5 linebacker draft prospects the Carolina Panthers must consider in 2024

Could Dan Morgan add another dominant defensive second-level presence?
Payton Wilson
Payton Wilson / Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports
1 of 3

Dan Morgan has done more so far this offseason than most Carolina Panthers fans probably expected. Let's see how the new general manager and his front office staff can facilitate their first NFL Draft as the primary decision-maker. 

Panthers fans should not be surprised if linebacker becomes a position that is selected at some point during the draft. The starters are potentially already on the roster. Shaq Thompson - the team's second-longest tenured player and the undisputed locker room leader - is coming off of a season-ending fractured fibula but should be all systems go by Week 1. 

Starting next to Thompson will most likely be Josey Jewell. He was added this offseason via free agency and has ties to defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero from their time together with the Denver Broncos. 

The other inside linebackers on the roster currently include Chandler Wooten, Claudin Cherelus, and Tae Davis. Wooten gave the Panthers some defensive snaps last season due to injuries, but for the most part, these players are mainly special teams or backup options. 

The Panthers could add some depth in free agency before training camp, but the team could also opt to select an inside linebacker in the upcoming draft. Some of these prospects would potentially be first-round possibilities if they emerged from the college ranks a decade ago, but it seems the league doesn’t quite value the position like it once did. 

Look for these five prospects to get picked between the second and fifth rounds of the upcoming draft.

Carolina Panthers could draft Payton Wilson

Payton Wilson seems to be the fan favorite if the team were to select an inside linebacker in the upcoming draft. Fans seem to think that he has shown flashes of Luke Kuechly during his college days at North Carolina State. 

If Wilson could emulate half of what Kuechly accomplished, he would carve out a nice career for himself. Last season with the Wolfpack, he tallied 138 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, three interceptions and a touchdown. 

Wilson has a ton of athleticism and displayed that at the NFL Scouting Combine where he posted a 4.43-second time in the 40-yard dash. He flies around the field and has proven capable of creating turnovers. 

One downside to Wilson is that when the season begins he will be a 24-year-old rookie. It’s not the worst thing, but Carolina Panthers fans know all too well that the shelf life for an inside linebacker isn’t too long. 

Another concern for Wilson is that he’s suffered a couple of serious knee injuries and a season-ending shoulder complication sustained during his junior campaign. If the prospect can stay on the field and avoid any further health problems, he should be a solid starting linebacker in this league from Day 1.

It could be unlikely due to needs at wide receiver, but Wilson is a player that the Panthers could consider in the second or third round.