CHARLOTTE -- The Carolina Panthers braintrust walked in the door not trusting high-picked quarterbacks. They've learned the hard way the dangers of going early for wide receivers and interior linemen.
That doesn't mean they won't use any of their early selections during this weekend's NFL Draft to tweak their offense.
The chances are good they'll take an offensive lineman and a running back among their first four picks. But despite all the talk, and despite the natural skepticism, a first-round quarterback might be the last thing this team needs.
Certainly the Panthers are fond of this year's top passer, Boston College's Matt Ryan. They like Michigan tackle Jake Long too, but they're not getting him.
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The backgrounds of the two top decision-makers (general manager Marty Hurney and coach John Fox) lead them away from such a call, whatever it would entail. Hurney cut his teeth in the Washington organization, where they won Super Bowls with all manners of passers, none top picks. As an old defensive coordinator, Fox is skeptical of paying big money to a guy he's not going to trust for several years.
Look no further than the current depth chart to see how they feel about quarterbacks and how to acquire them. Between Jake Delhomme, Matt Moore and Brett Basanez, they have no drafted players, much less first-rounders.
Delhomme's recovery from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow this offseason has sparked much of the quarterback talk, but everyone in the organization and in Delhomme's camp seems confident he's fine. And if he's fine, there's no question he's their guy, although national pundits have been trying to give his job away for years.
"Jake is doing great and Jake's our quarterback," Hurney said this week. "We have a lot of confidence in where Jake is health-wise. We like the other quarterbacks, Matt Moore and Brett Basanez, on our roster. Any time you get in the draft, because of the nature of the quarterback position, if there is somebody that you think can be a player in the National Football League, we all feel you have to look very hard at him because it is a very critical position in our game.
"But I don't think we're going in saying we have to get a quarterback, because we feel very good about the three quarterbacks on our roster."
They still might draft one, albeit in a later round. That said, they did their due diligence on all the top prospects.
The offensive action's going to be at tackle and running back, with by-the-way picks toward a wideout and a tight end.
They went the veteran free agent route for receivers and guards, signing D.J. Hackett and Muhsin Muhammad and a Hannibal-crossing-the-Alps caravan of guards.
Beats Keary Colbert and Dwayne Jarrett (although they're not giving up, yet) or Bruce Nelson or Evan Mathis, doesn't it?
The focus will be on finding a starting tackle, so they can execute their pre-planned shift of Travelle Wharton to left guard. They also need another running back, although the depth in the draft makes it tempting to fill other needs rather than picking Rashard Mendenhall or Jonathan Stewart high, and filling in with a Kevin Smith or Matt Forte later.
Yes, last year's offense was a mess.
But most of the work on the offense was done on an operating table and by sifting through the free agent market selectively.
One or two selections, and they should find the improvement they're looking for.