Carolina Panthers changing draft dynamic
Moving with the times is something that's been a core component behind the Carolina Panthers approach this offseason. The professionalism, collaboration, and collective purpose have all increased since the previous regime was mercifully removed, which leaves the franchise in a much stronger position heading into the 2023 campaign and way beyond that.
This has also seen some adaptation in ethos in terms of the draft. COVID-19 and the influence of NIL mean players are coming out of college much later than usual, which is a trend that could continue given how much money prospects can make with their respective programs before landing rookie NFL contracts.
Take D.J. Johnson as a prime example. Carolina's third-round selection in 2023 has the same birth year as Brian Burns and Derrick Brown, yet the edge rusher is embarking on his first NFL campaign while the aforementioned duo are now seasoned veterans on the brink of attaining second contracts.
The topic was recently discussed by general manager Scott Fitterer, who stated via the team's website that even though it seems unique right now, the front office figure expects the situation to correct itself over the next two years.
"There's guys on the board that were older than some of the guys on our team right now. It's unique. And there's two ways to look at it. I mean, their bodies have had a chance to mature. Maybe they had more reps in college because they got that extra year. I think it's just kind of one of those unique years that way. I see it correcting over the next couple of years. But yeah, it was wild. Like, 'This guy's 24? This guy's 25?' We ran into that a few times."- Scott Fitterer via Panthers.com
The only thing stopping Fitterer's notion from coming true is NIL, in all honesty. If prospects can earn more in college than the pros - especially lower down the pecking order - why bother declaring until the last possible moment?