Just hours after the Carolina Panthers traded for Sam Darnold, the front office wasn't fully revealing its poker hand regarding how it would address its top pick in the NFL Draft. The need to draft a quarterback with the No. 8 overall pick isn't a priority with Darnold and Teddy Bridgewater on the roster, but Carolina won't pass on a potential franchise player if one of the signal-callers falls to them.
Simply put, Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer says drafting a quarterback is still in play at No. 8.
"This doesn't take us out of anything in the draft," Fitterer said, via the team's website. "It doesn't take us out of taking a quarterback, it doesn't take us out of taking any position. What we wanted to do going into this draft, through free agency, through this trade with Sam, was to just get rid of all the needs we have. We wanted to get to a place where the roster was in a good spot, and we could take the best available player at No. 8.
"We could always move up, and we could always move back, but this puts us in a position to make the right football decision for this team moving forward."
The Panthers will have a decision to make if a quarterback does fall to No. 8, even though the franchise covered their tracks with the Darnold trade. With the top three picks certainly going to be quarterbacks and a likely bidding war for the No. 4 pick (which also could very well be a quarterback), the Panthers decided to take a chance on Darnold, which allows them plenty of options with the No. 8 pick.
The Panthers can focus on offensive tackle or tight end, with Penei Sewell very likely to be in play at No. 8. If Sewell is off the board, Rashawn Slater or Christian Darrisaw will be in play. There's a chance Kyle Pitts could be available at No. 8, but he's likely to be the first non-quarterback taken off the board.
Carolina has its quarterback in Darnold. Now it can afford to play the waiting game and see how the board plays out.