Could Tyjae Spears become 2023 NFL Draft wildcard for the Panthers?

(Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports) Tyjae Spears
(Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports) Tyjae Spears /

Could promising running back Tyjae Spears become a wildcard selection to spark the Carolina Panthers during the 2023 NFL Draft?

While the primary focus was Frank Reich’s introductory press conference, Carolina Panthers scouts had a keen eye on developments at the 2023 Senior Bowl. This is one of the premier assessment events ahead of the NFL Draft, with hopefuls testing their skills against one another in practice and during the game itself to boost hopes of entering the next level.

Scott Fitterer now has the final say on personnel as the Panthers adopt a more traditional approach in the wake of Matt Rhule’s dismissal. The general manager is renowned for having a keen eye for college talent, so hopes are high that this can be a strong draft considering the abundance of selections Carolina has in the top 150 this year.

These picks could diminish if the Panthers decide to move up for their franchise quarterback of choice. In this scenario, Fitterer and his staff must surround a new signal-caller from the college ranks with enough firepower to smooth the transition.

Tyjae Spears should have the Carolina Panthers’ attention

Carolina’s worked hard to build their defense and offensive line in recent offseasons. The task now is to upgrade every aspect of the offense under a head coach who specializes in this critical area of NFL play.

The more impact players at the skill positions Reich has, the better. And one caught the eye more than most throughout the week’s festivities in Mobile, Alabama.

Tyjae Spears put together an exceptional Senior Bowl showing. His dynamic athleticism came across in no uncertain terms during drills and this was matched by an encouraging game-day performance when touches came his way.

The running back is riding on the crest of a wave after a phenomenal final college campaign. Spears was the catalyst behind Tulane’s major improvements on offense, rushing for 1,581 yards and 19 touchdowns to go along with 256 receiving yards and two scores.

Spears has traits that cannot be taught. He is explosive, sharp, and savvy out of his cuts in the passing game. These skills are easily transferable and something every team looks for to boost options on offense.

While there are improvements needed – especially in pass protection – Spears has a tremendous amount going for him and is getting hot at the right time. Something that’s seen his stock soar along the way.

This is a prime example of why events like the Senior Bowl are so important. Spears is now firmly on the radar of even the most casual fan, which can only mean good things for his chances of becoming a potential top-50 selection when the time comes.

Carolina should have Spears on their shortlist. Having a gadget weapon like this adds an extra dimension to the offense, which reeked of predictability and was extremely one-dimensional with Ben McAdoo calling plays in 2022.

It’s unlikely Spears could become a lead running back immediately. But if the Panthers move forward with their committee approach that proved so successful under Steve Wilks, he’s a definite option once other more pressing needs are solved.

Adding Spears to an offense that already has D.J. Moore would give opposing defenses nightmares. Whether the Panthers take the plunge rather than fixing other key areas is another matter.

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