5 return specialists the Panthers could pick in the 2021 NFL Draft
Ihmir Smith-Marsette – WR (Iowa)
Likely the least-known player of the bunch, Ihmir Smith-Marsette would be a great addition to the Carolina Panthers. He does not fit the mold of the small slot receiver type like the previously mentioned players, but he brings the same value as a returner.
The 6-foot-1,180 pound Smith-Marsette has blistering speed and elite open-field vision. In Year 2 at Iowa, he was the Big 10 return specialist of the year and the most valuable special teams player in the conference with three return touchdowns and more throughout his college career.
With a slight frame, Smith-Marsette is not the strongest player. But his sharp cuts and ability to make people miss makes up for it in the return game.
He is projected to go much later on Day 3 as he is a very raw prospect and potentially could be picked up as an undrafted free agent. Smith-Marsette would be a great pickup for the Panthers and would add to the receiving room as well as becoming the team’s punt and kick returner
Jevon Holland CB/S – Oregon
The one and only defensive player on this list is Canada’s very own Jevon Holland. He was a very prolific returner during his time at Oregon on top of being one of their most important players in Mario Cristobal’s defense.
Holland is big at 6-foot-1 and 207 pounds as well as being very fast with a reported 4.46-second 40-yard dash during his 2021 pro day. He was a high school receiver and shows these ball-carrier skills in the return game.
The prospect acted primarily as a punt returner for the Ducks and did it very well. He has speed and can contribute immediately in this area for the Carolina Panthers.
Holland played nickel corner, big nickel and safety for Oregon and fits the bill of versatility the Panthers like in their prospects. He opted out of the 2020 college football season but showed enough to be considered a second-round pick.
Not only would he make sense on defense for the Panthers. But Holland would be a great addition to Carolina’s special teams as a returner.