Ranking the Panthers' Three Best Draft Picks (and Two Worst)

The Panthers traded up to draft WR Xavier Legette in the first round
The Panthers traded up to draft WR Xavier Legette in the first round / David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports
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2. Chau Smith-Wade - Cornerback, Washington State (5h Round)

We're nitpicking here, as fifth-round picks don't usually make a huge impact anyway, but I have concerns about how Chau Smith-Wade's physical profile translates to the NFL. He's only 5'10" and 184 pounds with small arms and poor agility numbers, so he could be pushed around by more athletic, physical receivers.

Handling Xavier Legette in practice will be the perfect test for Smith-Wade. Legette is as physical and explosive as receivers come, so the coaching staff should know pretty quickly if Smith-Wade is capable of hanging with the freakish athletes NFL teams can trot out.

He ideally projects as a slot receiver but doesn't fix the need Carolina has at outside corner. Beggars can't be choosers in the fifth round, though I think Smith-Wade is more of a depth piece long-term than a bonfide starter.

Smith-Wade did have 17 career deflected passes at Washington State, but he's got to clean up his technique and reduce his number of penalties.

Overall though, this draft was a win for the Panthers. The offense is rebuilt and Carolina took chances on defenders with strong leadership qualities who can contribute on special teams. I'm a fan of the class, and now it'll be on Bryce Young and Dave Canales to improve on last year's miserable record.

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