5 edge rushers Carolina Panthers must consider in the 2024 NFL Draft

The Carolina Panthers need more edge rushers.
Chris Braswell
Chris Braswell / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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Carolina Panthers could draft Xavier Thomas

Recently seen in my final mock draft, Xavier Thomas is a potential Day 3 target. First, he would be the first Clemson Tiger to be selected by the Carolina Panthers. Second, he fits and fills the pass-rush specialist role that they are seeking from the 2024 NFL Draft.

Thomas has had a long road to being an NFL hopeful. He was a five-star high school recruit and slated as the next big-time pass rusher for the Tigers as a freshman All-American. Unfortunately, injuries and lasting effects from a bout with COVID-19 have kept him from being able to chase his dreams.

However, Thomas beat the odds to become a two-time third-team All-ACC and was one of the most productive pass rushers for Clemson in 2023 as a super senior.

Thomas offers quality length and athleticism that help him fit the bill as a pass-rush specialist. He displays a baseline rush arsenal that allows him to win reps with swipes and rips to go along with the hip flexibility to bend around the apex. The prospect also displays some physicality in the run game, which may increase his ceiling. However, his rush angles and overall pad level need significant improvement and his ceiling may already be capped due to being an older prospect.

Overall, Thomas projects a rotational pass rusher who can play with his hand in the dirt or as a stand-up outside rush linebacker. 

Carolina Panthers could draft Austin Booker

This is one of my favorite pass rushers in the NFL Draft and for good reason. Ever since his impressive Senior Bowl performance, Austin Booker has been one of my guys during the pre-draft process. Despite just being a redshirt sophomore and not having a ton of starting experience during his college football tenure, the edge rusher has the ceiling to be impactful.

A former three-star high school recruit and transfer from Minnesota, Booker joined the Kansas Jayhawks and dominated from the jump. This came with accolades, winning the Big 12’s Newcomer of the Year and a first-team All-Big 12 pass rusher selection.

One of the first things you’ll notice is his small frame at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds. His play strength is certainly lacking - especially as a run defender and even as a pass rusher. Regardless, the prospect's overall skill set when attacking the quarterback is one to be excited about.

Booker is a very explosive and twitchy pass-rusher who offers ample high and ankle flexibility that will allow him to decrease surface area around the corner. His non-stop motor allows him to win his pass-rush reps on second-effort plays while also displaying impressive speed-to-power through long arms.

His range could be anywhere from the top of the third round to the middle of Day 3. Either way, Booker should be on the radar for Panthers fans.