NFL Draft: Panthers' GM wants 'best available' at pick No. 8

The NFL Draft is just a few hours away, and we'll finally get some answers about the future of the Carolina Panthers -- and more importantly who will be under center.

Carolina made some last-minute moves Wednesday, trading Teddy Bridgewater to the Denver Broncos for a sixth-round pick, leaving fans even more curious about what the plan is for Thursday night's NFL Draft.

Panthers' general manager Scott Fitterer, in his first crack at the Draft since taking over the position, has a chance to make a good first impression with Carolina fans depending on what he decides to do with the first-round pick at No. 8.

"There's some obvious positions that we could upgrade," Fitterer said. "We're going to take the best available. That's what we did in free agency. We filled a lot of needs. We're a built-through-the-draft team and that's what we want to do is take the best available player. We don't want to be forced into a need."

The Panthers have been trying to find their franchise quarterback ever since Cam Newton left. They made moves earlier this spring, trading for Sam Darnold and getting rid of Bridgewater, last year's starter. They could take another quarterback Thursday if the right one is still available at No. 8.

"There's actually several of them that we're excited about," Fitterer said. "Just like there's several players, but we're not going to get into exactly who."

If the Panthers decide to stick with the 23-year-old Darnold and not use their first-round pick on a quarterback, they could possibly trade back with the Denver Broncos or New England Patriots and then look at two of their biggest needs: cornerback or offensive tackle.

"We're very open to moving back, we're open to picking," Fitterer said. "It just depends how the board falls those first seven picks in front of us."

Head coach Matt Rhule said the team is taking a long-term approach.

"What we want to do is we want to be able to look back in five, six years and say we have a couple of great players that came out of this draft," Rhule said. "It's not necessarily about a need for this season; it's really trying to build the team."

The Panthers have eight picks going into the Draft and one thing to expect is to expect the unexpected.

You can watch the NFL Draft starting at 8 p.m. on ABC11 and ESPN.
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