RE: His pre‐draft process with the Panthers
You know there was a lot of good conversations in that building. I feel like I connected with Mr. Tepper. As we were just talking about film and before dinner, I remember I had got there, and they wanted to meet up with me just before we went out to eat. It was a good time, and I am really excited to get to Carolina and get this thing going and get to work honestly.
RE: Reaction to falling later in the draft
You know it is definitely an emotional roller coaster for sure. You just have to control what you can control. I feel like I put my best foot forward and you just got to let go and just let God take control.
RE: What he brings most to the Panthers
I mean truthfully, man, it’s really my leadership and just the way I carry myself. I feel like it is very contagious throughout the locker room. I have great confidence in my ability as playing quarterback and as far as leadership goes that is something that I hold dear to my heart. It is something that radiates off of me.
RE: Goal coming to the Panthers
My whole thing is to just go in there and compete. I am going to bring the best out of myself and bring the best out of the people around me.
RE: If he likes the opportunity to come in and develop as a quarterback
I really feel like everything happens for a reason and it is all God’s timing. My approach to it is to be the best that I can be each and every day and get one percent better every single day. My competitive nature is going to obviously want me to be the starter and I am going to do everything in my power that I can to do that. I am just going to put my best foot forward and again just let God take control.
RE: Location he is currently
No, I am at Las Vegas right now in my hotel room with my family. They are just in the living room right now and I am just in the room.
RE: Highlight of coming to visit Charlotte for his Top 30
Really just seeing the city. You know I have never really been in North Carolina at all. Let alone Charlotte. I was really intrigued about visiting certain places and Charlotte was one of them. I really liked the city a lot. I really liked it a lot and I am glad that I get the opportunity to start my career in Charlotte.
RE: What stood out when visiting with the Panthers staff
It was really just a lot of good talks with their offensive schemer, Coach McAdoo, when we were just going over the offensive scheme. There was a lot of new terminology, but then again that is going to be at every place you get. It is just going to be all about repetition for me when I am learning it.
RE: What sets him apart from other quarterbacks in the draft
I always start this answer with my leadership, but not saying that I don’t think my strength is my arm talent and my ability to escape the pocket and extend a play. I definitely feel like my strengths are that, but what is most important to me is my leadership and my ability to create a camaraderie that bends but it doesn’t break. I feel like I have showed that the past two years of my college career. Again, it is something that I pride myself on and I am very excited, honestly, to just do it all over again.
RE: If he sensed the support of his teammates when he went down in the bowl game
It was really just the relationships I have with those guys in that locker room. I definitely could feel that they were feeling for me. Just the looks on their faces. I really couldn’t look at their faces when I was crutching out to the field. There is a lot of guys that gave me some love in the locker room even after the game. Again, I wouldn’t be in this position without them, and I don’t regret my decision playing in that bowl game.
RE: How much he knows about Sam Darnold
I actually used to watch him. I went to the, I want to say it was the Rose Bowl when Penn State played USC. I remember I was sitting, my buddy’s mom worked for State Farm, and she used to get tickets in that suite. We were like right out by their locker room. I remember just watching Sam Darnold cutting up Penn State’s defense. I definitely think he is a great player, and I am excited to learn from him.
RE: His thought process after getting hurt in the bowl game and if he thought it would affect his draft process
Man 100%. I definitely thought it was going to affect my draft status. You know that wasn’t the first thing that came into my mind, but it was definitely the top three. As soon as that injury happened, I grabbed my ankle and just felt the pain and my first reaction was my family. This whole thing about me trying to put them in a better position. Trying to give them something that they have never experienced before. Secondly, was my position in the draft status and being able to actually give myself an opportunity to display my talents. Playing and being an NFL quarterback is something I have wanted to do since I was six years old. I am blessed, truly. I am at a loss for words that I am actually sitting here talking to you guys. I couldn’t be more excited to get back to work and actually play the game of football. I am itching to get back out there.
General Manager Scott Fitterer & Head Coach Matt Rhule
RE: When it became a reality that the team might trade up with New England to select Matt Corral
Scott Fitterer: Well, you know it’s interesting how the quarterbacks fell. People had talked about the whole quarterback group as a whole, whether it’s first round, whatever, but as they start to slide, we kind of took steps back with them. We looked at going up in (round) two, several different times, there was just too much to get up there, but as the numbers stayed on the board that allowed us to be patient, go back with those quarterbacks. We’re just very fortunate to have someone of Matt’s talent sitting there in the third round.
