they had to protect their quarterback and give him many parts to work with.
They have a pair of very good starters in DJ Moore and Robby Anderson. But realizing that Anderson was in the final year of his contract, they brought Terrace Marshall Jr. and Shea Smith over the weekend, adding goals that could be cultivated and included in the violation. There is also a third round, Tommy Trembull, who can be both a defense and a goal.
They also recognized the need to protect Darnold, so they invested in the fight against Brady Christensen and the protection of Deonto Brown. Whether Christensen could stay in the left direction he was in college remains to be seen (they are not yet committed to positions), but the Panthers’ line needed both youth and quantity.
The Panthers did not solve every problem on the list over the weekend. They couldn’t have. No team can. There is still uncertainty on the offensive line and at the minor level and they may not have the talent from the top shelf to fight for the Super Bowl at the moment.
But by being honest with themselves, recognizing where they have been, and moving with a goal in a certain direction, they may have come much closer to the goal.