Finding better options in the passing game is a high priority for the Carolina Panthers. And this is another loaded draft class at the wide receiver position.
It was another indifferent offensive performance as the Carolina Panthers suffered a road loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Many thought improvements would arrive in the immediate aftermath of Frank Reich's firing - aside from a few notable tweaks, it was the same old story.
Bryce Young wasn't at his best again, which is becoming an ongoing concern. The rookie quarterback doesn't look like the same player that took college football by storm at Alabama, so providing their new prized possession with everything he needs to thrive next offseason is one of the team's highest remaining objectives.
The Panthers are tied to Young for the next two years at least. It's hard to evaluate his rookie year given the supporting cast, so those in power need to get creative with little in the way of draft capital and the salary-cap space available.
Carolina Panthers draft Emeka Egbuka in PFN's mock
Although the Panthers look set to give up the No. 1 overall selection in the 2024 NFL Draft to the Chicago Bears if their freefall continues, they do have the No. 33 pick currently. This could see a legitimate first-round talent fall into their laps depending on the needs elsewhere.
This was a topic brought up by Ian Cummings of Pro Football Network in his latest mock draft. The writer started by getting Young a true difference-maker at the wide receiver position in the form of Emeka Egbuka - a physically gifted wideout out of Ohio State who can make things happen with the football in his hands.
"Emeka Egbuka‘s injury took him out of the spotlight for a while, but he’s still a first-round WR on my board, with exciting three-level ability, route running intelligence, and RAC skills."- Ian Cummings, Pro Football Network
Egbuka looked on course to enjoy a phenomenal final campaign with the Buckeyes before injury struck. Playing alongside an elite prospect like Marvin Harrison Jr. helped, but the explosive presence caught the eye with slick route-running, assured ball control, and an ability to get into stride quickly after the catch.
The skilled pass-catcher is a physical and elusive runner in equal measure. Egbuka has the high-end speed to take the top off of any defense and boasts surprisingly efficient blocking capabilities to ensure he'll be a major asset on running downs.
This is the sort of player the Panthers have sorely lacked this season. Someone who can make plays at all three levels of the field and conjure up magic for big gains out of nothing.
Looking at Egbuka's tape, there are some concerns. Concentration can become an issue for the player on occasion, his contested catch success rate needs to improve, and sharpening his route-running in press-man situations is something else that would smooth his transition from college to the pros.
There should be a few notable wide receivers available for Carolina at No. 33. This is an exceptional class, but they also have a dire need to solidify the offensive line that cannot be overlooked by those making the important decisions next spring.
Who that'll be with general manager Scott Fitterer's future hanging in the balance remains to be seen. Either way, Young needs help in the biggest way imaginable and the Panthers could do far worse than look in Egbuka's direction.