Carolina Panthers 5-round 2024 NFL mock draft: Spending wisely edition

The Carolina Panthers need to make every draft pick count in 2024.

Ricky Pearsall
Ricky Pearsall / Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun / USA
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Carolina Panthers draft Xavier Thomas

  • Edge Rusher | Clemson Tigers
  • Round No. 5 | No. 164 overall

The big contractual talking point where the Carolina Panthers are concerned heading into free agency centers on Brian Burns. All signs point to the star edge rusher receiving the franchise tag to prevent him from speaking with other teams. Hopefully, this can lead to a long-term extension as Dan Morgan looks to impose an ethos of keeping the team's best players around.

Even if Burns stays as expected, the Panthers could use some extra assistance in getting after the quarterback. Yetur Gross-Matos made encouraging progress under Ejiro Evero's guidance last season, but he's also a free agent with his future hanging in the balance.

Xavier Thomas comes to the NFL with bags of experience. He was a six-year player at Clemson and flashed genuine qualities on occasion. The prospect didn't set the world alight by any stretch of the imagination, but his athletic attributes make him a gamble potentially worth taking at this stage of the draft.

One thing that stands out when watching Thomas is his explosive first step. He's incredibly quick off the block and can blow past opposing offensive linemen at will when in the mood. However, some red flags cannot be ignored.

Thomas is sometimes a liability against the run. Despite his college experience, he's a little rough around the edges from a technical standpoint. One could also make a case for this pick being similar to Carolina's decision to trade up for D.J. Johnson last year. That alone might be enough to put off the new regime.