Barnes’s speed should help the Panthers on the field

Barnes's speed should help the Panthers on the field

Kalon “Boogie” Barnes is a complete firecracker.The Carolina Panthers rookie cornerback’s biggest issue is whether his outstanding speed will translate to a successful NFL career.

Of course, speed doesn’t always equate to a long career at the NFL level.Barnes, being a seventh-round pick, still has some technique issues to work out as a cornerback and will likely have to carve out a niche as a special teams player before becoming a full-time defender.

Barnes ran a 4.23 40-yard sprint at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, the fastest time by a defensive back since the event began televised in 2003 on the NFL Network. It’s also the second-fastest time overall, trailing only wide receiver John Ross (4.22), who set the combine record in 2017.

But don’t confuse him with being another raw track athlete trying to make it as a football player. He’s been playing football since he was 5 and was a four-star recruit as a wide receiver coming out of high school

It’s no given that Barnes will make the Panthers’ 53-man roster, as they’re crowded depth chart at cornerback includes former first-round draft picks Jaycee Horn and C.J. Henderson and second-round pick Donte Jackson. The team is also high on Keith Taylor, who stood out as a rookie last season.

My daddy went through the same process and he was like, ‘Why would you take that (track) deal when you can get paid on a yearly basis playing football? Track you just get that one deal,’ ” Barnes said.The Panthers selected Barnes 242nd overall, one of several late-round picks that general manager Scott Fitterer called “freakishly athletic.”

But Barnes does have one advantage on his side that other late-round draft picks might not — he played one season for Rhule, who recognizes his potential.

Barnes went to Baylor as a wide receiver but moved to cornerback after the Bears suffered injuries in the secondary. He wound up starting 10 games at cornerback last season, recording 23 tackles, five pass breakups, an interception, and a fumble recovery.

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