Re-grading the Panthers 2021 NFL Draft class after Year No. 2

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Jaycee Horn
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Jaycee Horn /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Shi Smith /

Thomas Fletcher – Former Carolina Panthers LS

  • No. 222 overall selection

Who could forget the viral video that went around after the Carolina Panthers drafted long-snapper Thomas Fletcher? He was as surprised as the rest of us.

Draft Grade: F

Fletcher couldn’t beat out veteran J.J. Jansen over two straight summers and was released to much ridicule directed primarily in Matt Rhule’s direction. The former Alabama prospect hasn’t been in the NFL since and is about to embark on the next stage of his journey as an XFL player.

Shi Smith – Carolina Panthers WR

  • No. 202 overall selection

There was some intrigue when Shi Smith came into the Panthers as a Day 3 pick. The wide receiver showed flashes of promise at South Carolina and after taking time to transition, he made more of an impression over his sophomore campaign.

Draft Grade: C

While it remains to be seen what role Smith will have in Frank Reich’s system, he could be a serviceable backup at worst. His ability as a returner is something else that might assist if the necessary improvements are made.

Deonte Brown – Carolina Panthers OL

  • No. 193 overall selection

Deonte Brown’s all-conquering college career at Alabama is something he couldn’t bring to the NFL. Weight concerns and work ethic questions immediately surfaced, which made him a bystander as a rookie and occupying a practice squad position for most of 2022.

Draft Grade: D-

This grade is so low because the Panthers could have drafted Trey Smith instead. Although there were health concerns, his talent was obvious and something that made an instant impact from a starting role with the Kansas City Chiefs.