Even during the cloudiest portions of Carolina Panthers spring workouts, tackle Taylor Moton always had a shadow:
Little signed his rookie contract this week having recently completed mandatory mini-camp. While financial terms were not disclosed, based on figures from the NFL's slotted salary structure for draft picks, at No. 37, Little's four-year deal is estimated to be worth about $7.6 million.
When the Panthers traded up in the second round of this year's NFL draft to select Little, it was with the hopes he could contribute from day one. General manager Marty Hurney remarked the night of the draft that Little could compete for playing time immediately.
"We think he has all the skills to be our starting left tackle for a long time," Hurney added.
That appears to include this season, which means Little's progression from raw-but-talented prospect to starting NFL tackle is being fast-tracked. As such, wherever Moton went during mini-camp, Little followed. The two would block each other during drills, then chat on the side afterward.
Think of it like a crash course in pass protection ... and run blocking ... and being a professional ... and, well, everything that comes with playing left tackle at football's highest level.
As a second-round tackle himself back in 2017, Moton knows Little's task as well as anyone.
"Daryl (Williams) was a big part of helping me transition from college to the pros, just getting to watch him work day-in and day-out from OTA's and then in the season," Moton told the Observer during mini-camp. "Ultimately I just want to help (Little) out as much as I can ... That's what paying it forward is all about."
Of course, that means praising Little when he excels and coaching him up when he struggles. With Little matched up against first-round defensive end Brian Burns during team drills, Moton has had to do both. On certain plays, Burns' elite first step got the better of Little. On others, Little's athleticism helped him stonewall Burns.