The Carolina Panthers only had five picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, but they ended up being one of the biggest winners, as they found a few potential steals after taking their franchise quarterback of the future.
While there’s understandably a ton of excitement surrounding QB Bryce Young, one of the leading OROY candidates, and his new target Jonathan Mingo, who could lead the rookie WR class, there should be more buzz about how the Panthers found some diamonds in the rough in the form of undrafted free agents. With the team’s mandatory rookie minicamp (May 12-13) almost upon us, let’s take a look at which rookie undrafted free agent will make the Panthers’ final roster.
While every prospect dreams of hearing their name called during the draft, sometimes it’s beneficial for players to hit the open market as a priority undrafted free agent, as they can actually pick their destination.
From more recent stars such as QB Tony Romo, RB Arian Foster, WR Wes Welker, TE Antonio Gates, and LB James Harrison to Hall of Fame legends like QB Warren Moon, QB Kurt Warner, DT John Randle, and CB Richard “Night Train” Lane, we have plenty of evidence that undrafted players can make a massive impact in the NFL.
So that begs the question, which 2023 undrafted free agents have the best chance to make the Panthers’ final roster?
Towards the very end of the draft, NFL teams start searching for potential UDFA gems. According to ESPN, the Panthers ended up with two of the best—Oregon State CB Rejzohn Wright and Oklahoma DT Jalen Redmond.
1 undrafted free agent who will make Panthers’ roster
While the Panthers have to be pleased with the performance from Brian Burns, Derrick Brown, Frankie Luvu, and Shaq Thompson (at least as a run defender) last season, and they signed ex-Saints DT Shy Tuttle to a three-year, $19.5 million contract in March, the rest of their front seven offers minimal proven talent and depth.
Carolina was average against the run last season and struggled through the air, giving up the 10th-most passing yards while tying for the seventh-fewest sacks and sixth-fewest interceptions.
Enter Jalen Redmond, a versatile and athletic defensive lineman with a basketball background. Redmond’s quickness and explosiveness really stood out at the Senior Bowl and the Scouting Combine.
The 6-2, 291-pound undrafted free agent plays with savvy hand usage and has a keen sense of how to get under blockers with a low center of gravity that gives him a big advantage in the twist and stunt game.
Redmond has a golden opportunity to impress right out of the gate at the team’s mandatory rookie minicamp (May 12-13). He often relied rather heavily on his athleticism in college, so he’ll certainly need to develop a more advanced pass rush repertoire in order to reach his full potential at the next level.
But Redmond has the tools to make the Panthers’ roster and get some meaningful snaps as a rookie in a rotational role, with his best trait coming off his ability to work on combo rushes in tandem with a teammate. The 24-year-old rookie finished his collegiate career with 14.0 sacks, 31.5 tackles for loss and one of the best pass rush win rates and run stop rates in this class, per PFF.
What other UDFAs have a chance to make the team?
Rejzohn Wright struggles in run support, lacks fundamentals when tackling in space, and can get too handsy in coverage, but his size (6-2, 193 pounds), length, footwork, recovery speed, and ball tracking skills make him hands down one of the top undrafted free agents from the 2023 class. He’ll obviously have some competition for a backup role in Keith Taylor Jr., Stantley Thomas-Oliver III, and Herb Miller, but Wright—a late-bloomer at Oregon State that ascended to first-team All-Pac 12 honors as a senior—has the most potential. Wright held opponents to a 74.6 passer rating and 47 percent catch rate last year for the Beavers.
Camerun Peoples needs to add more creativity and tempo to his runs to reach his full potential. His lack of experience in the receiving game and on special teams won’t help his chances of earning the No. 3 RB spot behind Chuba Hubbard, but he has the size (6-1, 217 pounds), patience, vision, and tackle-breaking ability to make this team and succeed at the next level. He has an interesting background as a musician as well. Primarily operating in a zone scheme at Appalachian State, Peoples rushed for a combined 2,050 yards and 26 touchdowns in his sophomore and junior campaigns.
The post 1 undrafted free agent who will make Panthers roster appeared first on ClutchPoints.