5 greatest Carolina Panthers positions of need before 2024 NFL Draft

As the NFL Draft looms, the Carolina Panthers' depth chart has several holes that need addressing.
Tommy Tremble
Tommy Tremble / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
1 of 5

With the Carolina Panthers’ remaining salary-cap space dwindling and the 2024 NFL Draft getting close, the initial roster is starting to take shape. There is still work to do, which could arrive from the college ranks or with a productive veteran such as free-agent cornerback Stephon Gilmore before offseason workouts gather pace.

That doesn't necessarily mean the team needs to grab someone just for the sake of filling a roster spot. To put it bluntly, 2024 is probably going to be a rebuilding season. The Panthers aren't going to win the Super Bowl. It would be quite the turnaround for a team to go from 2-15 and not holding a first-round draft pick to playoff contender, but that's not to say these kinds of things haven't happened before.

Head coach Dave Canales and general manager Dan Morgan have been hard at work plugging holes that doomed the team in 2023, notably the offensive line. Still, several areas have gaping depth concerns and could be addressed in the draft or with low-cost veterans once summer cuts begin occurring.

Finding a fix that is immediately impactful is another question. Carolina has $8.97 million left in cap money for 2024, but that needs to include signing their draft class. However, this figure is looking to grow nicely next year.

As for the draft, it's well documented the team does not hold what would have been the No. 1 overall selection after trading it to the Chicago Bears for the rights to draft Bryce Young. That means they are likely going to have a quiet Day 1, barring a trade-up.

Their first pick will be No. 33 overall, then immediately again at No. 39 via the New York Giants in exchange for Brian Burns. While it is fun to imagine packaging the picks for a move into the first round, the team's lack of total selections thanks to Scott Fitterer's wheeling and dealing would make this a surprising decision were it to happen.

For Morgan to enhance perceptions about his ability to make a success of his promotion, he must figure out a way to strengthen these five positions of need during the 2024 NFL Draft.

Carolina Panthers need edge rushing help

  • Currently rostered: Amare Barno, K’Lavon Chaisson, Jadeveon Clowney, DJ Johnson, Eku Leota, Luiji Vilain, D.J. Wonnum.

Who exactly is going to put pressure on opposing teams’ quarterbacks? After all, 91 percent of the Carolina Panthers' sacks in 2023 came from players no longer on the roster.

Jadeveon Clowney is a great signing and will be a hometown favorite given his ties to South Carolina, but he cannot be expected to do it all alone. Offensive coordinators are going to have no problem scheming for this unit until a reliable option emerges opposite the former No. 1 pick.

For now, the spot will likely be filled by D.J. Wonnum, who started 14 games and tallied eight sacks along with 62 tackles in 2023 while playing for the Minnesota Vikings However, he tore his left quad in Week 17 and will need to prove he is ready to go by season's start.

Brian Burns held down the fort for two years without much assistance from the other side after the team let Haason Reddick walk, so it seems they are comfortable finding a solution in-house. A best-case scenario would be Wonnum getting healthy and emerging as another diamond in the rough much like Frankie Luvu. Unless a stellar option drops in the draft, it is looking increasingly likely the Panthers leave it to Clowney to generate much of their pressure.

One prospect to keep an eye on is Bralen Trice. His profile contains glowing reviews about his intelligence but concerns about his explosiveness and athleticism. He seems to be a better fit as a depth piece than an immediate plug-and-play, and many recent mock drafts have the Panthers looking at other positions with their first few selections.