After having some discussions on twitter about the 2017 Draft and the Panthers “30” visits. Discussions revolving around the importance of the 30 pre-draft visits that are allotted to the Panthers.
I decided I would take the time today to go back and look at lists and info I have stored on my computer from the Drafts since Dave Gettleman was hired as the Panthers GM.
I spent time going back and doing some backtracking and fact checking over old articles and videos on the net that I could find after those Drafts.
Something you learn as you follow these visit/workout lists is that sometimes a player may have never been reported for a visit before a draft or shown up as a workout on the lists prior to the draft.
Sometimes afterwards information would come out in an interview or presser that they did indeed have one. Sometimes the media doesn’t phrase a workout or visit right when they report it. Which leads to misleading reports of visits that were actually just workouts or meetings elsewhere.
I never jotted down those moments when they happened in the past and relied heavily on my recollection of those times when discussing it on social media with other fans but today I have done some research on this subject to present here.
Understand beforehand that some of the information on my old lists are incomplete because while I did keep up with draft visits in 2012, 2013, & 2014. In those seasons I wasn’t as heavily involved in looking up info during those seasons like I am now.
So there may have been reports of workouts or visits I completely missed in those three seasons that I just can’t find now on the net when I go back looking for stuff I don’t already have.
My information was more reliant on others presenting me the info or other online lists in those seasons to collect info from. Instead of me personally looking for the information and reports like I have been doing the past couple of seasons in 2015, 2016, and this season with the 2017 Visit | Workout | Meeting List.
Plus I have also learned new methods of searching and finding information since then that I previously didn’t use.
Lets start with the 2016 Draft. In 2016 every player the Panthers drafted had a Private Visit leading up to the draft. In fact at least 8 players total between drafted & undrafted players who were signed after that draft were part of the 30 Private Visits. Here are those players:
- Vernon Butler
- James Bradberry
- Daryl Worley
- Zack Sanchez
- Beau Sandland
- Andrew Bonnet
- Devon Johnson
- Keyarris Garrett
Leading up to the draft CB James Bradberry went completely unreported on any pre-draft visit or workout list. He was the only player to go unreported on my visit/workout list prior to the draft. We didn’t find out until afterwards that Bradberry had a workout and visit with the Panthers as quoted below in an article from ESPN.
Due diligence: The Panthers were the only team to work out Bradberry and bring him in for a visit, another reason the corner felt he would slip into the third day of the draft.
The same thing happened with CB Daryl Worley in the 2016 Draft. While Worley did get reported that he had a pre-draft work out with the Panthers and was listed for that work out on my list. His visit with the team went unreported and wasn’t revealed until after the Draft as quoted in the piece below.
In his conference call moments after being selected, Worley went so far as to say Carolina was the only team he wanted to play for after experiencing a memorable pre-draft visit.
“That was a team that when I took a visit there, I honestly fell in love with – the entire coaching staff, the city as a whole,” Worley said. “I was just completely comfortable. It’s an excellent place.”
Next let’s move on to the 2015 Draft. In the 2015 Draft after backtracking and checking it revealed that 3 of the 5 Draft picks had one of the 30 private visits with the Panthers. I could not find any reports linking any of the undrafted signings in 2015 to the visits or through my lists.
The only one that there was no information of a visit or workout for this Draft was RB Cameron Artis-Payne who was not listed or reported to have any contact with the Panthers prior to the Draft that I can find before or after the Draft.
OT Daryl Williams who was reported to have worked out with the Panthers before the Draft and was listed on my pre-draft visit/workout list for that work out. He was not reported prior to the Draft of having a visit with the Panthers nor could I find anything stating otherwise in my recent search.
Here are the only three players that came from the 30 private visits that there is any info available about in 2015:
- Devin Funchess
- David Mayo
- Shaq Thompson
Prior to the 2015 draft both WR Devin Funchess and LB David Mayo went completely unreported leading up to the draft and they weren’t on any of my pre-draft visit or workout list prior to it. The only two who did end up on the visit/workout list & were reported prior to the draft was LB Shaq Thompson and OT Daryl Williams.
We did however find out after the Draft that both Devin Funchess and David Mayo had visits with the Panthers. As you can find below in the interviews with Rivera and Gettleman after that Draft.
