I t’s a small sample size, but if Dave Gettleman’s history holds, the Panthers will take a blue goose in the first round of next week’s NFL Draft.
“You can look at me like I’m nuts, but if there’s a blue goose pass rusher there, or a blue goose defensive tackle sitting there, I’m not going to be afraid,” Carolina’s general manager said Tuesday during the team’s annual pre-draft press conference.
So who or what is a blue goose?
Google doesn’t offer much help, but Wikipedia defines a blue-winged goose as, “a waterfowl species which is endemic to Ethiopia … It can swim and fly well, but this terrestrial bird is reluctant to do either, and is quite approachable.”
Even though everything you read on Wikipedia is right, I’m guessing Gettleman wasn’t actually comparing draft prospects to birds. But the phrase could stick to what Carolina does in this year’s draft like “hog mollies” did in 2013.
In his pre-draft meeting with the media last year, the first-year general manager famously foreshadowed using his first two picks on defensive tackles by stressing the importance of having “hog mollies,” or, big bodies on the line.
But before we try to read the tea leaves any further about his comments this time around, let’s have Gettleman explain what blue goose means in his terms:
“If there’s a great player there, we’re going to take him. If there’s a guy we feel can help us right now, the guy that we feel is going to play immediately and help us.”
Essentially, a blue goose, in Gettleman language, is another way of saying “the best player available.”
So while pretty much every mock draft you’ve seen and will see heading into next week’s draft connects Carolina to either a receiver or offensive tackle at No. 28, no one can predict with 100 percent accuracy which position Gettleman will take.
“I’m not going to insult your intelligence, you all know it’s a heck of a wide receiver draft and there’s a solid tackle group,” Gettleman admitted.
“But when you reach, when you’ve made up your mind and you’re going to take a position because you feel you need to fill that spot, more often than not you’re going to make a mistake.”
A mistake in this draft could happen if the Panthers use their precious first-round pick on a guy who’s not cut out to play left tackle or a wideout not ready for the pro game. Gettleman isn’t crazy about some of the second-tier tackles, and while this is one of the deeper receiving classes in recent memory, that doesn’t mean choosing the right one is all that easy.
“History tells you it’s a very difficult position to assimilate into, especially with the current game being played at the college level,” Gettleman said, when asked about this year’s receiver class.
Like most teams, the Panthers’ final board is “not only remotely close to being finished.” That process should be done early next week after most of the staff spends its weekend at Bank of America Stadium engulfed in film study and discussion. After that, Gettleman should have a better sense of what he wants to do.
As far as what he’s going to do? We’re going to have to wait until the picks start rolling in next Thursday before that answer truly starts coming into focus.
“We’d like a left tackle. The guys we have that are competing there, we have confidence in them, but again, it’s a matter of reps. You’d like a young wide receiver,” Gettleman said, before adding, “I wouldn’t be mad if a corner was there. You guys are going to get tired of me saying this, but when you reach, you get screwed.”
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