2024 NFL Draft grades: Carolina Panthers take big swings on boom-or-bust prospects

The Panthers took some risks in this draft class. It’s hard to say whether it’s bad or good because making risky draft picks is not inherently a bad thing. Carolina decided to spend its picks taking home-run swings on players who have low floors and big upside. The gambles are fun, but the Panthers' early draft picks have shaky profiles in one way or another. Even though they’re getting a C, it’s hard not to be caught by the allure of the unknown here. It’s a really interesting class.

Legette has a very unusual production profile. Prior to his final collegiate season, he didn’t do much of anything. Going into 2023, Legette’s career high for receiving yards in a season was 167. Then, he exploded for 1,255 yards and seven touchdowns kind of out of nowhere. Fifth-year breakouts don’t have a great track record of success in the NFL. Legette has the size and speed to potentially buck that trend. He’s the kind of athlete Carolina desperately needed on its offense and if he continues to play at the level he did last season, Bryce Young might have a chance.

Brooks is coming off of a torn ACL that will impact the start of his rookie year. He had fans during the draft cycle, but wasn’t the most dynamic back prior to the knee injury. He’s a solid, all-around RB who does a bit of everything well. Trading up to grab him is certainly a risk. Brooks should be a solid starter once he gets back to full strength. He's maybe not the every-down back the Panthers drafted him to be.

Round 1, Pick 32: Xavier Legette, WR, South Carolina
Round 2, Pick 46: Jonathon Brooks, RB, Texas
Round 3, Pick 72: Trevin Wallace, LB, Kentucky
Round 4, Pick 101: Ja’Tavion Sanders, TE, Texas
Round 5, Pick 157: Chau Smith-Wade, CB, Washington State
Round 6, Pick 200: Jaden Crumedy, DL, Mississippi State
Round 7, Pick 240: Michael Barrett, LB, Michigan