5 return specialists the Panthers could pick in the 2021 NFL Draft

David Giroux
(Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports) Demetric Felton
(Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports) Demetric Felton /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) Matt Rhule /

Which return specialists could the Carolina Panthers potentially look to pick during the 2021 NFL Draft this week?

Ever since the departure of the scrutinized yet electric receiver/return man Ted Ginn Jr in 2017, the Carolina Panthers kick and punt return game has been somewhat of a revolving door. Damiere Byrd, Kenjon Barner, and Ray-Ray McCloud are some names fans might remember throughout the past five years who have tried their hand at securing the long-term returner spot, without ever quite doing enough to secure the role.

Most recently, Pharoh Cooper was the team’s primary kick/punt returner last season before losing his spot to Trenton Cannon mid-way through the 2020 campaign. The return game has been inconsistent to put it nicely, with fumbles and poor field position plaguing the Panthers in recent years.

Carolina Panthers must find their long-term returner in the draft.

With Cooper leaving and Cannon being far from a lock to make the roster in the fall, it is time that new general manager Scott Fitterer finally finds a long-term kick and punt returner for the Panthers. Having made no moves to address this area in free agency, it would be logical for Carolina to address this need in the draft.

Keep in mind, this list ignores players such as DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, and Kadarius Toney. All three are great returners but projected to go early in the first round and most likely not options for the Panthers on Day 1.

So, here are five options in this year’s draft I think the Panthers should take a look at.