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Panthers once eliminated a prospect because of his elevator ride with Matt Rhule

Matt Rhule, Panthers

Scouting incoming NFL rookies will certainly be different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With limited interactions, teams will look to take advantage of every opportunity to make their assessments on the nation’s best prospects. Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule shared how short interactions could make a difference in choosing who to draft. Rhule admitted he once struck out a prospect, whom he did not disclose, on their draft board after riding with him on an elevator.

Via Darin Gantt of Panthers.com:

“There was a player last year, and I won’t say who, but was supposed to be drafted pretty highly,” Rhule said Tuesday. “And I got in the elevator with him at the Combine, and I was like, by the end of that elevator ride, I was like, ‘There’s no way that guy will be a fit with us.'”

Who could that be?

Certainly, scouts would still look at a player’s skills as the No. 1 priority. Nevertheless, evaluating prospects’ attitude, mentality, and overall fit with the rest of the team goes a long way in selecting the right player.

Of course, the Panthers eventually went with defensive tackle Derrick Brown as their first-round choice in the 2020 NFL Draft. They then selected Yetur Gross-Matos and Jeremy Chinn in Round 2. Chinn, selected 64th overall, was a candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Carolina will get to pick eighth in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft after a disappointing 5-11 season. While Teddy Bridgewater is a solid starter, the Panthers could very well be looking for a franchise quarterback in the draft this year.

Rhule won’t have many chances to make his assessments as the Senior Bowl comes around the corner. Nevertheless, elevator rides and mini-interactions will be of utmost importance as Carolina looks for its next star.