Many observers – at least me – thought the Panthers would take a tight end late in last month’s draft. (Alas, Drake’s Eric Saubert, whom I mocked to Carolina in the seventh round, went two rounds earlier to divisional rival Atlanta.)
The Panthers ended up drafting Georgia Tech kicker Harrison Butker with their final pick. But on Tuesday they took a flier on former LSU tight end DeSean Smith, who participated in Carolina’s rookie minicamp as a tryout player.
To make room on the roster for Smith, the Panthers waived offensive tackle Pearce Slater.
Smith was a four-star recruit and played in the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl coming out of high school in Lake Charles, La. But he never did much with the Tigers.
Smith, 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, had nine catches his first three seasons at LSU before pulling down 10 receptions for 184 yards and a touchdown last season as a senior.
He was not invited to the combine and did not test particularly well at LSU’s pro day in April.
Smith ran the 40 in 4.95 seconds, did 13 reps on the 225-pound bench press and had a vertical leap of 28 1/2 inches.
The Panthers have shown they’re not afraid to take on projects at tight end.
Last year they signed former Division I college basketball player and ex-Australian Rules Football player Eric Wallace in the hopes of making him a tight end. Wallace, who hadn’t played American football since eighth grade in Winston-Salem, is still with the team and one of six tight ends on the roster.