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

The Carolina Panthers need more from these potential draft busts in 2024.
Ikem Ekwonu
Ikem Ekwonu / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages
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Jonathan Mingo - Carolina Panthers WR

  • No. 39 overall | 2023 NFL Draft

Big things were expected of Jonathan Mingo entering his rookie season. The athletically gifted wide receiver came into the Carolina Panthers at No. 39 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft. His talent received the seal of approval from quarterback Bryce Young and former team wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. This carried a ton of weight and those in power were thrilled when he fell into their laps.

Mingo didn't meet expectations in Year 1 of his professional career. He wasn't alone in that regard, but the on-field production became an ongoing frustration despite featuring in 89 percent of Carolina's offensive snaps and gaining 85 targets during the campaign.

There were route-running issues from Mingo that cannot be ignored. The former Ole Miss star hit back at his critics during an interview with Joe Person of The Athletic, but the tape doesn't lie. A huge effort is needed from the wideout this offseason to begin changing the narrative.

The physical gifts Mingo brings to the table are unquestioned. He's got the speed and length to become a difference-maker. Putting it all together has been difficult up to now, but all hope is not lost by any stretch of the imagination.

Just what sort of role Mingo will play next season is unclear. The Panthers secured the services of Pro Bowl pass-catcher Diontae Johnson via trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers. They also spent a first-round pick on Xavier Legette. Couple this with Adam Thielen sticking around, and the second-year pro is firmly cemented at No. 4 on the wide receiver depth chart currently.

There's still time for Mingo to turn things around. He should get a pass for last season given the toxic state of affairs across the franchise. That does not detract from the severe need to make improvements when competitive games commence.

Mingo seems up for the challenge and left a good impression over early offseason workouts. This is just the first step on his road to potential redemption. The receiver must keep this up throughout the summer and maximize every target coming his way during the preseason to force his way into Dave Canales' plans.

If not, then Mingo will be dangerously close to draft-bust status after just two seasons in Charlotte.