Former Tennessee Volunteers defensive back Rashaan Gaulden could end up playing a significant role for the Carolina Panthers as a rookie in 2018.

Gaulden, who elected to forgo his final year of eligibility at Tennessee to enter the NFL draft, has been consistently praised through training camp for his physical approach to the safety position.

(Even if he did get a little too physical on one occasion.)

As a result of his consistency, Gaulden received some first team reps early during training camp.

Moving forward, however, Gaulden will likely receive even more opportunities for first team work, due to starting safety Da’Norris Searcy’s recent entry into the concussion protocol.

For what it’s worth, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera sounds extremely confident in Gaulden’s ability, telling reporters “I think Rashaan played well, for a rookie coming in and playing as much as he did. He flashed well. I can’t wait to see the tape and really get a chance to break it down and see how he did.”

Tennessee Vols

Gaulden has taken the right approach to his game during pre-season action. He knows as a young player he’s going to make mistakes, but the important thing is to correct those mistakes.

“I’ve been able to go out there on the field, make my mistakes and correct my mistakes”, said Gaulden after the Panthers’ recent win against the Miami Dolphins.

It’s unclear how long Searcy will be out. He did some light side work on Sunday at practice, but was unable to fully participate.

While Gaulden won’t leapfrog Searcy anytime soon, the extra first team reps (and pre-season action) will be valuable experience for the Spring Hill, TN native.

I think Gaulden will end up, eventually, playing a big role in the Panthers’ secondary. He was a ballhawk at Tennessee and I wouldn’t be surprised if those skills translate to the NFL.

The Panthers probably got themselves a bargain by selecting the former Vol in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Featured image via Charlotte Observer 

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