5 Carolina Panthers rookies who could surprise people in 2022

(Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports) Arron Mosby
(Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports) Arron Mosby /
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Carolina Panthers
(Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) Brandon Smith /

Carolina Panthers. BRANDON SMITH. 4. player. 87. . LB

Brandon Smith – Carolina Panthers LB

The Carolina Panthers did not wait long on Day 3 to make another move up the draft board. Brandon Smith was the target of interest and if the athletic linebacker manages to put it all together in the not-too-distant future, this could be a tremendous move by the front office.

Smith might be a little rough around the edges. However, his physical attributes are absolutely phenomenal and this could be Carolina’s long-term answer to an ongoing problem at the second level interior since Luke Kuechly announced his shock retirement following the 2019 campaign.

Explosiveness and physicality are what make Smith’s game so great. He is a ferocious hitter that likes nothing more than blowing people up and this is matched by superb awareness in coverage to further enhance anticipation about what he can bring to the Panthers.

There is some work to do for Smith, who can find life difficult shedding blocks in the run game and will also have to refine his pass-rushing capabilities to become a true three-down threat.

The Panthers have Damien Wilson and Cory Littleton filling the void right now. That might not be the case for much longer if Smith takes on coaching well and develops problem areas of his game quickly.

Replicating Kuechly’s production is a near-impossible task for anybody. But there is nothing to suggest Smith cannot become a productive starter with additional improvements.