Carolina Panthers 7-round 2023 NFL mock draft: Preaching patience

(Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports) Kyu Blu Kelly
(Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports) Kyu Blu Kelly /
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Carolina Panthers
(Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports) Kyu Blu Kelly /

Carolina Panthers select Kyu Blu Kelly

  • Cornerback | Stanford Cardinals

Considering the cornerback position was expected to be among the strongest positional groups in 2022, it ended up being a disappointment overall. Jaycee Horn’s emergence into a true shutdown presence is cause for encouragement, but Donte Jackson’s ongoing injury problems coupled with C.J. Henderson and Keith Taylor Jr.’s inconsistency means more might be needed next time around.

Perhaps adding a proven veteran in free agency would be worth its weight in gold. If the Panthers decide to allocate their precious funds elsewhere, then picking up an athletic cornerback with promise during the draft is another option.

Kyu Blu Kelly is an intriguing prospect, to put it mildly. The defensive back’s tackling and high energy came across in bundles during his time at Stanford, with his technical prowess in press coverage something that NFL teams covet heavily in the modern-day world where passing the football is king.

Kelly has the speed to go downfield with opposing wide receivers and possesses the ball skills to make big plays when opportunities arise. There is work to do in terms of zone recognition, footwork, and discipline, but this is a player that could immediately slot onto a rotation providing his transition to the pros goes off without a hitch.

Carolina should examine Kelly closely throughout their upcoming evaluations. And this might be a steal at this stage of the draft.