Panthers depth chart focus: Shaq Thompson leads new LB room

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson /
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Carolina Panthers
(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) Brandon Smith /

Brandon Smith – Carolina Panthers LB

Considering the uncertainty that has plagued the linebacker room over the past two seasons, it was widely speculated the Carolina Panthers could look to add a young prospect on Day 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft. That is exactly what happened when those in power moved up to take Brandon Smith at No. 120 overall.

Being one of the most athletic linebackers in this draft class, it’s clear Smith fits the profile of a Scott Fitterer draft selection. While the player had a productive career at Penn State, he also still has some untapped potential and was widely considered to be a five-star recruit and top-20 player nationally out of Mineral, Virginia.

Another one of Smith’s most enticing qualities is his positional versatility, as he played three different linebacker positions as a Nittany Lion. There was plenty to like about his production as a junior, attaining 62 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss.

It’s always important to temper expectations for Day 3 selections as they are typically viewed more as developmental prospects as opposed to immediate contributors. It will be very interesting to see where Smith falls when Carolina releases their first depth chart.

As a rookie, expect him to be used on special teams while also potentially seeing some action as a situational blitzer when the right opportunities come along. If Smith flashes in training camp and the team sustain injuries, he could receive meaningful reps a bit sooner than expected.

Related Story. The complete 2022 Carolina Panthers fantasy football guide. light