Carolina Panthers 7-round 2024 NFL mock draft: Enemy deal edition

Nothing should be off the table...
Jared Wiley
Jared Wiley / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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Carolina Panthers draft Caelen Carson

  • Cornerback | Wake Forest Demon Deacons
  • Round No. 3 | No. 65 overall

Speculation remains about the Carolina Panthers potentially bringing Stephon Gilmore back following his acrimonious departure in 2021. There seems to be interest from the player's standpoint based on Jadeveon Clowney's revelations. That said, those in power need the money to work before pulling the trigger.

For now, cornerback remains one of the most overlooked needs on the Panthers. Jaycee Horn cannot stay healthy despite his exceptional talent. Dane Jackson will be serviceable and Troy Hill coming back bolsters the rotation, but identifying one of the top prospects emerging from the college ranks is something those in power must strongly consider.

Caelen Carson looks like an NFL-caliber corner in physique, size, and potential. The Wake Forest prospect plays with outstanding balance and intelligence, which enables him to mirror wide receivers at all three levels of the field with relative comfort. He's also highly competitive and won't back down from any challenge - something Dan Morgan wants as part of his cultural restoration project in Carolina.

Another positive element of Carson's game that jumps out on film is the player's ability against the run. He's instinctive and identifies run plays developing quickly. Once he gets to the contact point, the defensive back has no trouble laying heavy hits to stop runners in their tracks.

There are some areas Carson needs to improve. He's a little flawed technically and could be prone to flags early in his NFL career. On occasion, he's also a liability tracking the football downfield, which needs to be addressed for fear of getting exposed by elite-level competition who will punish even the slightest mistake.

Fortunately for Carson or whatever cornerback comes into the Panthers, they have an outstanding coaching staff when it comes to developing defensive backs. Ejiro Evero, Jonathan Cooley, and DeAngelo Hall are accomplished in this field, so the scope for immediate improvements would be high in this scenario.