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CHARLOTTE – The Panthers upgraded at Wide Receiver with a player that former Steve Smith claimed was “finally a replacement” for the void left when Smith was cut from the Panthers in 2014.

The Panthers had a number of options still available at #24 on Thursday night and used their first round pick on an explosive offensive weapon in the 2018 NFL Draft, picking Maryland wide receiver D.J. Moore. Somehow, Moore was the first wide out selected in the draft.

“I’m ecstatic. I’m happy. I cried a little, but I’m happy,” said Moore,  “It was a sigh of relief to be able to get that call. Once I saw North Carolina come up on my phone, I was like, “OK, this is the pick.’ ”

Moore did not attend the draft, instead choosing to watch with family and friends at his home in Philadelphia.

Moore said that the Panthers expressed interest in the possibility of picking him in the first round during the pre-draft process.

According to Moore, the Panthers told him during his official visit that they planned to draft the WR if he fell to them at pick 24. The staff had to choose between Moore and Alabama’s Calvin Ridley,  who many considered a more polished route runner.  Moore is a more physical receiver with breakaway speed after the catch compared to Ridley however. Plus he will bring an attitude and toughness to the Panthers Wide Receiver room…probably not seen since Steve Smith roamed the hallways of Bank of America Stadium.

Moore and Ridley, who was drafted by Atlanta at pick 26, were the only two wide receivers picked in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

“It feels great just to know that what I did in college didn’t go unnoticed by the coaching staff,” Moore said. “When they came to my pro day, I just lit it up for them.”

The 6-foot, 210-pound Moore had a great Junior season for Maryland in 2017. Playing with four different quarterbacks during the course of the season, he posted 80 receptions for 1,033 yards with eight touchdown catches and was named Big Ten Receiver of the Year.

Moore’s career totals include 146 receptions, 2,027 yards and 18 total touchdowns.

Moore, extremely confident in his abilities as a play maker, described himself as an exciting player that has run-after-the-catch ability.

“At the same time, you’re going to get a hard worker, somebody that’s going to know the game plan week in and week out,” he said. “I’m just going to come in there, learn as much as possible and be ready to go.”

The Panthers’ next pick is No. 55 overall,  in the second-round Friday night when the NFL Draft continues Friday. Carolina has a pair of third-round choices to wrap up Friday – at No. 85 (acquired from the Bills in the Kelvin Benjamin trade) and at 88 

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