NFL executive casts doubt on major Carolina Panthers draft move

Was this the right call from Dan Morgan?
Dan Morgan
Dan Morgan / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Dan Morgan did what he thought was best during the 2024 NFL Draft. It was an unenviable situation for the Carolina Panthers after handing over the No. 1 overall selection to the Chicago Bears, but the general manager stuck to the plan and didn't deviate despite the obvious chaos throughout another eventful three-day selection event.

Morgan's intentions throughout the offseason were to provide Bryce Young with steadier footing. Significant investments were made on offense throughout free agency. This continued in the draft, with the Panthers spending three of their first four selections on skill-position prospects who can hopefully make a big difference.

Carolina Panthers 'shopped hungry' for draft weapons

One of the more eye-catching moves made by the Panthers centered on trading up to acquire running back Jonathon Brooks in the second round at No. 46 overall. Morgan felt like jumping the queue was the only way Carolina could secure his services, especially given how much praise Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones lavished on the former Texas standout.

Brooks has talent, there's no getting away from that. He's also coming off an ACL tear which derailed a campaign that looked well on course for Heisman Trophy consideration. Everything must have checked out medically, although expecting him to be 100 percent when Week 1 rolls around might be a stretch.

One unnamed NFL executive speaking to Mike Sando from The Athletic was less convinced. They claimed under anonymity that the Panthers' moves had a sense of desperation attached in pursuit of surrounding Young with improved weapons on offense. Trading up for a running back coming off a serious injury also came under scrutiny.

“The thought behind what they did was good, but I think they were shopping hungry for an explosive-play threat. I get it. … You get a guy who can maybe be Deebo Samuel-esque in the way you use him. Trading up to take an injured running back with one year of production, I’m not sure about that.”

Not every pick will please everyone. But few would argue that Morgan didn't complete his objective heading into the draft. After all, the general manager has to make the team's significant investment in Young work. There is no other option.

They've got a purposeful, progressive head coach in Dave Canales who can hopefully scheme things up around his strengths. The offensive line should be much improved following the signings of Robert Hunt and Damien Lewis in free agency. Wide receiver Diontae Johnson arrived via trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers. To cap things off, the Panthers brought in Brooks, Xavier Legette, and Ja'Tavion Sanders - three outstanding prospects who can provide an extra spark that was sorely lacking last time around.

There might be some skepticism attached to the Brooks pick, which is understandable in the circumstances. However, if he goes on to become a genuine three-down weapon that can thrive well into his second contract, nobody will be moaning too much about the compensation.

Morgan is cleaning up the mess left behind by previous regimes. He's also making a concerted effort to put the infrastructure in place that enables the staff to find out once and for all what Young is truly capable of. It's a fine line that could impact defensive efficiency, but this is all part of his long-term plan for sustained growth.

Brooks is going to be a big part of that whether analysts or fans like it or not.