5 Carolina Panthers players who could enter draft bust status in 2024

The Carolina Panthers need more from these potential draft busts in 2024.
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The Carolina Panthers haven't enjoyed much luck on the draft front in recent seasons. Scott Fitterer couldn't successfully evaluate talent and became reactionary in the war room. That's always a dangerous combination and the previous general manager paid with his job.

It wasn't the greatest environment for any young player to thrive in 2023. Most holding prominent positions within the Panthers were firmly in self-preservation mode. The cracks began to show relatively early in the campaign. Thankfully, there seems to be more purpose and direction with Dan Morgan leading the front office.

Morgan and head coach Dave Canales have no sentimental attachment to their decision-making process. This raises the stakes for everyone - whether they were high-end draft selections or those taken much further down the pecking order. Everyone is starting with a clean slate and everyone will be assessed the same.

With this in mind, here are five Panthers players who could enter the dreaded draft bust status in 2024.

D.J. Johnson - Carolina Panthers OLB

  • No. 80 overall | 2023 NFL Draft

What constitutes a draft bust? We're basing it off someone taken in the top 100 selections who failed to meet expectations. Some Carolina Panthers players are already at that point. Others have a chance to change the narrative under the new regime.

D.J. Johnson is a prospect with his long-term aspirations hanging in the balance. Eyebrows were raised around the league when Carolina traded up for the edge rusher at No. 80 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft. We found out later that it was a panic move from previous general manager Scott Fitterer when prospects at the desired spot began falling off his board.

Johnson struggled to adapt and was brought along gradually by the Panthers. There were brief flashes when it came to setting the edge on running downs. His lack of productivity as a pass-rusher when called upon was deeply concerning.

The Panthers don't have the greatest depth at edge rusher behind projected starters Jadeveon Clowney and D.J. Wonnum. Johnson has an opportunity to firmly establish himself as a core rotational piece and got plenty of reps over early offseason workouts. Whether the former Oregon star can accomplish this at almost 26 years old entering Year 2 is another matter.

Anything less would see him firmly entering draft bust status - especially considering Carolina sacrificed additional capital to attain his services.