Overlooked Carolina Panthers rookie drawing significant plaudits

The Carolina Panthers could have a star on their hands.
Bernie Parmalee
Bernie Parmalee / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It's easy to forget the Carolina Panthers traded up to acquire Jonathon Brooks at No. 46 overall in the 2024 NFL Draft. The running back's gone relatively overlooked compared to others. This is thanks in no small part to the injury complication that's preventing him from taking the field.

Brooks tore his ACL during his final campaign with the Texas Longhorns in 2023. This brought an abrupt halt to an exceptional season that had many wondering if the backfield force would enter Heisman Trophy consideration if the same trend continued.

The Panthers were satisfied with Brooks' medical checks during their strenuous pre-draft assessments. He might not be 100 percent by the time Week 1 at the New Orleans Saints rolls around, but Carolina has enough in its running back room to bring him along gradually in pursuit of avoiding additional problems.

Despite Brooks not participating in workouts as yet, he's soaking everything in and acquiring as much information as possible. This should ensure he'll be ready to hit the ground running (literally) when the time comes. Until then, it'll be nothing but working hard to rehabilitate and watch on frustratingly.

Jonathon Brooks gaining rave reviews from Carolina Panthers staff

Brooks is biding his time for now. But his talent and potential haven't gone unnoticed by those in the building.

When speaking about Brooks, running backs coach Bernie Parmalee lauded the player based on comments via A to Z Sports. He believes the Panthers have the real gem on their hands. Someone who can quickly become the complete package and provide quarterback Bryce Young with a long-term backfield asset to depend upon.

"He’s what you want in a back. He’s got good size, vision, playmaker, can do it all, position flexibility, plays hard. And when the ball’s in his hand, he makes things happen. So that’s all you ever want for guys in your position."

Bernie Parmalee via A to Z Sports

Brooks is chomping at the bit to get involved. The athletic attributes at his disposal are undeniable. Couple this with head coach Dave Canales' intention to run the football effectively and stubbornly in equal measure, it's not hard to see why those in power were high on the player before making their move.

They weren't the only ones enamored with Brooks. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said it was the best pre-draft interview he'd conducted in 30 years. Many thought that's where he'd end up, but the Panthers had other ideas and swooped with conviction to get their guy.

Chuba Hubbard, Miles Sanders, Raheem Blackshear, and potentially Rashaad Penny will pick up the slack until Brooks gets the all-clear. When he's ready to be unleashed, it provides a different dynamic to Carolina's offense that hasn't been seen since Christian McCaffrey was traded to the San Francisco 49ers.

For coaches to be speaking highly of Brooks before he's stepped onto the practice field speaks volumes. This only raises excitement further among the fanbase, who are expecting big things from the dual-threat once he's fit and firing on all cylinders.

That's a lofty bar for which to aim. But there's nothing to suggest Brooks isn't capable of reaching these heights provided the explosiveness associated with his college production doesn't diminish coming off such a serious injury.