5 second-round 2023 NFL Draft prospects the Panthers could target

(Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports) Felix Anudike-Uzomah
(Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports) Felix Anudike-Uzomah /
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Carolina Panthers
(Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports) Emmanuel Forbes /

Carolina Panthers could draft Emmanuel Forbes

  • Cornerback | Mississippi State Bulldogs

Picking another cornerback high up the pecking order might be seen as a sideways step by the Carolina Panthers. They’ve invested a significant amount in the position over recent years, but one cannot look at their options right now with any confidence outside of Jaycee Horn heading into 2023.

Donte Jackson will likely miss a large part of the season after tearing his Achilles. C.J. Henderson and Keith Taylor Jr. were lackluster at best when prominent starting reps came their way, so acquiring further reinforcements is a must if new defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero wants to hit the ground running.

If Emmanuel Forbes is still on the board at No. 40 overall – providing the Panthers don’t trade that pick to move up from No. 9 – then a serious discussion must be had. The Mississippi State product became one of college football’s most opportunistic cornerbacks in 2022 and has the physical traits associated with modern-day players at the position.

Forbes is athletic, has the length to keep opposing wide receivers in front of him, and also has more than enough speed to track them downfield. Adding more bulk to his frame would help – especially when it comes to defending the run – but this is a prospect of immense promise who’s going to generate significant interest when the time comes.

There’s every chance Forbes becomes a first-round pick. But the Panthers should not hesitate if he’s still around early in Round 2.