Carolina Panthers rookie CB Jaycee Horn honors Kobe Bryant, chooses No. 8 jersey

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- First-round pick Jaycee Horn became the first member of the Carolina Panthers to take advantage of the NFL's new relaxed rule on jersey numbers.

After being selected with the eighth overall pick in the NFL draft, Horn selected No. 8 -- at least in part to honor NBA legend Kobe Bryant.

Horn announced his selection Saturday night with a picture of himself in a black No. 8 jersey and a tweet that said, "New beginnings. #8Ball #RIPKobe."

The NFL recently changed the rules to give players more freedom in selecting jersey numbers. Cornerbacks, for example, no longer are banned from single-digit numbers and can choose from Nos. 1-49.

Horn, the son of former NFL Pro Bowl wide receiver Joe Horn, could have gone several directions. He wore No. 7 his first year at South Carolina in 2018, then switched to No. 1 for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

The No. 1 may not have been an option, as only Cam Newton, the first pick of the 2011 draft, has worn that number for the Panthers in franchise history.

Horn ultimately chose No. 8 after considering other numbers. Asked whether he had considered No. 24, which Bryant wore the last 10 years of his career after wearing No. 8 for the first 10, Horn said: "It's a great number, it's definitely in mind. I'm looking at some of those single digits, too, though.

"My brother was talking to me about it on the way over here [and] changed my mind a little bit. We'll see how it shakes out."

Horn gave an indication of what Bryant meant to him on Jan. 27, when he tweeted to honor his hero a year and a day after Bryant died in a helicopter crash in which his daughter Gianna and seven others also were killed.

The Panthers don't have a great history of players wearing No. 8. The most significant was punter Brad Nortman, who wore the number from 2012 to '15.