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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Harrison Butker - K

This one stiill stings. The Carolina Panthers spent a seventh-round selection on kicker Harrison Butker during the 2017 NFL Draft. They immediately decided the player wasn't good enough to be part of their long-term plans. Those in power at the time made a grave error in judgment.

Instead of wallowing in self-pity, Butker kept working hard and got an opportunity with the Kansas City Chiefs. To say he maximized this chance would be an understatement, providing consistent performances and clutch moments throughout his seven-year stint with the franchise so far.

He's also won three Super Bowls with potentially more to come, which continues to be a constant source of frustration for the Panthers. They went through a kicking carousel before Eddy Pineiro provided some much-needed stability. Had the decision-makers kept Butker around, things might have been different. But make no mistake, the Georgia Tech product isn't moaning about his plight by any stretch of the imagination.

Kalon Barnes - CB

Matt Rhule has a preference for targeting prospects he knew and had worked with previously. Very few played a significant role during his woeful three years as Carolina Panthers' head coach and primary decision-maker.

Kalon Barnes was another. The former Baylor star became a seventh-round selection thanks in no small part to his blistering speed. Something he displayed to full effect during a phenomenal NFL Scouting Combine performance.

Unfortunately for Barnes, he couldn't build on this positive momentum and wasn't taken through onto the 53-man roster. He's spent time on the Minnesota Vikings, Miami Dolphins, and New York Jets since his departure. Head coach Mike Tomlin saw enough in the defensive back to give him a reserve/futures contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers this offseason to see if there is some untapped potential attached.

Perhaps Rhule was expecting too much from Barnes initially. Seventh-round selections are development pieces. He should have been treated as such while putting his explosiveness to good use on special teams.