Carolina Panthers select stud wide receiver in early 2023 NFL mock draft

(Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports) Jaxon Smith-Njigba
(Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports) Jaxon Smith-Njigba /

The Carolina Panthers select promising Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba in another early 2023 NFL mock draft. 

Although the primary focus is on training camp and the ever-evolving storylines in Spartanburg, the college football season is also within touching distance. Something the Carolina Panthers scouting department will be monitoring closely before shortlisting potential candidates to come on board during the 2023 NFL Draft.

This might seem like the last thing Panthers fans want to focus on right now. Especially considering there is a quarterback competition in full swing and pads now thumping at Wofford College following the acclamation period in camp.

However, some recent changes to the scouting structure indicate that the Panthers are already planning for the next batch of recruits from the college ranks way ahead of time. But just what situation Carolina will find itself in by that point is the million-dollar question nobody has the answer to right now.

Carolina Panthers select Jaxon Smith-Njigba in early 2023 NFL mock draft

The Panthers were picking at No. 4 overall in Luke Easterling of The Draft Wire‘s latest 2023 NFL mock draft. Instead of focusing on one of the primary signal-callers, the writer projected them to roll forward with Matt Corral and get the Ole Miss product some serious help in the form of Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

Widely expected to be the best wide receiver in college football next season, Smith-Njigba would provide Corral with a dynamic one-two presence alongside D.J. Moore that could see the Panthers surge back to prominence after a long time languishing in mediocrity.

"“The Panthers might have stolen a quality starting quarterback in Matt Corral, but he could use another dynamic pass-catcher to pair with D.J. Moore. Smith-Njigba is the next elite receiver prospect to come out of Columbus, and might be the best we’ve seen in a while.”"

Smith-Njigba is an absolute stud that produced some exceptional numbers in 2021.

Catching passes from potential No. 1 overall selection C.J. Stroud obviously helps. But with 95 receptions for 1,606 receiving yards and nine touchdowns, there is just no telling what the prospect could be capable of with additional improvements this offseason.

While this would be a significant addition for Carolina, delving deeper into this scenario means it might not be all that clear-cut.

If the Panthers are picking at No. 4 overall, things have not gone well for head coach Matt Rhule in 2022. Something that could finally see team owner David Tepper end this experiment once and for all.

If a new regime takes the opportunity to get their own franchise quarterback on board, they might throw a wrench into the Panthers’ plans to move forward with Corral after an encouraging start to the team’s training camp.

At least on the face of things, this selection makes a ton of sense.

Aside from Moore, there are some serious questions for Carolina’s remaining pass-catchers to answer in 2022. Robbie Anderson could also be a salary-cap casualty with $21.71 million coming his way on the final year of his deal.

There is a lot of football to be played between now and when the time comes to focus on the draft. And there could be many alterations to Carolina’s needs, their draft standing, and what short and long-term targets might be in place following the 2022 season.

One thing that cannot be called into question is Smith-Njigba’s talent. The latest in a long line of elite wideouts with the potential to take the league by storm immediately.

Whether Carolina will be in a position to select a skill position player next spring is another matter.

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