4 tight end prospects the Carolina Panthers could draft in 2024

The Carolina Panthers need another tigt end.
Jaheim Bell
Jaheim Bell / Alicia Devine-USA TODAY Sports
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Carolina Panthers could draft Cade Stover

A former four-star high school recruit, Cade Stover lands as TE3 for my rankings. The prospect played in a high-octane offense with the Ohio State Buckeyes and still managed to carve out a nice role for himself in his final two seasons, totaling 77 catches, 982 receiving yards, and 10 touchdowns between 2022-23.

The area that Stover will need to continue to progress to become an impact starter at the next level is his blocking prowess. He can play with a slightly elevated pad level in run blocking and didn’t seem to be as consistently willing as you’d prefer. He does have a full frame and decent mass to be able to withstand the physicality of that aspect, but it’s more a matter of buying into it being necessary.

While acknowledging that critique, Stover brings a lot to like regarding his contribution to the passing game. At 6-foot-4 and 247 pounds, the former Buckeye has adequate strength and athleticism. Not elite in terms of his release off the line of scrimmage, Stover can find success against both man and zone coverages. He shows good field awareness in zone situations, finding the soft spots and presenting a target for his quarterback.

Stover also has strong hands at the catch point. He made a handful of receptions with a high level of difficulty. He had some drops but they appeared to be more focus-based than technically concerning.

Focus drops can be addressed. Many times, it appeared he was thinking a step too far ahead, planning his RAC attack before completing the catch. This is also a strong suit as he’s not the type to shy away from contact.

Carolina Panthers could draft Theo Johnson

Going along right in order thus far, my TE4 is Theo Johnson. He is the epitome of a traits prospect at 6-foot-6 and 259 pounds.

Johnson is an incredible athlete, scoring a 9.93 Relative Athletic Score for the position, on the shoulders of his 4.57-second 40-yard dash, 39.5-inch vertical jump, and the rest of his measurables. Unfortunately, those explosive testing results show up through the game film.

He wasn’t tasked with being an involved party to a dynamic offense at Penn State. Where he showed up the most in the passing game was as a red-zone weapon. And that makes a lot of sense, given his Jimmy Graham-esque physical profile and skill set.

Johnson's wide catch radius and leaping ability allow him to offer his quarterback a unique target in those instances. He did show a bit of agility and lateral movement that could lead to an extended role in the NFL, but it will take work and development to be able to feel comfortable about his outlook in the short and intermediate levels.

There will be considerable work to be done for him as a blocker. As mentioned earlier, he didn’t show that 40-yard dash speed on film along with the rest of his testing parallels, so it’s tough to project him as a player who will be split out wide or aligned in the slot very often. Johnson's most likely alignment is in-line but that will require him to be a better run blocker than he was in college.