3 NFL Draft decisions the Carolina Panthers might regret in 2024

Could the Carolina Panthers live to regret these draft decisions?
Dan Morgan
Dan Morgan / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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Carolina Panthers didn't take a cornerback until Round 5

The Carolina Panthers have invested heavily in the offensive side of the football this offseason. Those in power couldn't let quarterback Bryce Young go through the same complications he endured as a rookie. They made a hefty investment in the signal-caller, so surrounding him with more productive protection and playmakers was essential to give the Heisman Trophy winner out of Alabama a fighting chance.

This trend continued during the 2024 NFL Draft. Three of the Panthers' opening four selections came on offense. Dan Morgan is hoping defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero and his accomplished staff can do more with less. It's a gamble, but one they felt was necessary after Young's rookie turmoil.

As a result, the Panthers didn't select a cornerback until Round 5 of the draft when Chau Smith-Wade came into the fold. The Washington State product could be a nice development piece and special teams' presence, but asking him to assume significant responsibilities right out of the gate is asking for trouble.

Smith-Wade has some nice traits, but the prospect is dangerously undersized and could become overwhelmed if tasked with outside coverage responsibilities. Evero will have a plan for the rookie during his initial transition, but the Panthers are desperately short of reliable cornerback options looking at the depth chart as it stands.

Dane Jackson and Troy Hill seem to be situational pieces who could help, but there's just no telling for sure. Jaycee Horn is an absolute stud when fit and firing on all cylinders. However, the former first-round pick isn't the most reliable health-wise, so any further issues are going to be catastrophic for this secondary in pursuit of progression next season.

The Panthers passed several times in some outstanding cornerback prospects earlier in the draft before settling on Smith-Wade. This remains an overlooked complication, although there's still time for that to change if Stephon Gilmore returns or Carolina scoops up someone off the waiver wire throughout the summer.