It was close.

The Carolina Panthers had the top two receiver prospects in the NFL Draft, D.J. Moore and Calvin Ridley, closely rated before making Moore, a former Maryland star, the 24th overall choice. The Atlanta Falcons picked Ridley, a former Alabama standout, 26th.

‘We had a group of about five guys that we would be very happy with at 24’

But as Panthers General Manager Marty Hurney explained, there were other players the team considered at No. 24.

“Basically what we did, coming into the draft, we had a group of about five guys that we would be very happy with at 24 and we got our pick and three of those guys were there and it was a hard decision between Calvin Ridley and D.J. Moore,” Hurney told Bruce Murray and Brady Quinn on the SiriusXM Blitz. “I think that the difference to us is, and we think they’re both excellent wide receivers, is just D.J. Moore gives us a little different skill set than we had.

‘He’s a guy who I think is going to improve every year, makes contested catches, has great body control’

“His run-after-the-catch, I think, is elite. He’s a guy who I think is going to improve every year, makes contested catches, has great body control, played with four different quarterbacks this year. We think he’s got a ton of upside, but certainly both of those receivers, that was a hard decision.”

Equally difficult was evaluating Ridley’s performance on a Maryland team that had repeated quarterback changes during his time there.

‘He was really their one guy, he was one guy they were going to and teams would try to take away’

“I think we did (have a hard time),” Hurney said. “He was really their one guy, he was one guy they were going to and teams would try to take away, and he’d still make plays. I don’t think the route tree’s any problem for him. I think his play strengths, his ability to run after the catch and then, really, his body control and ability to make contested catches.

“I think those were the things that stood out and we just think he’s going to be a heck of a receiver.”

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