Panthers news: Stephon Gilmore, Jonathon Brooks, Jalen Coker, sleeper pick

Examining the latest Carolina Panthers news and rumors from around the media.
Jonathon Brooks
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Carolina Panthers' best draft sleeper pick

The Carolina Panthers made the best out of a bad situation during the 2024 NFL Draft. But for general manager Dan Morgan to have more success than his predecessors, hitting on some late-round selections is of pivotal importance.

This separates the good teams from the great. It's also something those in power before Morgan's promotion couldn't do effectively enough. The new front-office leader once again placed a high emphasis on high-athletic upside. Whether this similar ethos reaps better rewards remains to be seen.

When discussing the best sleeper picks for every team during the draft, Doug Farrar from USA Today Sports named cornerback Chau Smith-Wade as someone who could become a diamond in the rough for Carolina. He's undersized for an outside coverage option, but the Panthers are eager to find out whether he could become a productive slot presence right out of the gate.

"[Chau] Smith-Wade is another cornerback who played quite a bit outside in college, but projects to the slot for his NFL team. He was strong in coverage over four seasons with the Cougars (three as a starter), allowing 60 catches on 113 targets for 790 yards, 247 yards after the catch, four touchdowns, three interceptions, 16 pass breakups, and an opponent passer rating of 76.2. He also has experience in the box and as a blitzer at the line of scrimmage, but the Panthers want to see him in the slot, and he’s ready for that challenge, despite the fact that he had just 30 snaps there in college. The Panthers got him with the 157th pick in the fifth round."

Smith-Wade is athletic and tracks the football well downfield. Coping with tight ends in coverage or dealing with outside press situations is going to be complicated without adding some extra muscle mass. But if anyone can help the Washington State product transition smoothly, it's Ejiro Evero and his accomplished coaching staff.