The Carolina Panthers currently hope Bryce Young ultimately blossoms into the face of the franchise, but former head coach Matt Rhule said that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy would be playing in the NFC South if he had his way.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Rhule said that in 2022, he tried his best to get Purdy on the draft board in Carolina, to no avail.
“When I was in the draft room in Carolina, I brought his name up,” Rhule said. “I said, ‘Hey, guys, he should be on the draft board’ — got vetoed on that one.”
Ironically enough, the two were across the field from one another for Rhule’s final game coaching the Panthers that fall. The 49ers beat Carolina 37-15, essentially ending Rhule’s run. Purdy didn’t play that day as the start of his rise from obscurity was still six weeks away.
Whether Rhule’s statement is revisionist history or not, the Panthers weren’t exactly stockpiling talent under his watch. Over three drafts with Rhule at the helm, Carolina selected 24 players. Nine of them are out of the NFL or have yet to play a down in the league. Meanwhile, only 11 remain on the Panthers’ active roster, with 2020 first-rounder defensive tackle Derrick Brown being the only player in the group to earn Pro Bowl honors.
After the Panthers plucked Rhule from Baylor in 2020, he went just 11-27 over parts of three seasons with the Panthers before being fired ahead of Week 6 in 2022. Following his lackluster tenure in the NFL, Rhule eventually landed on his feet back in college, hired by Nebraska as the program’s head coach ahead of the 2023 campaign.