CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Just because the Carolina Panthers have two young stars at defensive tackle doesn’t mean they won’t consider adding another with the 30th pick of the draft.
General manager Dave Gettleman already has called this a strong class of defensive tackles, “which doesn’t upset me.’’ Sunday’s workouts at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis reinforced that.
Remember, Gettleman likes his big men that he fondly refers to as "hog mollies."
Short emerged as one of the top tackles in the league with 11 sacks and made his first Pro Bowl.
Considering Gettleman’s fondness for big men who can disrupt the quarterback, he probably wouldn’t pass on one if that was the best player available at 30.
Gettleman also could be looking for insurance in case the Panthers can't reach a long-term deal with Lotulelei or Short. The Panthers can use the fifth-year option on Lotulelei to lock him up through the 2017 season. That isn’t an option with Short, who's entering the final year of his rookie deal.
Both eventually will demand salaries of more than $10 million a year, probably closer to $15 million or $20 million.
The Panthers also like to use a four-man rotation at tackle, so adding a young player to groom with Lotulelei, Short and 34-year-old veteran Dwan Edwards makes sense.
Carolina coach Ron Rivera admitted on Thursday he wouldn’t be surprised if Gettleman went for another pass-rusher, whether it’s a tackle or an end.
Rivera also didn’t rule out other positions.
“There’s some quality offensive linemen that are going to be considered," he said. “There’s some corners you’ve got to look at, as well.
“I haven’t had a chance to look at it a lot, but what I’ve heard from our scouts, they feel strongly about the offensive and defensive lines. They feel strongly about the corners. Those are probably the positions everybody will be looking at as well that are here.’’
But if it comes down to a big man who can rush the passer over any other position, Gettleman will take the big man.