Carolina Panthers fans should want this Day 2 target after 2024 NFL Combine

Could this physical specimen help Ejiro Evero's defense?

Cam Hart
Cam Hart / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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Carolina Panthers fans should want their team to draft cornerback Cam Hart after an outstanding showing at the NFL Scouting Combine.

We are right in the thick of this year's draft season. The Carolina Panthers fanbase has less enthusiasm than previous years thanks in no small part to giving up the No. 1 overall selection to the Chicago Bears. Something that raises the urgency around the other picks at general manager Dan Morgan's disposal.

Finding upgrades around quarterback Bryce Young is arguably the biggest priority. That said, the Panthers are not in a position to be turning away prospects high on their board for positional needs. That's just one reason why they're in this mess.

The NFL Scouting Combine is a good chance to speak with prospects of interest and find out a little more about their athletic attributes during on-field testing. Although he might not be considered among the most elite players in his position, cornerback Cam Hart's exceptional display of physical prowess should have fans salivating.

Hart ran a 4.5-second 40-yard dash despite his imposing size. Everything else seemed to go according to plan for the 6-foot-3 defensive back, especially when it came to the explosive areas of specific drills.

Let's take a look at the numbers:

  • Vertical jump: 39.5 inches
  • 40-yard dash: 4.5 seconds
  • 3-cone drill: 7.12 seconds
  • 20-yard shuttle: 4.24 seconds
  • Broad jump: 10 feet, 10 inches

The Notre Dame prospect backed this up with an outstanding showing during position drills. Hart's quick change of direction, in particular, alleviated some concerns. There are plenty of encouraging signs around the prospect's ball skills, which look more than ready for the next level.

Even though the Panthers have other pressing needs, adding to the cornerback room is an underrated priority. C.J. Henderson and Troy Hill are out of contract and might not return. Donte Jackson could be a salary-cap-cut candidate despite a much-improved campaign overall in 2023. Jaycee Horn is the only legitimate shutdown option, but his questionable injury history doesn't make him the most dependable.

Hart's top-end speed might put some teams off, but one only has to turn on his game tape against wide receiver phenom Marvin Harrison Jr. to see how this might not be the concern it appears. His size, ability to get wide receivers off their routes quickly, and supreme gifts when it comes to tracking downfield make him an intriguing prospect. One that looks tailor-made for Ejiro Evero's scheme now that the defensive coordinator agreed to stick around for another year.

The athleticism is absolutely off the charts where Hart is concerned. His unofficial Relative Athletic Score of 9.16 is a testament to this. Couple this with his physical presence in press coverage and against the run, it's not hard to see why he could become a potential late second-round selection when push comes to shove.

While taking him at No. 33 overall would be a stretch, the Panthers might opt to monitor how things unfold after that. If Hart is available in the third round or within touching distance, don't be surprised if Morgan makes a move to bring him on board.

Others will be on the shortlist, but Hart passed the eye test in no uncertain terms. Something that won't have gone unnoticed by the Panthers or others around the league.

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