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Panthers’ 1st pick: Wide receiver DJ Moore

Panthers take Maryland receiver with 24th overall pick

D.J. Moore

By Steve Reed

AP Sports Writer

CHARLOTTE (AP) — The Carolina Panthers have selected wide receiver D.J. Moore from Maryland with the No. 24 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, giving Cam Newton yet another option at offense.

Moore was the first wide receiver selected in the NFL draft and joins what is becoming a crowded wide receivers position in Carolina.

The decision to take Moore comes after the Panthers traded for Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith earlier this offseason and signed free agent Jarius Wright from the Vikings in hopes of improving a passing game that finished 28th in the league last season. Devin Funchess returns as Carolina’s No. 1 receiver after a breakout season in 2017.

“I’m ecstatic,” Moore said on a conference call. “I’m crying a little. … It was a relief. They told me they were going to take me if I was there.”

NFL Network analyst and former Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. said he liked the pick, adding that, “They have never been able to replace me” at wide receiver.

Said Moore: “If he said that, that is a high honor.”

Moore was the 2017 Big Ten Receiver of the Year and first-team all-conference selection. He caught a school-record 80 passes for 1,033 yards and eight touchdowns in 12 games last season for the Terrapins.

He also led Maryland in receiving as a sophomore with 41 receptions for 637 yards and six touchdowns.

He could also contribute right away as a returner.

Moore said he feels like he can be a week one starter for the Panthers “if I put the work in.”

It was first draft pick chosen by general manager Marty Hurney’s since 2012. Hurney was fired by the Panthers that year after conducting 11 drafts as GM, but returned to the team returned on an interim basis last summer and was hired full time in February.

The Panthers have made the playoffs in four of the past five seasons, but were knocked out in the first round last season by division foe New Orleans. The Saints swept all three games from Carolina, which made finding ways to match up better with them an offseason priority.

Carolina’s offense stalled most of the season in 2017 and it was often the defense that had to bail them out.

The move comes on the same day the Panthers gave tight end Greg Olsen a two-year contract extension.

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More AP NFL: http://pro32.ap.org/salisburypost/

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