Top prospect drops significant hint on Carolina Panthers draft plans

Are the stars aligning?
Dan Morgan
Dan Morgan / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It's no secret that the Carolina Panthers are looking to surround Bryce Young with better options in the passing game. Dan Morgan and Dave Canales have highlighted the need to make everything around the quarterback better - not just the offense - but it would be a shock if those in power didn't spend some of their resources on making things easier for the signal-caller after such a disappointing rookie campaign.

This is also projected to be one of the deepest wide receiver draft classes in recent memory. Those around the league seem to be in consensus surrounding this fact. Therefore, the Panthers must be ready for anything when the big selection process begins.

Xavier Legette claims Carolina Panthers will take him at No. 33

One potential top option seemed to drop a significant hint about the Panthers' draft plans. Xavier Legette - a physically imposing wideout from South Carolina who's spent considerable time with Carolina's brass throughout their pre-draft evaluations - revealed that if he's still around at No. 33 overall, they are going to take him to kick off Day 2.

It's quite a statement. It could also cause a sense of nervousness from the Panthers' perspective.

Say, for example, another team is high on Legette. They know the Panthers are going to select him at No. 33. If they so choose, engineering a trade-up to secure the wideout would leave Morgan exploring alternative options.

Not many have projected Legette to be a first-round pick, but it only takes one team to believe that. After seemingly showing Carolina's hand ahead of time, it has the scope to complicate matters considerably.

That said, Joe Person of The Athletic believes Legette will still be around even if the Panthers trade down. He mocked the wideout to Carolina at No. 34 after dropping down one spot via trade with the New England Patriots in his final mock draft. The beat writer is more connected than most, so the stars seem to be aligning.

"There were wideouts available at the top of the second with more receiving touchdowns in college than Legette, and I gave serious consideration to Oregon’s Troy Franklin, who had 23 TDs the past two seasons. But I keep hearing the Panthers are high on the 6-1, 221-pound Legette, who is about the same height as Franklin and a tick faster despite outweighing him by a chiseled 45 pounds.

"Legette had one big year for the Gamecocks, with seven TD catches last fall. He also averaged 17.7 yards a catch and was clocked at 22.3 mph against Mississippi State, the fastest time by a ball carrier in the NCAA or NFL in 2023. And though The Athletic’s Dane Brugler compared Franklin to DJ Chark, Brugler’s comp for Legette was DK Metcalf, whom Canales was with in Seattle. He’s also a dynamic kick returner."

This only adds to the level of fascination surrounding Legette, who came of age with the Gamecocks in 2023 and seems to be scratching the surface of what he's truly capable of. Questions have been asked about why it took so long for the player to break out in college, but his physical profile suggests a potentially productive role immediately within Dave Canales' expansive scheme.

Legette's slip of the tongue lent further weight to the claims, but nothing will be confirmed one way or another until the Panthers go on the clock. It doesn't seem likely they're going to trade up into the first round, so it's a waiting game to see what prospects will be available at No. 33 and No. 39.

If the Panthers believe Legette will help, one couldn't dismiss the possibility. After all, momentum is everything at this stage of the process.