Carolina Panthers take secondary gamble with Chau Smith-Wade at No. 157

This was another decent pick from Dan Morgan.
Chau Smith-Wade
Chau Smith-Wade / Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Dan Morgan kicked off Day 3 of the 2024 NFL Draft by providing quarterback Bryce Young with another dynamic weapon in the passing game in the form of tight end Ja'Tavion Sanders. After that, the Carolina Panthers had a chance to take stock of their remaining options and what more was needed.

However, at this stage of the draft, panicking about filling remaining needs indicates a good enough job hasn't been done earlier in the process.

Morgan and his staff feel pretty good about their picks so far. Putting it all together between the white lines is the biggest challenge, but those in power are bringing in players with specific characteristics that should slot in seamlessly to Dave Canales' newfound ethos.

Carolina Panthers draft Chau Smith-Wade at No. 157

Hitting on late-rounders is somewhat rare, especially for a team that gave draft picks away with reckless abandon. This is another sign that things are being done differently under Morgan, who was closely associated with previous general manager Scott Fitterer but is looking to do things his way.

First up for the Panthers was Chau Smith-Wade at No. 141 overall. There's been a primary focus on the offensive side of things up to this point aside from linebacker Trevin Wallace, so it was nice to see Ejiro Evero's defensive unit get a high-upside individual to contribute at some stage over his rookie campaign.

Smith-Wade has the athletic stature Morgan has coveted heavily throughout his debut draft in the prominent decision-making chair. This doesn't translate to consistent on-field output on occasion, but the flashes were enough for the Panthers to warrant a prolonged look at his capabilities.

The Washington State prospect is instinctive and incredibly fast. Smith-Wade didn't gain a pick in 2023, but his two takeaways in th Senior Bowl game didn't go unnoticed. However, there are some gravve concerns about the player's slender frame and how it might cope going up against NFL-caliber wide receivers.

This is also a pretty good environment for Smith-Wade to join. Evero opted to stick around after narrowly missing out on a head coaching opportunity. As such, Carolina's accomplished defensive staff also stayed committed to the cause. This keeps continuity and gives any incoming player a chance to benefit from their exceptional development techniques.

Asking Smith-Wade to become a focal point at cornerback from the moment he steps onto the field would be foolish. But if given time to develop and make an impact on special teams in the meantime, that's all Evero and Canales should be looking for.

Anything else is just a bonus.