The Carolina Panthers are going to be conducting rookie minicamp this weekend which will be the 2nd step of getting them acclimated to the organization. The first step? Getting them signed.
On Thursday morning, the Panthers announced that six of the eleven 2021 NFL Draft picks have signed their standard, four-year rookie contracts. Those players include RB Chuba Hubbard, OL Deonte Brown, DL Daviyon Nixon, CB Keith Taylor Jr., WR Shi Smit, and LS Thomas Fletcher.
RB Chuba Hubbard
The former Oklahoma State running back will give the Panthers some depth in the backfield and could be Christian McCaffrey's backup from day one. During his time at Oklahoma State, Hubbard rushed for 3,459 yards and 33 touchdowns. In 2019, Hubbard a huge breakout season in which he rushed for over 2,000 yards and 21 touchdowns.
OL Deonte Brown
Brown is one of the best offensive linemen to be drafted on day three and throw out the fact that he was drafted in the 6th round, he'll be able to come in and compete for playing time right away. He may not be a start immediately but he should in due time. Brown is a straight bully and knows how to get physical. He's a Matt Rhule type of offensive lineman. Panthers fans should be elated with this pick.
DL Daviyon Nixon
After the Panthers cut ties with Kawann Short, I had a hunch Carolina would add at least one young guy through the draft and they do exactly that with Daviyon Nixon in the 5th. The addition of DaQuan Jones assures that Nixon won't have to be rushed into a significant role which will allow him to continue to develop. He's not going to overwhelm anyone with his strength but is very athletic and uses his lateral speed to his advantage.
CB Keith Taylor Jr.
Taylor is going to be a bit of a project that the Panthers hope turns out to be a quality late-round selection. Taylor has good size, quick hips, and good play recognition but needs to refine other areas of his game including challenging the ball in the air. Don't see too much playing time for him early on in his career. Carolina will hope he can finally put it all together and become a decent depth player.
WR Shi Smith
Shi Smith was a really explosive wide receiver at South Carolina but was never able to ascend into being one of the best receivers in the SEC which mainly was due to poor quarterback play throughout his career. He's had some experience as a returner as well, so that could be one way he earns some playing time right out of the gate. Aside from that, he's a good 6th or 7th option in that receiver room but has the ability to grow into a bigger role over the next few years.
LS Thomas Fletcher
It was surprising to see the Panthers take a long snapper in the draft but they felt really good about him and believe he could help this team immediately. Veteran J.J. Jansen is still on the roster as of today but may not be by the time the season rolls around.
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