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 got one of the best UDFA options

Every year we fall in love with one of the undrafted free agent prospects brought in who are unlikely to make the roster. Last year it was Last Chance U star Rejzohn Wright. This year it’s Holy Cross wide receiver Jalen Coker.   

Coker had a stellar career for the Holy Cross, totaling 163 receptions for 2,684 receiving yards and a school-record 31 touchdowns. The player was immense in 2023, with 59 catches for 1,035 yards and a monstrous 15 scores.

The wideout also had a good showing at the NFL Scouting Combine with his 42.5-inch vertical being the best amongst wide receiver hopefuls at the showcase event in Indianapolis.   

Many predicted Coker to be a sixth or seventh-round selection. Despite his quality college career with the Crusaders, the lack of NFL-level talent faced by the player in the Patriot League was always going to be a knock that would potentially hurt his stock. However, it was still a surprise when the gifted route-runner didn’t hear his name called.   

Coker is somewhat of a coup for the Panthers. The fact he was given a $225,000 guaranteed salary showed how highly the organization thinks of the player. Carolina has a clear top three at the wide receiver position - Diontae Johnson, Xavier Legette, and Adam Thielen - are the top guys, so there's no immediate pressure to contribute.   

However, after that, it’s less clear. Terrace Marshall Jr. is a forgotten man. Jonathon Mingo - while only in his second season - showed very little in Year 1, meaning there are positions up for grabs in the wideout room. Don’t be surprised to see Coker come in and steal someone’s job.  

After the video that was released showing him being told he was a Panthers player, how can you not root for him heading into his first offseason in an NFL environment?