How Scott Fitterer made his draft and develop dreams come true

(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) Scott Fitterer
(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) Scott Fitterer /

How did Carolina Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer make his dreams of drafting and developing a rookie quarterback come true?

If Carolina Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer wanted to make a big splash during his first offseason with the final say on personnel moves, he definitely accomplished that on Friday evening. The team now controls its own draft destiny after surging up to No. 1 overall following a bombshell trade with the Chicago Bears, which cost a substantial amount of capital and wide receiver D.J. Moore for good measure.

This guarantees the Panthers get the first choice of a talented quarterback class emerging from the college ranks in 2023. Those in power feel confident enough in one particular prospect to make this bold move, but which one that is has yet to be revealed and won’t be until they officially go on the clock.

Scott Fitterer and the Carolina Panthers went bold to secure the No. 1 pick

Fitterer has made no secret of his preference to draft and develop. To build around a rookie contract by strengthening other key positional groups in pursuit of playoff success.

The strategy was widely ignored by head coach Matt Rhule when he held absolute power. A series of flawed trades and suspect free-agent signings followed, which played a significant factor in the newly-crowned king of Nebraska’s reign coming to an abrupt conclusion.

Watching Rhule’s downfall is something Fitterer doesn’t want to go through himself. When speaking about the prospect of trading up recently, the front office figure felt that the Panthers were in a good position to strike in terms of roster strength and the elite coaching staff at the team’s disposal.

"“I think you’ve got to have conviction. If there’s a guy in this class that you like, you got to go up and go get him. We’re in a position now where we have a defense, we have an offensive line. We built around this for this opportunity. So if you have conviction, go get him. If not, you don’t want to force it. You don’t want to take a player and pass on a really good player, that might set you back. But you can’t be afraid to take a shot if you believe that’s the guy.”"

Conviction. That’s the keyword here.

Carolina couldn’t afford to sit around and wait for others to make their desired moves. The need for productive quarterback play trumps all else and the only way for Fitterer to guarantee getting his guy was to work something out with Bears general manager Ryan Poles.

Mission accomplished.

This has caused great excitement among the fans despite the disappointment about losing Moore. But what comes next for Fitterer and others in positions of power is arguably more important.

That, of course, is choosing the right quarterback. One that can finally bring the Panthers a worthy successor to Cam Newton four years after the former NFL MVP’s first departure.

Fitterer’s dream of drafting and developing has now come true. This trade is going to define his legacy in Carolina for good or bad, so the heat is on to put the right pieces around their new signal-caller to ensure his transition goes off without a hitch.

And with the legal tampering period beginning next week, there should be further exciting developments to come.

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