The Carolina Panthers’ brass made a clear effort to improve their secondary and better equip their offense with pass-catching talent in hopes of aiding quarterback Cam Newton in his pursuit of another Super Bowl berth.
Starting in Round 1, Carolina took former Maryland standout D.J. Moore as the first wide receiver off the board with the No. 24 overall pick, adding much-needed speed, fluidity and athleticism to their receiver room. Slotted as our third-ranked wide receiver in the class, Moore earned a career-high 84.6 overall grade and ranked 18th in yards per route run (2.78) in 2017.
Former Indiana tight end Ian Thomas, the Panthers’ first of two fourth-round picks, can have a similar impact to Moore working opposite of veteran Greg Olsen in two-TE sets. Playing just 646 offensive snaps in his Hoosiers career, Thomas is raw across the board, which limited him both as a blocker and pass-catcher. However, he has all of the tools needed to have significant success at the next level. He earned a career-high 79.4 receiving grade this past season.
The 5-foot-11, 178-pound Jackson may be limited to the slot at the next level due to a lack of size, but his ceiling as the Panthers’ No. 3 cornerback is through the roof. Possessing blazing speed and high-end athleticism, Jackson earned a career-high 83.9 overall grade in 2017. He also allowed a sub-54.0 catch percentage in each of the past two seasons.
Gaulden ranked sixth in run-stop percentage (4.4) and yards allowed per coverage snap (0.54) among qualifying draft-eligible cornerbacks this past season, leading to a career-high 84.1 overall grade.
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