The wild draft that included Baker Mayfield going first to Cleveland, Darius Guice slip to the second round, and even Derwin James fall very close to Carolina's range, ended up a pretty predictable draft selection for the Carolina Panthers in DJ Moore. Sure, there were a lot of options available for Carolina when the 24th pick came along, but it seems that they had their eye on a guy all along.
GM Marty Hurney reported that they didn't think Moore would be there at 24. They were contemplating some other players, even another receiver in Calvin Ridley, but Hurney described Moore as having " speed, good play strength, excellent run-after-the-catch, he's a weapon." It's this added explosiveness on a larger physical frame that separated Moore from Ridley. Hurney explained, "He's explosive. ... We just thought that his athleticism and his run after the catch is elite."
When Carolina's pick arrived, they had a lot of latitude. There were some high-quality players at multiple positions of need. A wide receiver had yet to be selected in the draft, leaving Carolina the option of picking their ideal receiver out of the entire class. Moore was that guy, and given the smile on Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner at Moore's Pro Day, his selections shouldn't be a surprise.
Moore described the moment he found out the Carolina Panthers were selecting him as the first wide receiver taken in the 2018 NFL draft, stating, "I was happy, but I was just like, 'Yeah, it has to come to real life.' And it did today."
While many people have exaggerated Carolina's deficiency at wide receiver, it wasn't the greatest need for the team. There has been a philosophical shift since Carolina jettisoned former General Manager Dave Gettleman and Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula. There's been a brewing sense that Carolina has done a lot of good things personnel-wise in the last few years, but they have failed adequately arm Cam Newton with the firepower he deserves. Hurney and Turner have made that a priority.
In 2015, Carolina made it to the Super Bowl with a great defense accompanied by an explosive offense. Carolina seems determined to rekindle that offensive explosiveness by finally investing in guys who are playmakers. There is a certain X-factor to guys like last year's selection of Christian McCaffrey and now the addition of DJ Moore. It's hard to quantify the value of adding something unknown as this so-called "X-factor," but it's the type of factor that can take a team from competitive to dominant. It's the type of move that could just put this team over the top.
It's not too early to bet on Super Bowl 53. Sportsbooks have already put out futures for it and if you want to take a look, sportsbettingdime.com has a list of trustworthy betting sites you can choose from. Notice that the Panthers odds to win the 2019 Super Bowl have not changed after day one of the draft. They are still +3300 to win the Lombardi Trophy next year. But, if Moore really is the explosive play-maker this offense has been missing since the Steve Smith days, now may be the perfect time to wager on them.
By Tony Dunn
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