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Carolina Panthers GM Scott Interview (5-1-23)

The Drive with Josh Graham / Josh Graham
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May 1, 2023 5:04 pm

Carolina Panthers GM Scott Interview (5-1-23)

The Drive with Josh Graham / Josh Graham

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May 1, 2023 5:04 pm

GM of the Carolina Panthers, Scott Fitterer, joins the show to discuss the moment it started to feel real that Bryce Young was a Panther, what stands out the most about Bryce Young, and his conversation about country life with Jonathan Mingo.

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In the aftermath of the NFL Draft, Carolina Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer now joins the show. We love getting you on after the draft Scott rather than before because it's always an awkward song and dance where you have to play defense with your answers and the information before Thursday night versus the week after. But I'm just curious how far that secrecy goes pre-draft. How many of your friends are bugging you? Are you letting your wife know who the number one pick before Thursday night? No, you know what? We did a really good job as an organization keeping it quiet.

I know there's a lot of speculation out in the media, especially a week or two leading up to it. But I had buddies out in California who would call me, hey, who are you taking? And never told them. It's one of those things that we thought it was best to keep it in house. We didn't tell the players. We didn't tell the agents. We even kept our coaches kind of a little bit in the dark.

We had our staff meeting last week and we purposely didn't cover the quarterbacks in that meeting at the time just to kind of keep it quiet. So we went to great lengths. But the wife knew going into Thursday night. Just got to make sure that she's in the loop. Wives always know. They know before we do sometimes.

You know what's interesting? Speaking of wives, there was something Frank Reich said over the weekend that made me think of my wedding day last year. He spoke about how cool it was to finally have picked Bryce and have him in his office wearing panther gear, just ready to get to work, which reminded me of the moment me and my bride were on our wedding day and we finally get away from cameras, get away from people.

And we get a chance to take a breath and say, wow, this we're married now. It finally soaked in ever since Bryce arrived in Charlotte Friday. Have you had that moment of realization that all the wheeling and dealing to get the top pick and all the scout to get finally had reached its conclusion? Yeah. You know what?

It was kind of Friday afternoon when that came about for me. He was standing out on the field. You know, we had walked out there with Frank and some of our staff and media, and then I'm watching Frank and Josh talk to Bryce in the middle of the field. This is for real.

This is no longer. We're not scouting him. We're not at Alabama having dinner with him. You know, he's ours now and it was kind of it was a really good feeling because not only the quarterback, but the person and what this does for the fan base. You know, everybody's so excited about him and he is the type of guy that we want in our locker room and you know, being up front for us. In the NFL, everyone remembers who goes number one in the draft.

Bryce is now part of that history. He's, I think, the 10th to win a Heisman Trophy and then become the number one pick. When you look at the history of number one guys, there's usually one attribute that stands out from the rest. Looking at recent examples, Joe Burrow, his swagger, that quick pull trigger. Kyler Murray had that elite speed. Since it seems so many have focused since he was draft on the one thing he doesn't have, what's one trait that separates him from most of the quarterback prospects you've seen over the year?

His ability to slow the game down in his mind, see the fields, and go through his progression. He has that poise in the pocket that's rare and it makes sense for him. He makes it look easy back there. He never looks stressed.

That's what the great ones do. He's not a big guy but he's got some really rare traits that you need to play that position and he is special from the neck up. Let me know though, when you're watching film, how does it become clear to you after watching hours of tape over the last two decades looking at guys that the game has slowed down? Is there something specific you can point to on Bryce's tape that kind of wows you from a scouting perspective? When he's under pressure in the pocket, there's a lot of big brush, there's a lot of great players, and he's standing in the pocket. He never turns his shoulders, his eyes are downfield, he dips and he ducks.

But if you watch his face mask, it never drops. He's always going right through the progression, looking downfield, and that's what sets the great ones apart. Yeah, that LSU game comes to mind when he's getting out of the pocket and you're right, his eyes just stayed downfield on a play that ended up being a touchdown. Scott Fitterer, Panthers GM, joining us on WSJS. A couple of weeks ago, you said you had a pretty cool pre-draft visit with a wide receiver but wouldn't say the name and then we learned that receiver was Jonathan Mingo over the weekend that you took in round two. Since most of the people listening to our conversation have never been in one of these pre-draft interviews, I would assume, what made his visits stand out from a lot of the guys that you normally bring in?

Yeah, we were in my office and I was with Dan Morgan and Mingo was, Jonathan Mingo, sitting in the chair right in front of my desk. And about five minutes into it, it was just a really good flow of the conversation. He sat there strong, had a good presence, he's a little country, he's just talking about different things, but he's got a swagger about him and a real toughness. And you wouldn't think that would come across in a conversation, the toughness and the confidence.

It really did. He just sat there and I could have sat there for two hours with him. And the minute he got up and walked out, Dan and I looked at each other and Dan just said, man, that's a cool kid.

And that's exactly who I was talking about when I was asked that question. You may not hear it in my voice, but I grew up in the sticks in the country as well. When you say a little bit country, what comes to mind? What are you saying there? Well, he was talking about, I think, riding horses and doing everything. He likes to go out fishing.

He's legit. That's outstanding. At least that's country to me. I don't know, I grew up in the city.

