Which late-round wide receivers could the Carolina Panthers potentially steal when they’re on the clock in the 2021 NFL Draft?
Losing Curtis Samuel was an inevitability for the Carolina Panthers once the 2021 salary-cap reduction was confirmed. They simply didn’t have enough capital to keep the wide receiver and Taylor Moton around, with rightful preference obviously going to the team’s best edge protector by a considerable margin.
The former Ohio State star opted to sign for the Washington Football Team for a reunion with ex-head coach Ron Rivera – but whether that works out or not remains to be seen.
Samuel emerged as a big part of the offense last season, with plenty more in the way of touches coming his way following the absence of Christian McCaffrey. The Panthers still have the likes of D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson to hold down things on the outside, with the addition of David Moore from the Seattle Seahawks also set to help in the passing game for whoever is under center in 2021.
Carolina Panthers could use a late-round WR to boost depth.
The likes of Keith Kirkwood, Brandon Zylstra, and undrafted free-agent Omar Bayless are also looking to carve out a role moving forward. The signing of Micah Simon following an outstanding showing at BYU’s pro day comes with a substantial amount of intrigue.
Despite these options, it might be worth Carolina looking at another deep class of wide receivers entering the NFL this year. They’ll have to go some to top the 2020 prospects in terms of production. But there is a lot to like about finding some real value once the likes of Jaylen Waddle, Ja’Marr Chase, and DeVonta Smith are off the board.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at four late-round wideouts the Panthers might be able to steal later this month.
Wide Receiver No. 1
Shi Smith – South Carolina
The Carolina Panthers got a good look at Shi Smith during their time coaching at the 2021 Senior Bowl and Matt Rhule was also present at South Carolina’s pro day to get some additional thoughts on Gamecocks’ prospects entering the league this year.
There is plenty to like about Smith’s chances of forging a successful career at the next level. The wide receiver possesses enough explosiveness to make things happen both in terms of route-running and when in open space, which resulted in some solid production over a four-year period despite some less than stellar quarterback play.
Although he could be classed as a little undersized for an NFL receiver, Smith has fierce competitiveness that is hard not to love and could become a useful presence from the slot with additional development.