4 major observations from Carolina Panthers 2023 rookie minicamp

Bryce Young
Bryce Young / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers saw urgency from D.J. Johnson

There's no doubt the selection that provoked the most debate was trading up for D.J. Johnson at No. 80 overall. This is the sort of athletic prospect normally coveted by Carolina Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer, but the six-year college player was seen as a reach given his initial projections as a Day 3 talent.

The Panthers clearly saw something in Johnson despite his age and relative lack of experience as an edge rusher. And with pass-rushing prospects on their board falling rapidly, those in power felt like it was a risk worth taking.

Johnson signed his rookie contract before the start of Carolina's minicamp. More importantly, the attitude and level of urgency he brought to practice caught the eye in no uncertain terms.

The former Oregon star showcased his explosiveness, quick-twitch capabilities, and heavy hands during drills. When speaking about working with such a progressive defensive mind in Ejiro Evero via the team's website, Johnson was confident the relationship will ensure he continues to blossom moving forward.

"He's an intense guy. But he's still light enough to where he enjoys it. Great to be around. I'm excited to be coached by him."

D.J. Johnson via Panthers.com

Many remain critical of the pick, and that's fine. But don't be surprised if Johnson silences his doubters much sooner than anticipated.