Panthers 7-round 2023 NFL mock draft: Making moves in Round 1

(Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports) Isaiah Foskey
(Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports) Isaiah Foskey /
7 of 7
Carolina Panthers
(Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports) Tyjae Spears /

Carolina Panthers select Tyjae Spears

  • Running back | Tulane Green Wave

After trading Christian McCaffrey, the Carolina Panthers enjoyed plenty of success with the ground game thanks to breakout years from D’Onta Foreman and Chuba Hubbard. Even so, the team needs to be prepared for the possibility that the former could walk in free agency, leaving a good-sized hole at running back.

The free agent market and draft class at the position, like the tight end options, is stacked with talent and the front office should not feel pressured to pursue the position in one singular area. In this mock draft, however, Carolina gets a potential Day 2 running back in the fifth round.

After the week he had at the Senior Bowl, Tyjae Spears could be one of the first running back prospects off the board. The Tulane product rushed for more than 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns for the Green Wave in 2022, and a standout performance in Mobile only increased his stock.

If Spears has another strong weekend at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, the Panthers might have to take him much higher than this if they identify the do-it-all weapon as a primary target.

Spears is the definition of an explosive runner who will use his second-level acceleration and high-level burst to blow by defenders and break tackle angles in the run game. The redshirt junior also offers a great combination of vision, contact balance, and flashes of passing-down skills that could make him a three-down back at the next level.

Must Read. 4 Carolina Panthers players who desperately need to develop in 2023. light