5 Carolina Panthers under-threat who should survive early cuts

(Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images) Jordan Mack
(Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images) Jordan Mack /
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Rodney Smith, Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Rodney Smith /

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Carolina Panthers Player No. 1: Rodney Smith (RB)

The Carolina Panthers have their No. 1 running back for the foreseeable furute in Christian McCaffrey. The All-Pro is the new face of the franchise after an incredible start to his career that saw the former first-round pick get a four-year, $64 million deal with a $21 million signing bonus and $38 million guaranteed this offseason.

There is plenty of competition for places behind McCaffrey. Reggie Bonnafon is the current favorite to win the primary backup role. But plenty of others will be snapping at his heels in a bid to see some minutes on the field.

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This number should come down with the early roster cuts. And although undrafted free-agent Rodney Smith finds himself in the firing line. The Panthers should give him a shot for the duration.

Smith didn’t hear his name called in the 2020 NFL Draft despite becoming Minnesota’s all-time rushing leader in college. He accumulated 5,441 career all-purpose yards, 29 touchdowns, and 4,122 rushing yards. So it was somewhat surprising that a team didn’t take a chance on him with a late flyer.

The back is not the most explosive with the ball in his hands. But what Smith does have going for him is a patient, intelligent running style that could make a smooth transition to the NFL.

He won’t get the chance to showcase this during preseason games, which is a blow. However, Carolina’s coaching staff will no doubt like what they see from the player during team drills.