Carolina Panthers 7-round 2024 NFL mock draft: Decision time edition

The time is almost upon us...
Renardo Green
Renardo Green / Jack Williams/Tallahassee Democrat / USA
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Carolina Panthers draft Brenden Rice

  • Wide Receiver | USC Trojans
  • Round No. 5 | No. 141 overall

In all honesty, the Carolina Panthers will probably address the wide receiver position much sooner than this. This could perhaps even become their first selection to kick off Day 2 based on Xavier Legette's recent comments.

The Panthers have a plethora of needs that must be addressed with only seven selections to make the franchise better. This is where not having a first-round selection hurts in 2024. That pick would have been invaluable as a trade-down bargaining tool to extract a king's ransom from a team looking to take a quarterback.

Alas, that's not the case.

Carolina has Adam Thielen, Jonathan Mingo, and recently acquired Diontae Johnson as their projected starting trio currently. That won't be enough - especially if the former second-round pick out of Ole Miss cannot progress following a disappointing rookie campaign. Much of the speculation centers on Legette, but another pass-catcher spent plenty of time with the Panthers throughout the pre-draft process and could be available at some stage on Day 3.

Brenden Rice has the biggest shoes imaginable to fill. He's the son of Jerry Rice, a Pro Football Hall of Famer widely regarded as the greatest wide receiver in NFL history. While most would shirk this challenge and choose a different career path, the USC prospect has gone about his business with an eye-catching purpose to make his dreams come true.

Considering his pedigree, it's no surprise to find out that Rice is a tremendous route-runner. He's sharp out of his cuts, manipulates body angles superbly, and boasts assured hands capable of making a difference all over the field. The wideout also improved his red-zone efficiency last season - something he displayed to full effect during an exceptional week of practice at the Senior Bowl.

Rice must improve his consistency on a week-to-week basis once he gets to the pros. It also remains to be seen how he'll cope with a bigger bullseye on his back than most. That said, this looks like the sort of pass-catching force that could thrive within Dave Canales' scheme.