10 draft options for the Panthers at No. 8 after Sam Darnold trade

(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) Sam Darnold
(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) Sam Darnold /
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Carolina Panthers
(Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports) Kyle Pitts /

Kyle Pitts – TE (Florida)

There is so much to like about Kyle Pitts, it’s scary. The Florida tight end has the scope to take the NFL by storm from the moment he steps onto the field and there are few prospects entering the draft who have generated more in the way of momentum in recent weeks.

The Carolina Panthers need a prolific pass-catcher at the position after Ian Thomas failed to fill the void left by Greg Olsen. Pitts is a matchup nightmare wherever he lines up and could revolutionize the tight end spot if he reaches his limitless potential.

If he is still around when Carolina is picking at No. 8, it would be a hard proposition to turn down. A passing attack of Pitts, D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, David Moore, and Christian McCaffrey would be a mouth-watering prospect for new quarterback Sam Darnold.

Jaycee Horn – CB (South Carolina)

As stated previously, the Panthers need some reinforcements at cornerback to give their young and ever-improving defense another big shot in the arm next season. Jaycee Horn might be considered a reach for some at No. 8, but there is a lot to suspect he could be a significant contributor from the word go.

Horn has the size, length, and fluidity needed to forge a successful career in the NFL. Matt Rhule got a good look at the prospect for himself at South Carolina’s pro day, where the cornerback displayed his outstanding physical attributes to full effect.

DeVonta Smith – WR (Alabama)

Taking a wide receiver early in the 2021 NFL Draft is a bit out of left-field considering needs elsewhere. But the Panthers are keen to go with the best player available rather than focus on positional groups.

This brings someone like DeVonta Smith into play if the wideout makes it this far down the pecking order. The Heisman Trophy winner was a revalation for Alabama in 2020 and despite being a little undersized for your stereotypical receiver, his elite route-running, ability to collected throws under pressure, and prowess creating yards after the catch would be a tremendous asset to call upon.