Embarrassment of riches leaves Carolina Panthers with wide receiver slam dunk

The Carolina Panthers cannot go wrong...

Keon Coleman
Keon Coleman / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Despite not having a first-round selection, the Carolina Panthers are in a prime position to get a playmaking wide receiver at No. 33 overall.

Entering the offseason, the Carolina Panthers displayed a significant need at wide receiver. It was one of the worst position groups on the roster despite some quality production from 33-year-old Adam Thielen.

There is urgency to add more playmakers, and rightfully so. The unit was one of the Achilles heels on offense and a detriment to Bryce Young. It is widely regarded that if the quarterback were to have just average talent around him, he would display consistent flashes of brilliance that made him the No. 1 overall selection in 2023.

In every game he played during his rookie campaign, Young demonstrated strokes of brilliance as a passer - whether it was working out of structure, making middle-of-the-field throws, or accurate passes to all levels of the field. Yet, the talent around the Heisman Trophy winner failed him. That’s one of the consequences of trading D.J. Moore to get themselves to No. 1 overall last offseason.

Carolina Panthers have multiple draft options at WR

Under the new regime of general manager Dan Morgan and head coach Dave Canales, there has been a true priority of both protecting Young and surrounding him with quality skill talent. So far, the team has done a good job by signing guards Robert Hunt and Damien Lewis to big contracts while acquiring former Pro Bowl wide receiver Diontae Johnson via trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Yet, the wide receiver spot is still a big need for the Panthers ahead of the 2024 NFL Draft. The team will have their choice at the position with both the No. 33 and No. 39 overall selections. Make no mistake, they can’t exactly go wrong with who they draft.

There is a significant amount of debate and discourse on social media amongst the Panthers fanbase as to what receivers they should draft, what type or style should they go with, and where to take those talents.

Digging more into the wideout class, it’s the deepest in recent memory. The top of the class is headlined by Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. - a potentially generational prospect. After him, it’s LSU’s Malik Nabers and Washington’s Rome Odunze, who would be the first wide receivers taken in most draft classes.

Following those three names, it is a total guessing game as to who the fourth receiver drafted will be. That’s where the Panthers come into play. Any receiver could be in play for No. 33, even if the probability is much lower for one or two prospects.

Carolina Panthers should have different styles available at No. 33

Who is in play at No. 33 overall?

Around nine receivers are possibilities in the second round for Carolina. Some of those names include Florida State’s Keon Coleman, Texas wideouts Xavier Worthy and Adonai Mitchell, Georgia’s Ladd McConkey, South Carolina’s Xavier Legette, and Oregon’s Troy Franklin.

Much of the debate from Panthers fans is about what type of receiver Young and the offense need. Adding Johnson was a plus and there is hope that 2023 second-rounder Jonathan Mingo adds some juice to the offense’s vertical game where he flashed last season. But that's not enough.

Looking at the different styles of play from each receiver prospect along with who Carolina offers at this time, it doesn't matter what type Morgan takes early. There’s so much quality talent that could be available and any wideout they draft should bring a positive contribution to the offense almost immediately.

Do want a fluid, explosive, jump-ball master at the Z? Coleman is your guy. Want a similar player but offers yards-after-catch ability? You might be a fan of Legette.

What if you want a quality playmaker in run-after-catch situations who offers ample separation skills and route-running ability? McConkey and Florida’s Ricky Pearsall provide that skill set.

Maybe you want someone who offers vertical and field-stretching ability? Worthy and Franklin fit the billing. Or, do you want a receiver with incredible ball skills and alignment versatility along with room to grow as a route runner? That’s Washington’s Ja’Lynn Polk.

The Panthers simply cannot go wrong in any of these directions. There is a lot of talent and quality playmakers at the position. They all provide a skill set that will benefit Young in one way or another.

It won’t be a bad pick or reach if Carolina selects Legette at No. 33 or Polk at No. 39. Do they have room to grow as players? Of course - so does every other prospect at their respective position. 

Whether it’s a jump-ball specialist, game-breaking speedster, or route-running magician, these are the type of playmakers the Panthers offense needs moving forward. There is no wrong answer.

Just draft good football players, which all of these prospects are.