Panthers draft Corn Elder in fifth round

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CHARLOTTE – The Panthers kicked off the third day of the 2017 NFL Draft by spending their fifth-round choice on Miami (Fla.) cornerback Corn Elder.

Before we get to his football résumé, let's address the elephant in the room. 

"My name is actually Cornelius," said Cornelius Marquis Elder on a conference call from his home in Nashville. "But everybody calls me Corn."

A top-30 running back in high school, Elder shifted to defense when he arrived in Miami. The move worked out well for the Hurricanes and Elder, who led the team in pass breakups his final two seasons. 

"He's smart and instinctive," general manager Dave Gettleman said. "He plays nickel and outside. He's a tough, tough kid."

The knock on the 5-foot-10, 183-pound Elder is his size. Those measurables earmark him for competition primarily in the slot, where the Panthers are expected to start 5-9, 195-pound Captain Munnerlyn

"A lot of people question my size, but if you turn on the film, you can't tell it," Elder said, sounding remarkably similar to Munnerlyn. "I'm a physical player. I love to tackle and that's what I'm going to bring to this team. I'm going to bring that passion and everything to the field."

During his first three seasons at Miami, Elder was used a handful of times on kickoff and punt returns, and head coach Ron Rivera said he's the type of player who could contribute on special teams right away. None of Elder's contributions in college were as memorable than what he did against Duke his junior year:

In one of the more controversial college football plays in recent memory, Elder took the last of eight Hurricane laterals in for the winning score, a result that held up despite several questionable decisions by referees during the return. 

"I really couldn't breathe," Elder said when asked what it was like at the bottom of a pile of celebrating teammates. "I was so tired from the play, I was trying to get them to get off me."

But was the play legal?

"We won the game," Elder replied. "It was a touchdown, so yeah, it was legal."

View photos of the Carolina Panthers' 2017 fifth-round draft pick Corn Elder.

CHARLOTTE – The Panthers kicked off the third day of the 2017 NFL Draft by spending their fifth-round choice on Miami (Fla.) cornerback Corn Elder. 

A top-30 running back at his Nashville high school, Elder shifted to defense when he arrived in Coral Gables. The move worked out well for the Hurricanes and Elder, who grew into a first-team All-ACC player by his senior season. 

The knock on the 5-foot-10, 183-pound Elder coming into the pros is his size. But he could compete at nickel corner, and he may even get some looks at kickoff and punt returns. 

The Panthers would have started Saturday with a fourth-round pick (No. 115), but they sent that and their original third-round choice (No. 98) to Arizona on Friday night in exchange for the 77th pick, which they used on defensive end Daeshon Hall. 

The Panthers now have two picks left in this year's draft (sixth round, 192nd; seventh round, 233rd). 

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