Carolina Panthers prospect visits should put RB room on red alert

Nobody is safe...
Trey Benson
Trey Benson / Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun / USA

Two eye-catching 30 visits before the 2024 NFL Draft should put the Carolina Panthers' current running back room on red alert.

It seems as if the Carolina Panthers were keen on keeping the status quo within their running back room. Chuba Hubbard took over lead duties last season and impressed. Miles Sanders was disappointing, but the new regime wants to give the Pro Bowler another shot after paying him a $2 million roster bonus.

Couple this with Raheem Blackshear signing his tender as an early rights free agent and the three running backs who all turned out in various roles last season remain on the books. With financial flexibility all but gone, this trio looks in pole position to retain their roster spots under new head coach Dave Canales.

Or so we thought.

Carolina Panthers hosting two RBs on pre-draft 30 visits

Looking at the pre-draft 30 visits being arranged by the Panthers so far, two are running back prospects set to be taken at some stage on Day 2 based on most projections. The latest to be reported was Trey Benson, the bruising presence out of Florida State who's gaining significant momentum at the right time.

This followed reports that Texas' explosive back Jonathon Brooks is also going to spend time with those in power in Charlotte. Despite coming off an ACL tear, he's got the sort of on-field vision and dynamic capabilities that should go down a storm at the next level providing there are no lingering effects on the health front.

People often read too much into 30 visits. Prospects can be drafted without even speaking to teams personally. However, this might be a sign that the Panthers aren't going to be complacent with any position group when the all-important selection process arrives.

Dan Morgan wants the Panthers to take the best player available regardless of positional need. This is a luxury few teams around the NFL have. At the same time, Carolina cannot afford to turn down prospects high on their board just because they have a more glaring hole elsewhere.

If someone like Benson or Brooks is atop their list of options, Morgan will pull the trigger. Those already around might not like it, but he's made ruthless decisions throughout the offseason since becoming general manager and won't hesitate to do so again if he feels like it can benefit the franchise.

Looking a little deeper, taking a running back makes a lot of sense.

Hubbard is entering a contract year and might not be extension-worthy unless he takes a substantial leap forward in 2024. Sanders is a prime salary-cap cut candidate regardless of whether he plays well or not. Blackshear's new contract was only for one year, so acquiring a long-term option isn't the worst idea in the world.

If nothing else, this should put the running back room on red alert. Nobody is or should be safe after such a torrid campaign last time around. This increased urgency and enhanced competition is exactly what's needed to improve performance levels across the board.

The Panthers have no room for passengers if they want to emerge from the NFL's laughingstock back to respectability. Anyone not pulling their weight or showing the right commitment will likely be made surplus to requirements. Morgan is also leaving no stone unturned in free agency or during his pre-draft assessments to bolster a roster in dire need of additional quality.

If that means upsetting the running back apple cart, so be it.