New Carolina Panthers Head Coach, Matt Rhule, now has his first NFL Draft under his belt and it is safe to say he did a wonderful job. Rhule and the rest of the management staff has big plans for the Panthers and he went into details during an interview on ESPN with Trey Wingo.
Right from the jump, Rhule had a list of things he wanted to get accomplished. So far he believes things are going well.
"We wanted to go after young, explosive, dynamic defensive players in the draft, address offense in free agency, we extended Christian [McCaffrey] which was obviously huge for the entire organization, I think Marty Hurney has come in with a great plan and has a vision of how we will move forward," Rhule said.
One of the things Rhule mentioned was utilizing the draft to acquire young talent on his defense. He started his draft by drafting defensive tackle Derrick Brown of Auburn.
"Well he is just a physical force...We looked for great athletes, great player, eat people, Derrick fits the build...He dominated the SEC against the run and against the pass. Great human, great competitor, and building block for the future."
Rhule was focused on adding speed and strength to his defensive line. So in search of finding someone to go along with Brown, drafting Yetur Gross-Matos was a no brainer.
"A lot of sack production coming out of the Big 10 at Penn State, he is a tremendous physical athlete, and still very young. A ton of upside, 266 pounds and we expect him to continue to grow. We believe that you win up front so by pairing him with Brown, we believe we have two great stars to go along with the vets that we already."
To round out the second round, the Panthers traded up to get help in the secondary. By drafting Jeremy Chinn, Carolina added a physical athlete with a high football IQ.
"I had a chance to go see him at the Senior Bowl, and coming out of a smaller school, there is a lot of talented players coming out of the FCS ranks. He's big, he's fast, he's explosive, he's smart. At the Senior Bowl he did everything, he played safety, he was down in the box, in one-on-ones he played press man, and we thought he was one of the most versatile, most explosive athletes in the draft and we thought he would be a late first round pick. We believe that he, along with our first two draft picks, are impact players for us as we move forward."
The reason that Rhule felt comfortable using all of his draft picks on defense was due to his belief in young star, Christian McCaffrey. The Panthers were able to extend McCaffrey’s contract earlier in the off-season and Rhule spoke on how important that was to accomplish.
"From my very first day meeting Mr. Tepper and Marty Hurney, it was important to all of us to build for the future. Christian is exactly the type of person, the player, that we want to build around. When you come to Carolina and meet the guys like Shaq Thompson and Tre Boston, all are committed to winning, and Christian , what he did last year was fantastic, in fact his past three years has been fantastic, and it is great that he is going to be here for a long time and we are going to do great things together."
Although Carolina decided to keep McCaffrey, they had to make the decision to let another star go. The biggest Panthers news so far this off-season was that Carolina and Can Newton decides to part ways. This made the starting quarterback spot open and the Panthers brought in veteran, Teddy Bridgewater. Rhule has a lot of faith in Bridgewater and expects him to lead Carolina and right the ship.
"I love Teddy, I love who he is, he is obviously a great quarterback, but who he is as a competitor, as a leader, and even going back to my Temple coaching days seeing him at Louisville, then in Minnesota and New Orleans, he is a football guy, someone people can rally around, and I am happy as a head coach that i have a leader like him."
Coach Rhule seems very optimistic about the off-season so far and he has every right to be excited. Adding some offensive firepower through free agency, and drafting some special defensive talent, the Carolina Panthers are on the right path to righting the ship back to football dominance.
How are you feeling about the future under Coach Rhule? Do you like the draft picks? Please let us know in the comment section below and feel free to interact with us on social media.
You can follow us for future coverage by clicking "Follow" on the top righthand corner of the page. Also be sure to like us on Facebook & Twitter:
Facebook - @PanthersOnSI