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
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Carolina Panthers need better LB depth

  • Currently rostered: Claudin Cherelus, Tae Davis, Josey Jewell, Shaq Thompson, Chandler Wooten.

Shaq Thompson and Josey Jewell should make for an excellent starting pair. The former first-round pick's role and contributions to the Carolina Panthers are well known, and he remains its second longest-tenured player after J.J. Jansen. After an injury-filled 2023 saw him miss all but two games, he agreed to a restructured contract and appears healthy and ready to go for 2024.

Jewell is a new addition from the Denver Broncos who will have big shoes to fill replacing Frankie Luvu, who left in free agency for the Washington Commanders. Ejiro Evero is a fan and helped bring out his most productive season when the two were together in 2022. This was one of the main reasons he chose to play for Carolina over other free-agent destinations.

The main issue at linebacker is depth, as everyone else on the team primarily plays special teams. Would the Panthers use draft capital to take a long-term option, or find some backups and leave the matter for next year? Carolina has more pressing needs early on, but some talented options could fall into the second round.

One such name to watch is Texas A&M's Edgerrin Cooper, who was recently highlighted as a potential option by Joe Person from The Athletic.

"Linebacker isn’t an immediate need for the Panthers. It wasn’t in 2015 either, but Dave Gettleman still took Shaq Thompson in the first round as a future successor to Thomas Davis. But as of Sunday, Thompson is now 30 and it’s probably wise to start thinking about drafting his replacement.

"Enter Cooper, who reportedly visited the Panthers after leading the Aggies in tackles, tackles for loss, sacks and forced fumbles. He’s the only player in this draft class who led his team in all those categories, per [Dane] Brugler. That sounds like someone who has a nose for the football (a la the departed Frankie Luvu) and can help in the takeaway department."

It is undeniable the Panthers have more pressing priorities, but this is where a rebuilding year could be at its most advantageous. At the cost of another position's strength in 2024, they could bring in an impact player who will have the chance to learn from Thompson for a season or two before taking over as one of the faces of the defense.