4 biggest Carolina Panthers surprises from the 2024 NFL Draft

There were a few shocks along the way.
Dan Morgan
Dan Morgan / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
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Carolina Panthers did not address the center position

One of the biggest questions heading into the 2024 NFL Draft cycle was what the Carolina Panthers would potentially do at the center position. After the surprise release of popular veteran Bradley Bozeman, the team had a large hole in the spot, which has the scope to become a weak link if not solved correctly.

The Panthers seem to be putting their trust in Austin Corbett heading into the 2024 season. However, his lack of experience coupled with injury concerns means this gamble could go either way.

This was a talented crop of center prospects at the top of the draft. The likes of Graham Barton, Jackson Powers-Johnson, and Zach Frazier were all likely Day 1 starters. And while only the former Duke standout went in Round 1 - pick No. 26 overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers - the other two linemen were still available to begin Day 2.  

But the Panthers went in a different direction, as Powers-Johnson was drafted No. 44 overall to the Las Vegas Raiders, and Frazier was selected at No. 51 overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Even in the later rounds, someone such as Wisconsin's Tanor Bortoloni - who would have been more of a long-term option - was passed up by general manager Dan Morgan.  

Head coach Dave Canales said the plan was to have both Corbett and Brady Christensen work at the center spot throughout Carolina's upcoming preparations for the 2024 campaign. It’s important to remember that these are two players who have suffered back-to-back season-ending injuries, so there is a significant amount of risk attached to this approach.

One can hope that being a solid veteran, Corbett can stay healthy and do a solid job in a temporary role. But it would be a surprise if, during the 2025 NFL Draft, the Panthers weren’t looking for a long-term option with one of their early selections.