Carolina Panthers need to avoid this CB prospect at all costs after 2024 NFL Combine

This prospect should be off the shortlist...

Kalen King
Kalen King / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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The Carolina Panthers would be wise to avoid this cornerback prospect at all costs after his disappointing display at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine.

With the Carolina Panthers looking to trade or release Donte Jackson before free agency, their cornerback options look slimmer than ever. Jaycee Horn is the only starting-caliber performer in the room. Considering how the NFL has evolved into a pass-happy league, this is a huge need heading into a critical offseason.

There's a chance Troy Hill could be extended after defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero decided to stick around. C.J. Henderson might be let go after his trade from the Jacksonville Jaguars didn't reap the necessary rewards. Money is tight - especially if Brian Burns receives the franchise tag as expected - so going down the draft route is something to consider.

This is a relatively unheralded group of cornerbacks emerging from the college ranks this year. Other perceived stronger positions such as wide receiver and the offensive line are generating more headlines, but there could be some value to be had if the front-office assessments are on point under new general manager Dan Morgan.

Carolina Panthers should avoid Kalen King's red flags

The NFL Scouting Combine was a good chance to examine some prospects of interest. While there were plenty of standouts worth noting and worthy of further investigation, one cornerback has far too many red flags to warrant anything more than being avoided at all costs.

Kalen King looked like a potential star after a phenomenal sophomore campaign in 2022. Some tabbed him as a potential first-round selection with another strong season this time around. Unfortunately for the Penn State standout, things didn't go nearly as well.

Some coverage deficiencies crept into the player's game saw his stock drop considerably. Much has also been made of King's slender 5-foot-11, 190-pound frame, which isn't exactly ideal considering how physical specimens are evolving at the wide receiver position.

King's performance at the NFL Scouting Combine also became concerning. Primarily, this centered on his 4.61-second time in the 40-yard dash. His 72.0 overall athleticism score ranked No. 22 among all participating cornerbacks in Indianapolis. This once highly-coveted prospect is now seen by many as a Day 3 selection with no real chance of making an immediate contribution on a defensive rotation.

Hopefully, his disappointing performance will be the catalyst behind better fortunes. King got a wake-up call about what more needs to be done in pursuit of fulfilling his NFL dream. That said, the Panthers are not in a position to take someone deemed to be a work in progress given the desperate need for players at the position that can help right out of the gate.

Nothing can be dismissed at this stage. The Panthers have a lot more evaluating to do and there is also the small matter of free agency to get through before draft needs are finalized. But it's not too early to start crossing off prospects. King falls under this category looking at how things stand currently.

It might not - and perhaps shouldn't be - King coming into the fold. However, that does not detract from how vital it is for the Panthers to get two capable starters to put alongside Horn once the inevitable occurs with Jackson in the coming days.

Otherwise, it's not hard to see where the complications could emerge.

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