RE: If the trade to select Corral takes the Panthers out of the market to trade for a veteran
SF: Yeah, we came into this weekend with getting a quarterback in mind and we did that, we accomplished that goal. We feel good about adding Matt to this group with Sam (Darnold) and PJ (Walker), and that was our goal for the weekend.
RE: What Fitterer liked about Corral’s game the most compared to some of the other quarterbacks who are still left on the board
SF: You know, one of things that really stood out the most beside from the physical traits was the competitiveness and the toughness of him. I mean the guy took a pounding, he kept getting up, kept getting up. He does run the ball and when he runs, he tries to run guys over. He has to learn you can’t do that but it does show his competitive nature. And then, when it just comes to the physical traits, the quick release, the mobility, the ability to get out and run, throw on the run, he sees the field well, he processes quickly. So all those things really stood out to us. And I know Coach has his opinion on that.
Matt Rhule: I think you look at guys who play at that level, this is a young man who has been a five star recruit, played at some of the best programs in California. Came to Ole Miss, elevated them to levels that they haven’t been at, played in the SEC, played against decorated programs. I think as Scott said, probably the quickest release you’ve seen in a quarterback in quite some time. Fearlessness with which he plays with. Jeff Levy, his offensive coordinator, who’s now at Oklahoma, a guy that I know well, talked about his work ethic, coming in at 6 a.m., staying ’til he was not there, until the end of the night, just constantly working at his game. For a young developmental quarterback coming into this league, I think he’s got all of the physical tools and he also seems to have the mental makeup. So we are excited to get to be able to work with him.
RE: How close the team came to possibly trading for a veteran quarterback tonight
SF: I think there were a lot of discussions, we explored all options across the league. We’ve done our homework but, like you said, I can’t talk about other players on other teams.
RE: If the team is definitely out of the veteran quarterback trade market
SF: No, I would never put an absolute on anything. We came into this weekend with the intention of adding a quarterback and that’s what we did. I think we are really happy with the group that we have and we are going to go with this group.
RE: What made them confident that Corral’s off‐ the‐field issues are in the past and that he is in a good place
MR: When we look at prospects, there’s a lot of guys that were drafted tonight that are not on our board because of character issues. They were drafted by other teams. I think we have a very high standard for character. We do learning evaluations, we do intelligence evaluations, we do psychological evaluations, we do a lot of work. I think everyone in their life goes through things and I think we do a really good job of trying to delineate between people who have an issue or problem that can’t be overcome with people who are going through some thing in their lives. I don’t know about you but when I was 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 I certainly went through things. I really respect people who have been through things and are powerful enough, and open enough to talk about them, and Matt is definitely one of those guys. I’m not going to comment on any particular issue but I feel good about who he is. But like any player coming into the National Football League their lives are about to change. We have built a really good foundation here in terms of people that are here to help the players as they come in. I feel good about that. You guys ask a lot of questions about this and that, I just want to say one thing: I thought Scott tonight was unbelievably elite. We had chances to trade up many times and at the last minute; his gut was not to do it, and just to wait. He read the board perfectly. And this is a guy that we had a really high grade on. This is a guy that we flew to, we brought him here, we’ve talked to him, we FaceTimed with him, we’ve done all kinds of things with him. To think that we would have no picks and end up with him in the third round to go along with Ickey (Ekwonu) is really well done by, not just Scott but the entire scouting staff. It’s really well done.
SF: If I can say something about Coach, he was great during the process. He was on the phone. He actually talked to (New England head coach Bill) Belichick during the trade process there. He was great, he was mastering that. He held firm on our offer, and really did a nice job with that.
RE: Where the team had Corral ranked among the five quarterbacks they brought in and what set him apart that you made them feel like he was the one to select
MR: I hope you understand we would never talk about the ranking. In the first round we might but as we get along we don’t want to disrespect anybody. I don’t want some quarterback coming in here in a year like, “They said I was fifth.” I’m going to say this, based upon the time spent, I hope that you get a feeling we really saw a lot in Matt for him to come here, for us to go there. We spent a lot of time with him. He was ranked really high. He is a guy that we’ve had conversations with about taking, we’ve had conversations with each other about taking in any round. So to get him here, to me, is a win for the Panthers.
RE: Corral’s grade internally from the Panthers
SF: We had him ranked fairly high. We’re excited to get him and surprised to get him.
MR: We would have taken him early, we would’ve taken him high but this is all projection. Scott did a really good job of laying the board out in a way that made sense as we went through this whole thing.
