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LAS VEGAS — The craziest NFL draft related thing I heard Wednesday? It came from Carolina Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer, and it was so out there that I don’t know if he was trying to fool someone into trading for his No. 6 overall pick or if he’s just not that good at judging quarterback talent.
Because at one point during his NFL mandated pre-draft press conference Tuesday, Fitterer said this about the quarterbacks in this draft class:
“If we have to pick one at six, I would feel comfortable with one of them, actually a couple of them at six,” Fitterer said.
He cannot be serious.
Fitterer has apparently not gotten the memo that this draft class of quarterback talent is, by all accounts, sub-par. It is filled with players who come with significant question marks.
If it’s not questions about Kenny Pickett’s hand size and inconsistent mechanics, it’s about Malik Willis and height (not quite 6-foot-1) and his lack of tape against top-grade competition. And those two are supposedly the best of the group.
None of this year’s quarterbacks is a sure-fire elite face of the franchise guy coming out. Someone might develop into that. Maybe.
But as prospects go, none of these guys come with the raw skills of, say, Justin Herbert or Josh Allen. Herbert, you should know, was the No. 6 overall selection of the 2020 draft. Allen was the No. 7 overall selection of the 2018 draft.
Both are built like living statues of David. They have prototype size, gifted arms and can run like running backs.
And Fitterer sees a couple of quarterbacks like that in this draft to the point he’d be comfortable using the No. 6 overall selection on them?
If that’s the case, he must see stuff few other scouts (none I’ve spoken with) see.
The Panthers GM is simply trying to pump up the proverbial volume on the No. 6 pick because he’d like to trade it away for a chance to land a good player later on but also add some extra picks. The Panthers would be wise to do this because they lack a selection in the second and third rounds.
That makes so much more sense than the sales job on the QBs. And it makes sense because the Panthers have had talks with teams that might be willing to trade up to the No. 6 pick.
“I think there’s a handful of teams, maybe 3 to 4, that are really serious about it,” Fitterer said. “We’re just keeping all of our options open, but it’s definitely something we’re going to look into. If there’s a good player there at six, we’re just going to stay there and pick the player.
“Without having a second- and third-round pick, we’re going to keep our options open.”
Fitterer, by the way, has every intention of picking a quarterback in this draft. That’s a goal. So much so, that the Panthers are not likely to trade for Baker Mayfield during the draft, according to Fitterer.
“We want to get through the draft this weekend,” Fitterer said, before revisiting that possibility.
But a QB is definitely coming to the Panthers. Fitterer spoke with incumbent starter Sam Darnold and told him to expect competition.
“In our conversation, I said, ‘Hey, listen, we are going to add to this group. Through this weekend, there’s a pretty good chance we could add to this group. It’s an open competition,'” Fitterer said. “It’s his spot right now, but whoever can take this spot and run with it, we’re going to do that.
“He was good with it, we’re all on the same page, and we know we need to stabilize that position. And we’re looking forward to adding to it.”
But at No. 6 overall?
That would be crazy.
New York Jets Options At No. 10 Overall
The New York Jets have engaged the San Francisco 49ers about trading for receiver Deebo Samuel and may eventually be willing to give up the No. 10 overall selection in the draft to make it happen, a source told OutKick Tuesday.
That doesn’t go quite as far as a Tony Pauline report saying “that No. 10 pick belongs to San Francisco,” but the point is the teams are talking and it’s interesting the 49ers are listening — which they didn’t seem to want to do only a few days ago.
The pertinent question here: why the Jets are so eager to do this?
Indeed, why have they been so eager to engage in practically every potential receiver trade talk this offseason, including for Tyreek Hill and D.K. Metcalf, when the draft is full of talented wideouts?
Making this move would, as salary cap website Spotrac noted, pay Samuel in the neighborhood of $20-$25 million per season, when the Jets could draft a player at No. 10 and pay that rookie $27 million for five years of service.
Are the Jets so desperate to get a playmaker right now as opposed to trusting their scouting and coaching and drafting and developing one?
Disagreement In Jacksonville?
We reported Tuesday how the Jacksonville Jaguars have three players they were still considering for the No. 1 overall selection, and those choices don’t even include the added possibility of a trade-down.
That is not typical at this late stage in the process because most teams holding the top pick know which player they want.
And aside from being very good at keeping information in house, here’s another possible reason the Jaguars haven’t shown their cards, according to NFL people eyeing the situation:
There is a legitimate difference of opinion within the organization on which direction the pick should go.
The Jaguars will ultimately present a united front once they make their pick and talk about how it was a collaborative effort around which everyone rallied.
But as late as last week, coach Doug Pederson was still pushing the idea of taking an offensive tackle to help protect quarterback Trevor Lawrence. General manager Trent Baalke, meanwhile, has been focused on adding a pass rusher.
And as the discussion has gone back and forth two players have risen, perhaps above Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, as the choice: Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker and North Carolina Ikem Ekwonu.
Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero