5 players the Carolina Panthers could have drafted instead of Jaycee Horn in 2021

Jaycee Horn and Pat Surtain II
Jaycee Horn and Pat Surtain II / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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With news of potentially another worrying non-contact foot injury for Jaycee Horn, the spotlight shines on who the Carolina Panthers could have picked instead.

In typical Carolina Panthers fashion, things were going too well. After an offseason filled with real promise, fans were hit with potentially worrying news on Thursday morning when the team announced that star cornerback Jaycee Horn would miss the remainder of OTAs and the upcoming mandatory minicamp with a foot injury sustained during a personal workout. 

For a team with serious questions surrounding its cornerback room, seeing any news about an injury to their best option is enough to garner concern among fans. It’s important to note that Panthers expect Horn to be fully healthy for the start of camp and no surgery is required. However, a second non-contact foot injury only adds to the health problems through his first two years in the league.

There’s no doubt Horn is a top-10 player in his position when healthy, as shown in 2022. The Panthers’ road win against the Seattle Seahawks comes to mind when he did a number on star wide receiver D.K. Metcalf.

Even so, injuries have plagued the former No. 8 overall pick. After his rookie season was prematurely ended by a broken foot in Week 3, Horn missed time in 2022 with both rib and wrist ailments. 

It’s fair to say that if Carolina had Horn on the field in Week 17 at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they were likely a playoff team under Steve Wilks. Now the injury in isolation is no real issue as he is expected to miss little time, but this came just a week after pushing back on the notion he was injury prone when speaking to Joe Person of The Athletic.

It’s too early to fully question the Horn selection in 2021 as the player has shown elite qualities when on the field. The questions will start to be asked louder if he continues to miss time, especially with non-contact injuries. 

With that in mind, let’s cast our eyes back to 2021 and look at five players the Panthers could have selected instead of Horn at No. 1 overall.