Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

April 29, 2018 at 10:44 pm.

Panthers 2018 draft: Speed at receiver added with Moore

The needs for the Carolina Panthers were clear, so they zeroed in on them early in the draft and they gained mostly positive reviews to show for it.

It became apparent that general manager Marty Hurney’s discussions about adding speed across the board weren’t just convenient talk. The Panthers went out and backed it up.

They took wide receiver D.J. Moore out of Maryland in the first round and followed that with cornerback Donte Jackson, a speedster out of LSU, in the second round.

By the time they took defensive back Rashaan Gaulden out of Tennessee, the Panthers had given the defensive backfield a big boost.

They spent two of their first three picks on defensive backs.

“That’s an area that we want to upgrade and build and we were able to do that,” Hurney said.

But the big prize might be Moore because he’s a player who combines speed with the play-making ability that the Panthers have desperately sought to help provide more downfield production.

“He was one of the guys that we really didn’t think was going to get to us (with the 24th overall pick) but he did and we feel lucky that he did,” Hurney said.

As much that’s being made about Moore’s speed, Hurney continues to emphasize that his ability to break tackles might be what separated him from other receivers in the draft.

Moore offered the self-assessment as well when asked about his strengths.

“I would say run after catch, right off the bat,” he said.

Head coach Ron Rivera said Moore’s role could come at any of the receiver positions, so that’s something the team can study across the next few months.

There’s also the versatility element that the Panthers have come to embrace. They did that last year with first-round pick Christian McCaffrey and they see some of those traits in the players they selected this year.

Moore put together a strong background in special teams during college. The same goes for Jackson, who also will be looked at as a punt returner.

With Jackson, the Panthers like what he does with his speed beyond posting impressive numbers on the stop watches.

“He’s sudden, he’s quick,” Hurney said. “He plays fast. He’s going to help us in a lot of areas.”

Hurney praised Gaulden’s instincts. Rivera said the Panthers are going to make it a priority to see how he can handle the safety position before other options are explored.

It might be possible to envision Gaulden stepping into the role that had been held by safety Kurt Coleman.

Gaulden said his background includes learning to play at different spots.

“I can play anything in the defensive backfield,” he said. “So, I mean that’s just the confidence that I have. That’s just through the coaches that I’ve had. They’ve trained me to be able to play any position in the back end.”

If there was an area that the Panthers didn’t directly address, it was the offensive line. They had interest in some of the players, but nothing that worked out as draft developments unfolded.

“They flew off the board quickly but again, we talked about patience and we kind of let the board come to us,” Hurney said. “I think we’re very happy. You can’t draft everybody. You can’t fill every need but I think that we feel like we got very good value.”




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