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
Adonai Mitchell / Aaron E. Martinez/American-Statesman /
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6. Brian Thomas Jr.

This ranking may come as a shock to a lot of fans considering Brain Thomas Jr. is a consensus No. 4 wide receiver prospect in the draft. While he is still one of six receivers that bestow a first-round grade on my board, he has some inconsistencies that need ironing out.

Thomas’ route tree needs expansion and he must be more consistent with his short and intermediate separation skills. Furthermore, the LSU prospect is inconsistent with his catch technique due to occasions of double catches, body grabs, and drops. However, this doesn’t mean Thomas wouldn’t be a quality selection for the Carolina Panthers if he were to fall. It’s quite the opposite.

He is one of the best vertical threat receivers in the NFL Draft. Thomas wins consistently on vertical planes, using quick foot-fire and twitch to open defensive back’s hips, attack their leverage, and deploy his elite explosion and long speed to create natural separation.

Thomas has the ceiling to be a No. 1 target in the NFL, but it may not happen immediately.

5. Keon Coleman

Keon Coleman has been a hot discussion topic among Panthers fans for most of the offseason. Some either love him or hate him with at times no in-between. I am in the middle with who he is as a player and overall prospect along with his overall fit with the franchise.

Coleman has elite size and density at 6-foot-3 and 213 pounds. He is a three-level threat thanks to outstanding ball skills and tracking ability. Outside of Marvin Harrison Jr. and possibly Rome Odunze, the Florida State stud is one of the best-contested catchers in the draft, using his athleticism, tacking skills, and strong mitts to come down with the 50-50 passes. He also offers the explosive burst and rare fluidity for his size to be a threat in RAC situations.

At the time, the first-team All-ACC wideout has room to grow when it comes to creating separation. He could be more deceptive and deliberate as a route runner, which would allow him to be more consistent in short and intermediate route concepts. However, what Coleman offers now is good enough to help him when as a big slot and movement Z-receiver early on.

Coleman’s current skill set may not be everyone’s flavor. However, it’s hard to ignore that his current skill set will help him succeed early at the next level.