Carolina Panthers 53-man 2024 roster projection: Sizzling summer edition

Things are becoming clearer after early workouts.
Dave Canales
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Carolina Panthers safeties (5)

  • Xavier Woods, Jordan Fuller, Sam Franklin Jr., Nick Scott, Jammie Robinson.

The Carolina Panthers don’t have a ton of true strengths on their roster. However, its safety group has remained as such for the last couple of seasons.

Xavier Woods is the headliner of the room. He enters 2024 coming off one of the best seasons of his career, making the former Dallas Cowboys defensive back one of the better players at his position.

Losing Vonn Bell could sting. Dan Morgan chose to go with a long-term financial flexibility plan for short-term loss, signing Jordan Fuller to an incentive-laced one-year deal. The veteran could cash in big if he turns in another strong campaign in a reunion with Ejiro Evero. Behind Woods and the former late-round selection are quality backups and special teams players in Sam Franklin Jr. and Nick Scott.

Franklin re-signed with Carolina this offseason and is one of the better pure special teams players in the league. He has also been serviceable in spot starts as a single-high safety. Scott plays in a similar style to Fuller. Still, he will see playing time on kickoff and punt coverages.

As for Jammie Robinson, he rounds out the safety room as their true “big” nickel. There will be competition between him and some other defensive backs this summer.

Carolina Panthers CBs (6)

  • Jaycee Horn, Dane Jackson, Troy Hill, Chau Smith-Wade, D’Shawn Jamison, Dicaprio Bootle.

One of the most impressive things from last season was how well the cornerback room played without Jaycee Horn and Donte Jackson for most of the campaign. D’Shawn Jamison and Dicaprio Bootle offered serviceable and disciplined play in the secondary and should be seen as depth pieces this season.

Troy Hill is expected to be the starting nickel after a quality 2023 campaign. However, the veteran could see more competition from fifth-round selection Chau Smith-Wade during training camp.

Dane Jackson is the newest veteran addition to the room after signing a two-year, $14.5 million contract. He isn’t your ideal No. 2 cornerback. Yet, his highs show a keen perimeter presence with adequate skills in press-man coverage.

Jackson is a player who can tackle from depth. He’s certainly a serviceable playmaker who would be No. 3 or No. 4 on most teams.

Then there is the biggest wild card.

Horn enters his fourth season having yet to play more than 13 games in a single year. When healthy, he has the talent to be the best player on the roster due to his stoutness in any coverage, football IQ, and excellent ball skills. But talent has never been the issue with the former South Carolina star.

If Horn were to miss any games this season, this isn’t a great unit. The hope heading into training camp is that Carolina adds another veteran cornerback to shore up an overall below-average room.

Carolina Panthers LBs (9)

  • Shaq Thompson, Josey Jewell, Jadeveon Clowney, D.J. Wonnum, Trevin Wallace, Claudin Cherelus, D.J. Johnson, Michael Barrett, Eku Leota.

Following the losses of Brian Burns and Frankie Luvu, Dan Morgan got to work making additions to the second level of his defense. Coming off a career year, pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney returns to the region for the first time since his college days at South Carolina.

Linebacker Josey Jewell, who had a career year under Ejiro Evero in 2022, signed a two-year deal this offseason. This fit looks seamless as a true two-down linebacker with occasional spot zone drops.

The Panthers also signed pass rusher D.J. Wonnum to work opposite Clowney. D.J. Johnson looks to have a bigger role this season after somewhat of a redshirt season as a rookie.

Eku Leota is my pick from the list of bubble players to make the 53-man roster due to potential progression, including adding more muscle and mass to his frame. The former three-star high school recruit from Asheville flashed some long arms and rush combinations that proved effective at times during the team’s lowly season. 

Behind 10th-year veteran Shaq Thompson and Jewell is third-round selection Trevin Wallace, slated as the future at the position. The Kentucky product should see playing time as a third-down linebacker where he can use his athleticism in coverage and as a blitzer in simulated pressures.

Claudin Cherelus and Michael Barrett will be depth and assets on special teams. However, they could be pushed into the spotlight should something transpire with the current starters.