Panthers kick off draft's final day with TE Ian Thomas

Greg Olsen has company in Carolina.

The Panthers kicked off Day 3 of the draft by nabbing tight end Ian Thomas out of Indiana at No. 101 overall in the fourth round Saturday.

Thomas is an uber-athletic, pass-catching tight end who drew comparisons to Antonio Gates from NFL Media draft expert Daniel Jeremiah.

"He's got athletic traits and upside," said fellow draft sage Mike Mayock, who praised Thomas as a "very physical" specimen who has teams "intrigued by his upside."

"Has not played a lot of football," one scout told Bob McGinn of BobMcGinnFootball.com. "A good move guy. Very good athlete. He's going to shine as a receiver first. He can be a matchup problem for linebackers. He will block. He has improved his strength. He's tough. He's been through a lot in his life to get to where he is. He has proven he can overcome adversity."

In Carolina, Thomas will join fellow tight ends Olsen, Chris Manhertz, Evan Baylis and Kent Taylor. For now, Olsen remains the centerpiece after inking a two-year, $17.1 million extension through 2020.

Thomas, though, could see time right away as a complimentary weapon bursting with raw physical traits and exciting potential for the Panthers.

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