Carolina Panthers camp: 3 big questions at cornerback

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Eli Apple
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Eli Apple /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) Troy Pride Jr. /

What impact can Troy Pride Jr. make as a rookie?

It was something of a surprise that the Carolina Panthers did not allocate one of their first three selections on taking a cornerback. But they might have found some real value in the form of fourth-rounder Troy Pride Jr.

The former Notre Dame star comes with an exceptional skill set that is expected to be used from the outset. And there is plenty to like about Pride Jr.’s chances of forging a successful career at the next level.

He has elite speed that can go down the field with even the quickest NFL wide receivers. And although Pride Jr. needs some refinement in areas such as decision-making and tackling, these are both elements of his game that should improve over time.

Just what sort of impact Pride Jr. can make in his first year as a professional is up for debate. Bringing in Eli Apple was a smart move by the Panthers. And putting too much on the rookie’s shoulders might do more harm than good early on.

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That being said, there is a real opportunity for Pride Jr. to become a valuable asset immediately either in the slot or the outside. Where he is utilized will be dependent on his performance at camp. And with no preseason games for defensive coordinator Phil Snow to fully grasp what he has in the player. It is going to be a case of trial by fire.