Carolina Panthers — Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina
When the Panthers took Steve Smith in the third round of the 2001 draft out of Utah, Smith was a tough, quick receiver who was debited by many pro scouts because of his size. Ellington has those same characteristics — he measured 5-9 and 197 pounds at the scouting combine, but he managed 89 catches for 1,375 yards and 15 touchdowns in his last two years against SEC defenses. He was Connor Shaw’s main target in Shaw’s amazing 24-touchdown, one-pick season in 2013.
Like the young Smith, Ellington comes off the line with a quick release, can excel from the slot or outside and is unafraid of catching passes in traffic. With Smith gone and the team’s receiver corps in a total tizzy, getting Ellington as a near-hometown catch would seem to make a lot of sense. He’ll need to expand his knowledge of the route tree at the next level, which is another reason he could be a third-day bargain.