Carolina Panthers 7-round 2024 NFL mock draft: Pre-combine edition

The NFL Scouting Combine has finally arrived...

Payton Wilson
Payton Wilson / Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports
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player. . Payton Wilson. 442. . 82. Linebacker. Payton Wilson. wilson.

Carolina Panthers select Payton Wilson

  • Linebacker | North Carolina State Wolfpack
  • Round No. 3 | No. 82 overall (via Indianapolis Colts)

Frankie Luvu enjoyed a season where he was arguably one of the biggest focal points on defense. He showed his value as someone who should be with the Carolina Panthers for the long haul, especially as Shaq Thompson enters his 30s.

Yet, Luvu could test the free agent market, leaving a gaping hole on the second level next to Thompson.

Payton Wilson is the player I believe could be a great young replacement for Luvu. However, his medical exams at the NFL Scouting Combine this week will be huge for his draft stock.

Wilson has suffered three season-ending injuries, including two torn ACLs and an undisclosed shoulder complication that kept him out of the 2021 season. Not only that, the prospect will be 24 years old as a rookie - though this doesn't feel like another D.J. Johnson experiment.

He is a good football player, plain and simple. Wilson was an absolute force for North Carolina State in 2023, registering nearly 140 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, and three interceptions. The former All-ACC selection offers incredible range and fluidity that allows him to attack from sideline to sideline.

A star player with the Wolfpack, Wilson has a great burst and football IQ that allows him to play with discipline versus the run and pass. While I believe he can improve his overall play strength, the prospect has shown to make good tackles in space.

This is a player who would provide a playmaking ability on the second level that Carolina would be welcoming to, assuming his medical investigations check out.