In 2014 The Panthers had 2 of their 6 draft picks in for the 30 private visits and a total 4 players signed from their 30 private visits after that Draft that I can find any information on. The players were:
- Kelvin Benjamin
- Kony Ealy
- Philly Brown
- Andrew Norwell
The only players that ended up on my visit/workout list before the draft that was drafted were WR Kelvin Benjamin, DE Kony Ealy, and OG Trai Turner. Turner was listed for a Pro Day meeting he had with the Panthers but he had no reported visit prior to that Draft.
Two of their undrafted signings, WR Philly Brown and OG Andrew Norwell both showed up on the 30 private visits prior to the Draft as well.
WR Kelvin Benjmain’s private visit went unreported prior to the draft and was not revealed until after the draft in an interview which is quoted below. He was however reported for a work out with the Panthers prior to the 2014 draft and ended up on my visit/workout list before the draft for it.
When the Panthers brought Benjamin in for a pre-draft visit, head coach Ron Rivera realized the play revealed even more about Benjamin than what was obvious on film.
I also learned that after the draft that the Panthers had worked out CB Bene Benwikere prior to the 2014 draft that had went unreported prior to the Draft. It was later revealed in an interview after the draft which is quoted below.
“(Passing defense coordinator) Coach Steve Wilks and (head coach) Ron Rivera came down to work me out,” Benwikere said. “We went over board work, coach Wilks explained a few defenses to me and gave me a test afterwards. I was able to explain things back to him. Then we took it out to the field, and it was a bunch of ball drills. It was a great time.
“After my workout I immediately felt strongly about them.”
Last let’s look at the 2013 draft and how that played out. In 2013 the Panthers only used 28 of their 30 private visits prior to the 2013 Draft. Electing not to use one on 1st Rd. pick Star Lotulelei (that was reported) but instead they sent Eric Washington to Star to work him out that year.
This is the only instance that I can find a 1st Round pick did not visit with the Panthers in the Gettleman era.
The Panthers only drafted or picked up 1 player that had a 30 private visit leading up to the draft and after it in 2013.
- Kawann Short
They did have a meeting with OG Edmund Kugbila at his Pro Day prior to this Draft. Which I had him as one of the players on my visit/workout list prior to that Draft for that meeting.
They did not have any reported meetings/visits/workouts with LB AJ Klein or RB Kenjon Barner nor can I find anything after the Draft on these two players meetings with them. No undrafted signings came from the 30 or the visit/workout list I currently have from that season either which is very incomplete.
So there you have it. Given I had much less involvement in keeping up with this information in 2013 and 2014, I can say that you might expect at the very least 3 to 4 players to show up from these 30 private visits if I had to guess. Either through the draft or after it.
One thing that is interesting from this list is that out of all the Wide Receivers they have brought in. 100% of the ones picked up either by being drafted or signing as an undrafted free agent have showed up as a 30 private visit prior to or after the Draft (Benjamin, Funchess, Philly, & Garrett).
Does that mean that guarantees they will or won’t take one of the wide receivers if they are or aren’t on the 30 private visit list? No, but it is interesting.
I firmly believe that with the Wide Receivers the workouts and off site meetings play more of a part in their drafting since they’re the biggest portion of the visit/workout list usually.
Especially since it is always one of the biggest in sheer number that shows up in reports prior to the Draft since I started following and the majority of those meetings are normally campus workouts.
As you can see there are a lot of players that ended up not visiting with the Panthers or had reported visits prior to the Draft that end up getting picked up during or after it.
So there is hope if your favorite prospect doesn’t end up on the 30 private visits prior the Draft despite the high volume that were picked up from it in 2016. There is hope if they haven’t showed up on the workouts/visit list yet too.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the visits aren’t important because they are. If I had to rank meetings with an NFL team for most positions prior to the Draft I would put a private visit atop the list.
Private visits allow a NFL team to get a prospect on the white board and check out the one thing you can’t check on tape. Their brain. They can check out their recollection abilities, their character, their personality, and their intellect.
Behind that I would list the work outs but by this time NFL teams have hours upon hours of footage of a prospect in games and probably practices to look at from College. So sometimes that is enough.
Like with anything leading up to the Draft. Be it mocks, predictions, or lists. There is no proven formula to 100% get into the head of a NFL coach or GM but it is fun to try.
I hope some find this information helpful and if you have any questions or something to add to this piece send me a tweet on Twitter at @BlackBlueManiac.