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2024 NFL Draft: Can Panthers Get Their Roar Back?

The Carolina Panthers are gearing up for a pivotal 2024 NFL Draft, where they’ll look to address key areas of need and bolster their roster for success, which they haven’t seen coming in quite some time.

After trading their 2024 first-round pick to the Chicago Bears to move up and select last year’s NFL draft odds favorite, quarterback Bryce Young, the move paid little to no actual dividends.

2024 NFL Draft: Can Panthers Get Their Roar Back?
Bryce Young #9 of the Carolina Panther | Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images/AFP

The Panthers’ front office will need to make calculated moves in 2024 to secure the right talent to elevate the team’s performance. With seven picks to work with, including their own second through fourth-rounders, the New York Giants’ second and fifth-rounders, the Tennessee Titans’ fifth-rounder, and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ seventh-rounder, what should the Panthers focus on to get their roar back?


What the Panthers Did in Free Agency/Trade

This offseason, the Panthers actively addressed two crucial areas of need, bolstering their offensive line and wide receiver corps. They secured former Miami Dolphins guard Robert Hunt on a lucrative deal, the second-highest among NFL guard contracts in average per year ($20 million) and total value ($100 million).

Hunt’s impressive performance in 2023 earned him the eighth-highest offensive grade among guards, with at least 100 snaps played. Last season, he allowed only one sack and three quarterback pressures.

This acquisition directly addresses the Panthers’ struggles in pass protection. Their quarterback pressure rate of 41.1% ranked fourth-worst in the NFL, and they surrendered 65 sacks, tied for the second-most allowed by any team alongside the Washington Commanders.

Protecting prized quarterback Bryce Young became a priority. Last season, Young endured pressure on 40.7% of his throws, the sixth-highest rate in the league, resulting in a dismal 73.7 passer rating when pressured, the worst in the entire NFL.

The team aimed to enhance Young’s receiving options by acquiring Diontae Johnson from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Johnson is set to immediately become Young’s No. 1 wide receiver, leaping over Adam Thielen on the depth chart.

According to NFL news outlets, the Panthers secured Johnson and a seventh-round pick (240th overall) in exchange for cornerback Donte Jackson and a sixth-round pick (178th overall). Johnson eclipsed 50+ catches and 600+ receiving yards in all five seasons since entering the league in 2019, making him one of only 16 players to achieve this feat during that span.

Meanwhile, Dane Jackson will replace Donte in the starting lineup, providing depth in the secondary.

  • Panthers’ Odds to Win Division: +1400
  • Panthers’ Odds to Win Conference: +12500
  • Panthers’ Odds to Win Super Bowl: +25000


Who Should the Panthers Draft?

The Panthers face an extensive revamp as they aim to build around their franchise QB, with the offensive line and wide receiver positions demanding immediate attention. However, the Panthers must prioritize protecting their young signal-caller, who endured relentless pressure last season. Regardless of quarterback talent, consistent protection is paramount for offensive success.

At wide receiver, the Panthers cannot rely solely on the veteran presence of Thielen, whose prime years are behind him, and Johnson, who has been a Panther for minutes. If I were Panthers GM Dan Morgan, my main goal would be to get the absolute most out of my first pick in this year’s draft: get the best available receiver on the board. Pairing Bryce Young with a dynamic pass-catcher becomes crucial for unlocking his full potential.

But above all, addressing the team’s needs in its interior offensive line should also be of the essence.

That’s where players like Duke’s IOL Graham Barton and Kansas State’s Cooper Beebe could become surefire targets for the Panthers to pursue.

Defensive needs also linger, especially now that Burns is gone and with Jaycee Horn’s persistent injury concerns. The team requires reinforcements across all units.

Different mock drafts conducted on various NFL draft news sites have provided insight into the Panthers’ potential draft strategy with their current draft capital. The team should address skill positions by selecting Jonathan Brooks, who is out of Texas and one of the top running back prospects in the class.

A more vital running game could alleviate pressure on Young and diversify the offensive attack while still having the team focus on landing a top receiver prospect or two. Receivers Jaxon Thrash and Bryce Williams offer high-upside options, increasing the likelihood of at least one panning out alongside second-year receiver Jonathan Mingo.

While the Panthers’ current outlook may seem bleak, a well-executed draft could kickstart a definitive turnaround. Additionally, suppose the team secures the worst record in the league once again. In that case, they will have the opportunity to select first in the 2025 NFL Draft, potentially adding another cornerstone piece to their rebuilding efforts.



Questions Of The Day

Why Don't The Panthers Have a First Round Pick In the 2024 Draft?

The Panthers traded away their first-round pick in the 2024 NFL draft to the Chicago Bears last season as part of a package to move up in the 2023 draft.

How Many Picks Do The Panthers Have In This Year's Draft?

The Panthers have a total of seven picks to work with in the 2024 NFL Draft.

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