3 Players Panthers must target on Day 2 of 2024 NFL Draft

The 2024 NFL Draft starts Friday for the Panthers and maybe with these players.

3 Players Panthers must target on Day 2 of 2024 NFL Draft

The first round of the 2024 NFL Draft begins Thursday! As exciting as tonight is for fans of the league and teams drafting at the top of the draft, it won’t be very fun for every team in the NFL. One team that sentiment especially applies to is the Carolina Panthers. Though they finished with the worst record in the NFL last season, they don’t have their first-round pick. Barring a trade, they won’t make their first pick until Day 2 of the draft.

The Panthers are down their pick this year as a result of the trade they made for the number one overall pick in the previous draft. They used that pick on Bryce Young. While it is disappointing they’re not picking today, there is still hope for Carolina. They’ve made sound moves in the offseason so far and currently have three of the first 33 picks on Day 2 of the draft. The Panthers would be wise to target players like Xavier Legette, Ennis Rakestraw Jr., and Chris Braswell with those choices.

Xavier Legette, Wide Receiver, South Carolina

The Panthers had a number of holes on their roster last season, but wide receiver was near the top. They had no one who could consistently get open, and that led to poor production. Adam Thielen was the only player on Carolina’s roster to exceed 525 receiving yards last season with 1,014. That may sound like a lot, but even his production may be fool’s gold. Four-hundred forty-three of those yards came in a four-week span, meaning Thielen put up just 571 yards in the other 12 weeks of the season. That’s an average of 47.58 yards per game.

Hardly any of those yards came via explosive chunk plays. Thielen, who primarily played out of the slot, posted an average depth of target of 7.5 yards according to playerprofiler.com. DJ Chark and Jonathan Mingo were brought in to make big plays but averaged just 1.14 and 0.80 yards per route run between them. They didn’t provide the explosive receptions Carolina needed from them.

South Carolina’s Xavier Legette can, however. Legette did not produce a lot during his first four seasons at Columbia but broke out in a major way last year. He caught 71 passes for 1,255 yards and scored seven touchdowns. He averaged 17.1 yards per reception by making big plays like this consistently.

Legette doesn’t exclusively Moss people either. He is very dangerous with the ball in his hands and can make something out of nothing.

The Panthers already added to their receiver core earlier this offseason when they traded for former Steeler Diontae Johnson. That was a great move, but he isn’t exactly an explosive receiver either. If the Panthers want to add even more pop to their offense, however, Legette would be a great way to do so to begin Round 2

Ennis Rakestraw Jr., Cornerback, Missouri

Missouri Tigers defensive back Ennis Rakestraw Jr. (2) reacts in the end zone as Kentucky Wildcats wide receiver Dane Key (6) makes a reception for a touch down during the first quarter at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium.
William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

With the 33rd or the 39th pick, the Panthers could address a position they traded a former starter at earlier in the offseason. In the deal that brought them Johnson with the Pittsburgh Steelers, they also sent out cornerback Donte Jackson. A great candidate to replace Jackson would be former Missouri Tiger Ennis Rakestraw Jr.

Rakestraw has all the physical tools to be a great corner in the NFL. At 6-foot and 188 pounds, he fits the bill to guard any type of receiver. He didn’t test super well at the NFL combine, but a groin injury may have altered his results. Rakestraw tested better with his (unofficial) Pro Day results.

In addition to that, he graded well both against the run and the pass this season.

Jaycee Horn is a great corner for the Panthers, but they could use someone else to flank him on the other side. Rakestraw Jr. could be that guy. He’d make a great Round 2 selection.

Chris Braswell, Edge Rusher, Alabama

The Panthers also need to find another pass rusher. They finally dealt Brian Burns this offseason, but only got the 39th overall pick and a fifth-round pick for him. It’s not a great return, but it does allow the Panthers to use either that pick or the 65th pick to find a pass rusher to replace him. That could be Alabama’s Chris Braswell.

Braswell is not the talent his Alabama teammate Dallas Turner is, but he can play in his own right. He had eight sacks this past season. Turner had only two more. If Braswell could maintain that type of production, he could be a nice find on Day 2 of the draft.

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