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Panthers WR Shi Smith named as surprising breakout candidate for 2023

With all the additions the Carolina Panthers have made at the receiver position this offseason, Shi Smith has kinda gotten lost in the shuffle. But someone just found him.

That someone is our own Jarrett Bailey, who—over at Bears Wire—picked one player from each NFL team who has breakout potential for the 2023 campaign. Bailey, even in a somewhat crowded wideout room, opts for the former sixth-round selection:

Smith was one of my biggest draft crushes in 2021. While on the smaller side, he is very shifty and has the ability to grind out yards underneath while also taking the top off a defense. The Panthers receiving core is somewhat a question mark. They brought in Adam Thielen, but how much top-level play does he have left? Is DJ Chark going to display the caliber of play we saw in Jacksonville a few seasons ago? Smith could earn respect and regular season reps in the preseason.

As Bailey notes, Carolina has some sorting out to do in said wideout room. Heck, wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson even said it himself just a few weeks ago.

While a tad cramped, the group is still without a clear hierarchy—let alone a top target. Thielen, Chark, Terrace Marshall Jr. and rookie Jonathan Mingo can all conceivably vie for that No. 1 tag this summer.

So while that competition is going on, can Smith shine in his own way? Can his shiftiness and ability in the return game make him an impact player for the Panthers in 2023?


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Story originally appeared on Panthers Wire