Carolina Panthers Final NFL Draft Grades 2024: Panthers Add Xavier Legette, Jonathon Brooks, Ja’Tavion Sanders to Bryce Young’s Supporting Cast

    Did the Carolina Panthers add some great prospects without their first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft? Here's a closer look at their draft grades.

    After acquiring the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft, the Carolina Panthers will consequently be without the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft heading into Dave Canales’ first year as a head coach. Here is a closer look at the Panthers’ draft grades after working with limited assets heading into the event.

    Carolina Panthers 2024 NFL Draft Grades

    Round 1, Pick 32: Xavier Legette, WR, South Carolina

    The Panthers may have been without the first overall pick to start Day 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft, but they managed to get the final pick on Thursday, trading up to No. 32 overall to select WR Xavier Legette. Legette’s profile may only have one year of elite production, but flashes of a potentially dominant outside receiver were all over his 2023 tape.

    He’s got the size (6’1’’, 221 pounds) and speed (4.39-second 40-yard dash) that projects well as an outside X receiver on Sundays. He has a rocked-up physique that he utilizes to absolutely bully smaller defensive backs at the catch point and has explosive athleticism and play strength to be a YAC threat with the ball in his hands.

    He should play an excellent complement to the effortless separator Diontae Johnson and savvy veteran Adam Thielen in a revamped Carolina passing attack.

    Grade: A-

    Round 2, Pick 46: Jonathon Brooks, RB, Texas

    The Panthers saw some encouraging glimpses from running back Chuba Hubbard towards the end of the 2023 season, but he is entering the final year of his rookie deal. Therefore, the selection of Jonathon Brooks out of Texas certainly provides a potential future three-down back for head coach Dave Canales past this season.

    MORE: 2024 NFL Draft Complete Results, Recap, Order, and All 257 Picks

    The big question surrounding Brooks’ immediate outlook surrounds the torn ACL he suffered towards the 2023 college football season, which could certainly limit his impact in 2024. Yet, his slashing style, flashes of exceptional vision in zone concepts, and pass-catching ability make him a selection that could factor into this Carolina offense in a big way moving forward.

    Grade: B

    Round 3, Pick 72: Trevin Wallace, LB, Kentucky

    The Panthers finally shifted their focus from the offensive side of the football by addressing the linebacker position in the third round with Trevin Wallace out of Kentucky. The team lost Frankie Luvu in free agency and traded edge rusher Brian Burns to the New York Giants earlier this offseason, making it a position of need.

    Wallace has great horizontal range with his explosive athletic traits, and he could initially compete for a rotational role alongside Shaq Thompson and Josey Jewell while he cleans up diagnosing skills and potentially develops into a three-down linebacker down the road.

    Grade: B-

    Round 4, Pick 101: Ja’Tavion Sanders, TE, Texas

    The Panthers have spent the majority of their 2024 NFL Draft capital on surrounding second-year quarterback Bryce Young with talented playmakers, and they continue that trend by selecting Texas TE Ja’Tavion Sanders with the first pick of the fourth round.

    Sanders is a quality RAC threat at the tight end position and instantly gives the Carolina offense an upgrade in the room over Tommy Tremble and Ian Thomas in 2024.

    Grade: A

    Round 5, Pick 157: Chau Smith-Wade, CB, Washington State

    The Panthers have spent most of their 2024 NFL Draft investing assets on offense, but Carolina finally turned its attention to the secondary after sending cornerback Donte Jackson to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the deal that brought Diontae Johnson to town.

    The Panthers selected cornerback Chau Wade-Smith out of Washington State at No. 142 overall. Wade-Smith is undersized at 5’10’’, 184 pounds, and didn’t test very well at the NFL Combine with a slower 40 time (4.54), a poor vertical jump (34.5’’), and a sluggish three-cone drill (7.05).

    However, his ability to diagnose route concepts and fluid click-and-close ability could lead to a contributing role in the secondary down the road while he starts his career as a special-teams ace.

    Grade: B-

    Round 6, Pick 200: Jaden Crumedy, DT, Mississippi State

    Outside of Derrick Brown, the Panthers don’t possess a ton of elite interior defensive line talent at the current moment, which makes this selection of defensive tackle Jaden Crumedy out of Mississippi State a quality choice at the 200th overall pick.

    Crumedy has alignment versatility, a nice first step, and a high motor which could help him factor into the defensive line rotation as early as the 2024 NFL season.

    Grade: B+

    Round 7, Pick 240: Michael Barrett, LB, Michigan

    The Panthers could certainly afford to get younger and faster at the linebacker position with both Shaq Thompson and Josey Jewell both set to be north of 30 years old by the end of the 2024 NFL season. Carolina decided to spend its final pick of the draft on Michigan linebacker Michael Barrett at No. 240 overall.

    Barrett flashes potential as a three-down off-ball linebacker, but his overall lack of elite measurables or physical tools likely cap his ceiling as a rotational, situation-driven linebacker at the professional level.

    Grade: C

    2024 NFL Draft Summary

    The Dave Canales era in Carolina has started off with a solid first draft class headlined by South Carolina WR Xavier Legette and Texas RB Jonathon Brooks.

    KEEP READING: Panthers UDFA Signings and Rookie Camp Invites

    Both players may require a bit of patience from fans for both players to reach their potential, but both have an exceptionally high ceiling and should help Bryce Young in some capacity immediately and could make this offense elite if they all reach their potential together.

    Final Grade: B

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