CHARLOTTE – Moments after the 2017 NFL Draft concluded, the Panthers moved to add two of the top players who didn't hear their name called.
Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware and Mississippi State wide receiver Fred Ross have been secured as undrafted rookie free agents and will take part in the Panthers' rookie minicamp that begins Friday.
Boulware won the Jack Lambert Award this past season, given annually to the nation's top linebacker, and was named Most Valuable Defensive Player in Clemson's victory over Alabama for the College Football Playoff title.
"Here's a young man that's in our back yard that went undrafted – I'm not quite sure why," head coach Ron Rivera said. "He's been very successful in his career and played on a very successful team and helped lead them to a national championship. He's a winner."
A two-year starter for the Tigers, Boulware finished his senior season with 113 tackles, including 11.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. In addition to 352 career tackles, the 6-foot, 238-pounder recorded five career interceptions.
"He's instinctive. He's tough. He will tag your fanny," general manager Dave Gettleman said. "He's smart. He's all the stuff we're looking for."
Ross is one of the most prolific pass catchers in Southeastern Conference history, ranking as Mississippi State's all-time leader in receptions with 199 and yards with 2,528. The 6-1, 213-pounder became the first receiver in school history named first-team All-SEC in consecutive seasons after leading the SEC with 12 touchdown receptions in 2016.