Carolina Panthers: 4 protected practice squad candidates

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Branden Bowen
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Branden Bowen /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images) Stantley Thomas-Oliver III /

Carolina Panthers Player No. 1: Stantley Thomas-Oliver III – CB

The Carolina Panthers rounded off their historic all-defense draft by selecting Stantley Thomas-Oliver III in the seventh round. The cornerback comes with an intriguing skill set. And he has made a hugely impressive transition to the position after initially starting his time at Florida International as a wide receiver.

Thomas-Oliver has plenty of likable traits that can make a smooth transition to the next level over time. He anticipates things very well on the outside. And he is fluid enough to go down the field with opposing wideouts.

It doesn’t appear likely that Thomas-Oliver will be ready to play any sort of significant role with the Panthers during his rookie campaign. But all this will surely change if he takes another big step forward in a professional environment.

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Whether this is part of the 53-man roster or as a practice squad player remains to be seen. Carolina’s coaching staff might decide to go with those who have a little more know-how in an NFL environment. But Thomas-Oliver’s prospects going forward could make him a prime candidate for the protected practice squad player tag.

This might be the smart way to go for a player that boasts a tremendous amount of upside. And there is just no telling just what sort of gains he can make during his first year with the franchise.