RE: If drafting being more cost‐effective than bringing in a veteran was a contributing factor in the decision to trade up
SF: I’ve always believed in drafting, developing your guys. Obviously, there is a market out there. You can go find guys that are veterans but we needed a young guy that is our own, that we’re going to have, that we’re going to develop as the future of this team.
RE: If the team considers Corral to be a developmental quarterback or is he a candidate to start Day 1?
MR: I know that (offensive coordinator) Ben (McAdoo) talked a week or so ago and made a statement and then kind of retracted it, really out of respect for me. I should say that. If we go play tomorrow, Sam Darnold would be our quarterback. We just drafted Matt. The transition from college to the NFL is really hard and over the last couple years, guys trying to make that transition in the first year trying to play right away hasn’t been very successful. When you look at the Tom Bradys, the Aaron Rodgers. If you think about it, it’s amazing. This is the only position in sports where the best players are over the age of 35. Even in golf, the best players are 20, 22, 23. In the National Football League, the quarterback position, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, they’re 35, 38, 40. Mr. Brady is 44. It’s amazing because it is experience. I say all of that to say we will always be a competition based place. Like the best players will play and we will do our best to have no agendas. But in a perfect world, Matt coming from a dynamic, fun, spread offense that he was in with (Ole Miss Head) Coach (Lane) Kiffin, with Jeff Levy, coming to the National Football League, the differences in the game, it’s going to take some time. Sometimes when you take those guys at 6, the pressure is so great to put them on the field, they can get ruined. I think this is the most amazing opportunity for a guy that we think has first‐round talent, who has played at a high level, to come in here, grow his body, develop his body, learn under Sam, learn under PJ (Walker), two tremendous professional players. Learn the system from the ground up with Ben (McAdoo) and whenever that time is that he is ready to play, he will get his opportunity. I’m still expecting Sam and PJ to show up on Monday with a great look in their eye. No one wants to give up their job in this league so he’s not walking in Day 1 and he’s the starter. Sam is our starter but we will compete. That is one of the goals, hey, let’s bring some competition in on the offensive line, let’s bring some competition in at the quarterback position and let these guys go battle it out.
RE: What Fitterer comfortable giving up a future pick for tonight’s pick after previously saying he did not want to give up future draft capital
SF: We started looking at the quarterback position. You know that there is a lot of value in there and we did need to add to it this weekend. It became very apparent. I think we did not want to move 1 and 2. Absolutely did not want to move. That’s why we were trying to be so patient not to give those up in the future. At 3 you can recoup but at 1 and 2, you’re really hitting from behind. That’s hard to do. I thought as a group, all of our scouts and coach and Mr. Tepper did a good job of staying firm and not dipping into 1 or 2.
RE: What stood out to Rhule that convinced him Corral was the right fit for the Panthers
MR: I think we went to Pro Day. What’s happening at Pro Days now, the quarterbacks kind of have to wait until the network is ready for them to throw and there was some confusion and they needed him to throw to the running backs. Here is this kid getting ready, he’s coming off of a foot injury, he has been throwing for about a week. He’s trying to save his arm. His teammates, his running backs, need him to throw drills to them. He goes over and starts throwing. Even some of us were like, ‘what is he doing? Poor kid.’ His trainer is like, ‘Don’t throw, don’t throw’ and he is like, ‘no, I’m going to throw to my guys.’ I think you go back to the Bowl game and you watch when he gets hurt and you watch every single guy on that field when he comes back out onto the field. I’m talking about trainers, I’m talking about running backs, I’m talking about D‐linemen, they all come over to him. One of the benefits in my life is when I go into some of these schools, there are kids that I recruited. I sat in their houses, I talked to them. I have a chance to talk to them and I had the chance at Ole Miss to talk to some kids that I recruited and there’s not one of them that wouldn’t say, ‘hey, your whole team is going to love him.’ That’s a big part of this position. There’s a lot of stress. There’s a lot of pressure. There’s a lot of accolades. Every guy on the team has to believe the quarterback wants to put them first. He did that at Ole Miss. He did that in small ways at Pro Day, throwing to the running backs. But you see how much love those guys pour out to him. We’re going to bring him along slow. We’re going to train him from the ground up. He’s a lot to learn. He’s got a lot to do but I am unbelievably fired up to get Ickey yesterday and have him show up today and then Matt Corral today. I can’t wait for tomorrow. Kenny Chesney and this, what could be better in Charlotte?