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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Tyrone Poole - CB

Tyrone Poole was a first-round pick during the Carolina Panthers' expansion year. He played three seasons for the franchise, but those in power decided they could better production elsewhere, and the defensive back left with very little fanfare attached.

This was a mistake. The talented cornerback went on the play eight more seasons in the league and won two Super Bowls. Poole's coverage credentials were first-class and his evolution into a respected locker-room leader also played a significant role in his success after the Panthers made him surplus to requirements.

There is no doubt the Panthers gave up on Poole too soon. Not that the player was complaining too much when one considers the established organization he went to after departing Charlotte - namely the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots.

Matt Corral - QB

Matt Corral's tale is incredibly sad. The Carolina Panthers traded up to acquire the quarterback at No. 94 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. This was seen as a potential long-term solution to an ongoing complication under Matt Rhule and Scott Fitterer. Unfortunately, they didn't have a legitimate plan in place.

Fitterer and Rhule were looking to improve their job security. They already had Sam Darnold, which was a trade gamble that didn't pay dividends. Soon after moving up for Corral, those in power also decided to take a chance on Baker Mayfield. This flurry of quarterback activity reeked of instability and panic from a duo who weren't cut out to run a professional football operation.

Corral was reduced to third string and his reps were limited throughout his critical offseason transition. Things got even worse after, with the Ole Miss product suffering a Lisfranc foot injury during the preseason that ruled him out for the entire campaign.

By the time Corral was ready to return, the Panthers had signed veteran free-agent Andy Dalton and traded up for Bryce Young. The new regime cut the cord entirely, allowing the signal-caller to sign for the New England Patriots.

This took a toll on Corral's mental health. He walked away from football briefly and is now on the road to redemption as a UFL star. Judging by his efforts to kick off the campaign, it won't be long before an NFL team comes calling.

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