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Five takeaways from pre-draft press conference

1. PANTHERS IN POSITION TO DRAFT SEVERAL IMPACT PLAYERS: General manager Dave Gettleman never wants to “earn” a top-10 draft pick again, but if ever there was a year he might manage to stomach it, it’s this year.

And as for having four picks in the top 98? That hits the spot.

“This is a heck of a draft to have a lot of early picks, it really is,” Gettleman said at Friday’s annual pre-draft press conference. “And frankly, the back end has some interesting characters, too.”

In addition to the eighth overall pick, the Panthers hold three picks on the second day of next week’s draft: two second-rounders (40, 64) and a third-rounder (98). With draft day fast approaching, Gettleman likened the quality and quantity of high-end prospects to what he might find at his favorite ice cream shop.

“This is the full Ben & Jerry’s,” Gettleman said, virtually salivating over the possibilities. “There’s a real variety of talents and skills and interesting mixes and matches.”

Gettleman’s apparent giddiness about what the Panthers could add with the eighth overall pick and subsequent early-round selections suggests he would be hesitant to part with any of the picks to move up even higher in the first round.

Then again, he never knows until the draft begins to play out if he might want to scoop someone up.

“We’ll see. Time will tell. You’ve seen that I’ve moved up before,” Gettleman said. “There are going to be some really good players there. For us to trade up in the first round, you’re going to have to give up a [second- or third-round pick]. In this draft, do you really want to do that? These are all things I have to consider.”

2. CURRENT ROSTER WON’T DICTATE WHO THE PANTHERS PICK: Gettleman said this draft is loaded with talent at defensive end, in the defensive backfield and at running back, but neither that nor how Carolina’s current roster looks at those positions will determine what name is handed to the commissioner Thursday night.

“We’re in the position I want to be,” Gettleman said. “Where we can take the best player available.”

Gettleman never likes to reach for a draft choice based on position need, a difficult task in 2016 when the Panthers used three consecutive picks to address a “position catastrophe” at cornerback.

“Last year was an aberration,” Gettleman said, “but we came out of it in darn good shape, not overvaluing players.”

So even if mock drafters everywhere believe the Panthers will pick a running back at No. 8, that will only happen if a running back is the top remaining prospect on the Panthers’ board.

“If there’s a position we’re particularly strong in and our turn comes to draft and the best player on the board is at that position, I’ve shown that I’m not afraid to do it,” Gettleman said, referencing Carolina’s last two first-round picks – defensive tackle Vernon Butler last year and linebacker Shaq Thompson in 2015. “We drafted Shaq two years ago when we were loaded at linebacker. Well, we still are. That’s the point. You can’t have too many good…

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