Donte Jackson highlights strong Panthers rookie class

Donte Jackson, the second-round pick out of LSU, could start at cornerback along with James Bradberry. Chuck Burton/AP Photo

A breakdown of the Carolina Panthers' 2018 draft class and its progress after three weeks of training camp:

D.J. Moore, WR, Round 1: As advertised, yards after the catch are his strength. He just hasn't shown it consistently. Moore would be the fourth receiver, perhaps fifth, the way 2017 second-round pick Curtis Samuel has performed this preseason.

Donte Jackson, CB, Round 2: Pencil him as the starter opposite James Bradberry. He still makes rookie mistakes, but he makes up for them with his speed. Jackson brings a much-needed swagger to the secondary. He held the ball like a waiter would hold a platter after returning a Cam Newton pick 100 yards in training camp.

Rashaan Gaulden, S, Round 3: He has turned heads with his speed and aggressiveness. Gaulden is Carolina's future at free safety even if Da'Norris Searcy opens the season as the starter.

Ian Thomas, TE, Round 4: Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen can't imagine a rookie tight end playing better than Thomas, who has been smooth as a receiver and solid as a blocker. You see why Carolina traded up to get him.

Jermaine Carter Jr., LB, Round 5: He has flashed pressuring the quarterback. Carter is a big reason why coach Ron Rivera called this the best linebacker room he's had behind starters Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis and Shaq Thompson.

Andre Smith, LB, Round 7: His progress has been slowed by a tweaked hamstring suffered in the preseason opener. Smith still has a chance to be a solid contributor on special teams, though.

Kendrick Norton, DT, Round 7: He won't crack the four-man rotation of Kawann Short, Dontari Poe, Kyle Love and Vernon Butler. Norton is the drafted rookie who is at most risk of not making the 53-man roster.