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

Things are becoming clearer after early workouts.
Dave Canales
Dave Canales / Jacob Kupferman/GettyImages
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Carolina Panthers WRs (6)

  • Diontae Johnson, Adam Thielen, Xavier Legette, Jonathan Mingo, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Terrace Marshall Jr.

The contrast from last year’s wide receiver group to this year’s is incredible. Dan Morgan was set to release cornerback Donte Jackson before flipping him and a Day 3 pick swap into former Pro Bowler Diontae Johnson, one of the best pure route runners and separators in the league.

Dave Canales and offensive coordinator Brad Idizk see him as the team’s “X” receiver. Johnson will likely command the most targets this season for the Carolina Panthers.

However, the future “X” on the team is first-round selection Xavier Legette. His size, explosiveness, ball skills, and run-after-catch ability make him a terrific Z option heading into the season. Veteran wide receiver Adam Thielen, who led the Panthers in catches and receiving yards in 2023, will be the starting slot option and remain a focal point for quarterback Bryce Young.

Behind the projected “Big Three” receivers is second-year playmaker Jonathan Mingo, who will have a role as a rotational player at any one of the spots. The Ole Miss product must take the opportunity to produce when presented with targets.

Ihmir Smith-Marsette should return as a gadget role-player. I’m currently projecting Terrace Marshall Jr. to make the 53-man roster over undrafted free agent Jalen Coker, as his skill set could be something that may finally intrigue this new coaching staff. 

Carolina Panthers RBs (3)

  • Chuba Hubbard, Miles Sanders, Jonathon Brooks

One of the things that Dave Canales has prefaced this offseason is his stubbornness to run the football. The players that should benefit from this start with Chuba Hubbard.

It was around this time last year when many didn’t see the former fourth-round selection as a viable option and possible cut candidate following training camp. His development since his rookie season is admirable and he’ll likely start the year as Carolina’s feature back.

At some point this season, second-round selection Jonathon Brooks will be utilized more in the offense. The Panthers see him as a long-term three-down weapon who can be effective as both a receiver and pass blocker early on. It wouldn’t come to anyone's surprise if he becomes the No. 1 option quickly. That said, it's all about the mental game for the Texas product, who is coming off a torn ACL.

Miles Sanders has arguably the worst contract on the roster. It seems his success with the Philadelphia Eagles had more to do with the stoutness of their offensive line and system than just pure talent. When he was on the field last season, the offense took a step back.

There is hope that Sanders can improve his play and be a potential change-of-pace back. Yet, it wouldn’t surprise me if his struggles continued in training camp, leading to a surprise cut. However, this seems unlikely.

Surprisingly enough, the running back room looks to be an area of strength in 2024.

Carolina Panthers QBs (2)

  • Bryce Young, Andy Dalton

There isn’t a viable option on the current 90-man roster to project as a third quarterback. It seems very likely that the Panthers carry two signal-callers, Bryce Young and Andy Dalton. The latter remains a great veteran presence and has proved to handle the responsibilities of the offense should Carolina's top option go down with an injury.

However, this is Young’s offense.

He was the No. 1 overall selection for a reason. He was not the biggest cause of the offense’s struggles in 2023.

Looking at the current roster, it’s in much better shape on Young’s side of the ball. It's up to the former Heisman Trophy winner to produce results on the field as there is very little excuse this time around should his play remain subpar.

With that being said, Young showed glimpses every week last year that he is capable of being a terrific quarterback in the NFL. His accuracy on all three levels, playmaking ability in and out of the pocket, and football intelligence have served him well to this point. They should do so again with more adequate talent around him.

It would be quite a surprise if the Panthers offense does not take the next step toward success this upcoming season with Young at the helm.