Why did the Carolina Panthers draft wide receiver Xavier Legette?

There was significant conviction attached to the pick.
Xavier Legette
Xavier Legette / Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The connection between Xavier Legette and the Carolina Panthers was evident throughout their pre-draft assessment process. Dave Canales and Dan Morgan took a shine to the wide receiver instantly, meeting him on several occasions. It came as no surprise to see those in power strike with conviction to land their guy when the opportunity arose.

Those who stayed watching until the end of Day 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft were rewarded when the Panthers moved up one spot for Legette at No. 32 overall. This was a head-scratcher initially, but swapping late-round picks for the chance to trigger a fifth-year option was smart - especially if the former South Carolina standout reaches or even far exceeds expectations.

Carolina Panthers' complete confidence in Xavier Legette

Legette's jaw-dropping breakout campaign with the Gamecocks in 2023 indicates he's on the right track. He's not the finished product by any stretch, but Canales believes his experience working within pro-style offenses and the player's versatility can ensure his impact is immediate with a smooth transition into the schematic concepts he plans to deploy in Carolina.

"The versatility is huge for us. So when you get a guy who can really run a guy who can high point the ball, a guy that can carry it and you can give him the ball different ways. He just brings a lot of versatility.

"So, just speaking to that, I'm just really excited to bring his talents to our offense. At the same time, I'm sure he knows, too. He's got a lot of work in front of him.

"He's a guy that I know and he credited him for, you know, giving him exposure in a pro-style type of offense. And the way that they used him this past year was impressive. He was able to articulate all that. He was able to teach our coaches what he was doing what the offense was, and that all that part was really impressive as well."

Legette can line up anywhere with equal effectiveness. Whether that's as the X receiver or in the slot, he makes things happen. Canales might also take him in motion for screen passes or even give him carries out of the backfield, such is the talent at his disposal.

More importantly, this provides Bryce Young with another dependable weapon that can be schemed open in multiple alignments and cause complete havoc with the football in his hands. The quarterback was blessed with two more gifted pass-catchers and another dynamic backfield threat during the draft. This improves his options immensely and make no mistake, there will be no more excuses next time around.

This was Carolina's conviction guy almost from the outset. Someone with the unique blend of size, strength, and explosiveness to provide a different dimension to Canales' passing attack. There could be some growing pains early on - especially from a route-running standpoint - but the head coach should also be thinking of ways to make use of his outstanding attributes while he improves this critical area of his game.

After things became so bland and uninspiring offensively last season, the Panthers have more dynamism and creative playmakers available to Young after a busy offseason of recruitment. Legette is a big piece of the puzzle, but there needs to be a level of patience attached when the inevitable rookie struggles arrive.

Canales and Morgan have complete faith that this was the right call. You should too.