6 potential first-round targets if the Panthers make 2022 playoffs

(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) Bijan Robinson
(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) Bijan Robinson /
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Which potential 2023 NFL Draft prospects could come into play for the Carolina Panthers if they end up making the postseason against all odds?

With the Carolina Panthers setting their sights on a shock NFC South title following a memorable win at the Seattle Seahawks, some fans are becoming increasingly concerned about what this might do to the team’s long-term strategy. Reaching the postseason would confirm Steve Wilks’ status as head coach beyond 2022, but it could also jeopardize any chance they have of solving their complex riddle at the quarterback position.

In all likelihood, the Panthers are out of the running for C.J. Stroud or Bryce Young – the consensus top two prospects emerging from the college ranks next year. Should their playoff dreams come to fruition, then it would further shift the landscape.

That’s of absolutely no concern to Wilks or his players right now. The interim always denied talk of tanking and he’s done an exceptional job of galvanizing his roster in the face of extreme adversity after Matt Rhule’s firing.

On this topic, we picked out six projected first-round prospects that come into play if Carolina wins the NFC South.

Prospect No. 1

Carolina Panthers
(Michael Caterina/Notre Dame Insider via IMAGN Content Services) Michael Mayer /

Carolina Panthers could draft Michael Mayer

  • Tight End | Notre Dame

Ian Thomas should now be considered among the league’s best blocking tight ends. However, the Carolina Panthers need a prominent pass-catcher to put alongside him and Michael Mayer is the most gifted prospect at the position entering the NFL next year.

The Notre Dame prospect has it all. His size, strength, sharp route-running, and soft hands make him a substantial threat across the middle or in red-zone situations, which the Panthers haven’t possessed since Greg Olsen was with the team.

If the Panthers make the playoffs, Mayer could be in play given that tight ends aren’t normally selected all that high based on positional importance.