Now that the Carolina Panthers have completed their 2018 draft, here is a concise summary for you. I believe the following are reasonable and minimal expectations for each rookie. A baseline for them to seize and hopefully exceed.
Wide receiver DJ Moore Must contribute immediately. The first WR taken in the 2018 draft means he has to produce right away for the Panthers. No excuses here really unless he is injured. 1000 yard season with a hand full of touchdowns would be nice and totally justify his selection.
Second round corner Donte Jackson must see playing time immediately. The Carolina Panthers ignored more glaring needs to select him, he has to show us why. I am excited about this kid, love the attitude he brings and think it will be a perfect compliment to the quiet James Bradberry. Looking forward to seeing Jackson run step for step with Ted Ginn and DeSean Jackson.
Nickel turned safety Rashaan Gaulden was taken in round three. The expectation here is a bit lower. I don’t suspect he will contribute much right away, but should be by mid season as he comes up to speed. I just cannot bank on a converted nickel to safety playing much from the get go. If he does, great. But I am not getting my hopes up. Situational guy against two tight end sets would be my best guess early on.
Fourth round tight end Ian Thomas is intriguing. This is a developmental pick and should be treated as such. Next year I would love to see this guy get real playing time. This year I suspect his role will look a lot like Manhertz from last season. Very few reps unless injury occurs. If he can come in and really show an aptitude to pick up the offense, there is a chance he leapfrogs Manhertz right away. Fingers crossed.
The Panthers also went with edge specialist Marquis Haynes in the fourth round. Special teams player if he makes the regular roster. Suspect he is more of a practice squad project at this point. All his selling points sound good, but more skilled rookies have struggled ever to get playing time from Ron Rivera. When it is all said and done, they won’t use him.
Fifth round inside linebacker Jermaine Carter is a high character guy with strong work ethic. Has special teams written all over him. I am going to nickname him Miracle Whip because he is a possible substitute for Mayo next season.
Seventh round inside linebacker Andre Smith has the same chance as Carter, only he is coming off a knee injury. If that works out well, Carter out, Smith in. If not, practice squad awaits. Not much of a chance both make the roster.
Seventh round DT Kendrick Norton could replace Kyle Love next season. Will likely be found on the practice squad this year and brought up if injury occurs. Could be a more solid draft pick than we expect. The roster is short on pure space eating DT’s with the departure of Star Lotulelei. The Carolina Panthers present a good opportunity for this young man.Agree? Disagree? You can sound off right here with thousands of Carolina Panthers fans.