How could the Carolina Panthers deploy Jonathon Brooks in 2024?

Hopes are high regarding the rookie running back.
Jonathon Brooks
Jonathon Brooks / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Many were surprised to see the Carolina Panthers trade up to No. 46 overall in the 2024 NFL Draft for running back Jonathon Brooks. This was a major statement of intent from those in power, who wanted to surround quarterback Bryce Young with more support and also establish a rushing attack that's feared around the league.

Dave Canales has made no secret of his desire to make the Panthers a dynamic force on running plays. The offensive line acquisitions on the interior bring a level of physicality and nastiness that was sorely lacking last time around. Brooks - who was regarded as the best running back in the 2024 class by most analysts - brings another level of intrigue after an exceptional college career at Texas.

Brooks is a dynamic backfield threat with the patience, on-field vision, and elusiveness to break off big yardage on any given down. There is some concern attached thanks to his torn ACL suffered with the Longhorns in 2023, but the Panthers were satisfied enough with the player's recovery outlook to take the plunge.

Carolina Panthers could lean on Jonathon Brooks heavily

While it would be a surprise if Brooks was 100 percent right away, there's nothing to suggest he cannot become a focal point at some stage during the 2024 campaign. This was a sentiment echoed by Doug Farrar from USA Today Sports, who expects Canales to lean on the rookie heavily once he receives clearance for a heavy workload.

"Don’t underestimate the addition of Texas running back Jonathon Brooks with the 46th overall pick in the second round. [Dave] Canales, who spent last season as the Buccaneers’ offensive coordinator and was therefore in charge of Rachaad White’s place in that offense (only Christian McCaffrey of the 49ers had more carries last season than White’s 299, and White also had 69 catches on 78 targets in 2023), has no issue leaning heavily on one back — as long as that back is the right back."

The fact Carolina surged up the order for Brooks lends further weight to these claims. It might be a committee approach initially thanks to the presence of Chuba Hubbard and Miles Sanders, but the scope for the incoming college recruit to become a genuine three-down threat to place alongside Young long-term is there for all to see.

Tempering expectations where Brooks is concerned would be prudent initially. It was a serious knee injury, so the Panthers should adopt a cautious approach to ease him back in gradually. Once he finds his football feet once again, it's all systems go.

Considering how frequently and stubbornly Canales plans to pound the rock, it pays to have an abundance of options capable of accumulating carries. That said, the cream always rises to the top. Something everyone associated with the Panthers hopes Brooks can accomplish sooner rather than later.

Running backs tend to go through smoother transitions than most positions, which helps. This enables Brooks to focus on his recovery and build up strength more than anything else. Once everything has healed to a degree where he can be fully unleashed, the league could have a big problem on its hands.