7 NFL Draft picks the Carolina Panthers gave up on too soon

What might have been..
Harrison Butker
Harrison Butker / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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The Carolina Panthers have an indifferent draft history in recent years. Those in power previously couldn't properly evaluate or develop talent emerging from the college ranks. That's a dangerous combination and a big reason why the franchise is currently perceived as the NFL's laughingstock.

There's hope Dan Morgan and Dave Canales can change all that. There seems to be more professionalism in the way this regime is going about its business. This all has to come together on the field, but things could be looking up if everything goes according to plan throughout a pivotal preparation period.

Morgan is working without a first-round selection, but all hope is not lost. The Panthers have a plan in place for long-term prosperity that starts with the front-office leader building through the draft. But after so many false promises and delusional predictions in recent years, talk is cheap and doesn't wash with the team's disillusioned fanbase.

Looking back, here are seven draft picks throughout franchise history that the Panthers gave up on too soon.

Draft picks the Carolina Panthers gave up on too soon

Brandon Smith - LB

This might be a personal opinion, but Brandon Smith wasn't given a fair shake. The former fourth-round selection had every athletic attribute imaginable to be a decent piece for the Carolina Panthers. But even when injuries befell the linebacking corps, they were reluctant to provide him with any prolonged opportunity.

Smith played just seven percent of defensive snaps as a rookie in 2022 and the new coaching staff led by Frank Reich didn't take him onto their 53-man roster. He was quickly snapped up by the Philadelphia Eagles, who used him on special teams while working on problem areas of his game last season.

The Penn State product did enough to get another reserve/futures deal from the Eagles in the hope more is on the way performance-wise. Had the Panthers been more patient, Smith might still be around.