4 Panthers players on the roster bubble after the 2021 NFL Draft

(Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports) Stantley Thomas-Oliver
(Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports) Stantley Thomas-Oliver /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Stantley Thomas-Oliver /

Stantley Thomas-Oliver III – Carolina Panthers CB

The Carolina Panthers clearly needed help at the cornerback position. This wasn’t the strongest unit last season and with the duo of Rasul Douglas and Corn Elder heading out of the door, far more than free-agent signing A.J. Bouye was needed moving forward.

This is something Carolina wasted no time addressing during the 2021 NFL Draft. They took South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn at No. 8 and also got themselves another prospect who thrives in press coverage situations by picking up Keith Taylor out of Washington in Round 5.

Their arrivals mean the pressure is on for Stantley Thomas-Oliver III to show the progression needed to earn a bigger role next season. The seventh-round pick was allowed to develop at his own pace during his rookie campaign and showed some promise when he saw the field outside of getting schooled by Justin Jefferson during Carolina’s narrow loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

The NFL is an unforgiving place and has no time for players who don’t show growth from Year 1 to Year 2. The jury is still well and truly out as to whether Thomas-Oliver can become a productive starter and if he is outperformed by Horn and Taylor during training camp, it might see the Panthers cut their losses with the former Florida International star.

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Carolina will also be keeping a close eye on Troy Pride Jr., a fourth-round pick out of Notre Dame who went through some significant complications in 2020.