No, that's pretty country. You're talking about fishing, you're talking about all of that. That's fantastic. Scott Fitterer is here with us. So to broaden it at the Skill Position Group, since trading away DJ Moore, your skill additions have been DJ Chark, Adam Thielen, Hayden Hurst, Miles Sanders, and now Jonathan Mingo and Demir Bird last week. But let's go back to happy hour that day when you made the trade with Chicago.

How concerned were you then that you'd be able to replenish the skill positions the way that you have? Obviously, it hurts to lose DJ, the player. The person is the one that hurts the most because he's such a good guy in the locker room, so respected. He's just a very likeable guy. Nicole Tepper was really close with him.

I think it was hard for Nicole as well. But anytime you move on from a player, it's like, okay, what's next? How do we replace this? So we went out, created a little bit of money because his salary is off the books. We have to allocate that towards Adam Thielen. We're going to go after DJ Chark. Maybe we attack this in the draft. We're going to sign some players. Plus, we're also going to develop the guys we have. We're going to develop Terrace Marshall, who's absolutely phenomenal so far, just in OTAs. Even the coaches came in like, wow, we didn't realize this kid was this good.

Then Schneltz really coming out. He's in absolutely great shape. We really like where our receiver room is at right now. Then you add the running backs and the tight ends to the group.

We wanted to make it where we could support the quarterback, where he had the weapons he needed. He can be that point guard. He doesn't need to take it all on himself and make those plays. He's got players around him.

All he has to do is be himself and deliver the ball. Was your tight end need, the way that it was talked about going into the draft, over-exaggerated? You didn't take a tight end in the draft.

Do you feel pretty good there? Yeah. Tommy Trimble is another guy that's come on this year. Our coaches have talked about him.

John Lilly, I know is really high on him right now. You've got to remember, he's only 22 years old. These guys came out young. A lot of these players in this draft are 23, 24, 25. Terrace Marshall is another young guy.

These guys are just pups. Heading into it, we like our tight end room. We like the addition of Hayden Hurst. Ian's been a solid guy in there. He's a really stout run blocker.

I think that's a good group. John Lilly coming across from North Carolina in the offseason to join Frank Reich's staff. We're chatting here with Scott Fitterer, Panthers GM on WSJS. Flipping real quickly to defense. I remember after your first draft, Scott, you were on with us and you pointed to a bowl game that Auburn was losing badly, I think. Something stood out about Derrick Brown, the way that he played, how hard he was playing despite what the scoreboard read. That's what stood out to you. Can you share something specific you saw in DJ Johnson's tape from Oregon that compelled you to trade up and get him in round 3? Yeah, it was just his motor off the edge. We have a guy that's 6'4", 260 pounds, runs 4'4".

That's rare in itself. How our coaches are going to play him, they want someone that can first set that edge. Kind of a hard edge is what they call it. There's a lot of good athletes in this draft that were past rushers. They might have been 230 pounds. That's really hard for them to set the edge first and then get after the quarterback. The fact that DJ can do that, placed out, and then he's got that 4'4", I think there's a lot in his body. What you have to remember is he was a tight end too. He split time at tight ends.

He's moved around quite a bit. He's a little bit older, but they think he's pretty raw that we can develop into a nice rusher and he fits what we're looking for. Our staff was excited to get him. Who was the undrafted free agent that you were most surprised was available to you to pick up? I thought we had an absolutely great free agent class. We went through this morning and said I think 5 or 6 of these guys can push at some point to make a roster.

I do like the 3 corners that we signed. Nash Jensen, who we signed, was probably our best free agent offensive lineman. There was a lot of competition for him.

It was a real fight to get him. He's another guy that can fight to make the roster. Aku Liotta, who's a pass rusher from Auburn. He's another guy who was hurt during the year.

The tape that we saw shows some slipperiness. Even Jalen Redmond, the Oklahoma kid, the defense lineman, that's a good get. We're excited about this group as a whole, which is rare. Usually you can say after the draft because there's so much chaos and competition going that we've got 2 or 3 guys that can push.

I think that number is closer to 5 or 6 this year. Last thing for Scott Fitterer here. I think I heard you on another interview saying how unrealistic the movie Draft Day was. We have a tradition of having our guests help our producer Will out because he's not very cultured. He hasn't seen any of the good movies and step by step. I think last year Steve Wilks made you watch a couple of Denzel movies. I think that's right. You haven't seen any of the Denzel movies so we helped get that done.

We're helping rectify things. So rather than put you on the spot for one movie, give me maybe a few that Scott Fitterer has seen more than any other movie. Is it a genre?

Is there anything that stands out? You know what, The Natural, Hoosiers, all those movies that talk about character and team. I love those.

That's what I go to. I also say outside of that, James Bond, Ocean Eleven, Italian Job, anything like that. I don't have an opportunity to watch a lot of movies but when I do I love to sit down and watch those. I'm scared to ask W.D. W.D., you played collegiate baseball. Have you seen the movie The Natural with Robert Redford? I've not seen The Natural. There we are. Now you're seeing what we're talking about. Scott, Ocean Eleven.

Have you seen Ocean Eleven? No. This is helpful. Scott Fitterer, see? You're helping help me help you. That's what you're doing here, Scott, in helping us. Thank you so much for making the time. I hope to see you sometime down the road. Congratulations on your biggest weekend of the year and your scouting department as well. Congratulations on a draft. Well done. I appreciate it. Thanks for having me.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-01 20:47:10 / 2023-05-01 20:53:07 / 6

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