Ranking top 12 wide receiver prospects: Who will the Carolina Panthers draft?

The Carolina Panthers would be wise to take advantage of an outstanding draft class.
Adonai Mitchell
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8. Xavier Worthy

One of the things the Carolina Panthers lacked offensively in 2023 was speed. D.J. Chark was supposed to be that but failed to reach expectations. It’s also unfair to expect Ihmir Smith-Marsette to be that vertical, open-the-top-off receiver for the offense.

If he were to be available for at No. 33 overall, Texas speedster Xavier Worthy should be in serious consideration to be Carolina’s selection at the top of the Day 2 order. 

There is a narrative that continues to go around that Worthy is just a speed guy with no versatility. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, he ran the fastest 40-yard dash in NFL Scouting Combine history at 4.21 seconds. Yet, he wins in a lot of different ways that can benefit the Panthers or any NFL offense.

To go along with his game-breaking three-level speed, Worthy is a great route runner. His explosiveness and elite twitch allow him to be a nightmare in short and intermediate routes with in-breaking stems. He shows good body control and hip sinkage when breaking on deeper out-breaking routes and comebacks.

Worthy also wins in run-after-catch situations due to his speed, creative footwork, and surprisingly sufficient contact balance despite his 5-foot-11, 165-pound frame.

The prospect's slender build will lead to some durability concerns. He has below-average play strength and doesn’t win consistently in contested catch situations. However, Worthy’s elite explosiveness and speed along with RAC and return specialist skills will allow him to be an immediate impact playmaker in any offense.

7. Ladd McConkey

When discussing potential wide receivers that could fit the Panthers' offense, we also think about ones that can win quickly and efficiently in the short to intermediate range where Bryce Young has shown to thrive. This receiver doesn’t need to be a No. 1 target and once again, it’s unrealistic to expect whoever Carolina to draft at the position to be just that, unless it’s one of the six remaining players on this list.

With that being said, Ladd McConkey is one of the best overall route runners in the draft and has shown to win at all three levels of the field. He’s a great salesman with double moves and displays superb short-area quickness that allows him to win quickly and early in his routes.

McConkey isn’t just a great route runner. He’s a superb athlete with the explosiveness and creativity to win after the catch and pursuit angles. The Georgis standout also adds value as a punt returner and could compete with Smith-Marsette for the role should he be drafted. 

A two-time national champion, McConkey offers terrific football IQ to destroy and pick apart zone coverages along with the foot speed to beat press-man coverage cleanly at the line of scrimmage. In recent mock drafts by local and national media outlets, he has been seen as a favorite to be selected at either No. 33 or No. 39 overall. He would be a great selection at the position and give the Panthers a quality No. 2 target in the passing game.