UPDATE: As of April 5th, the Carolina Panthers have acquired QB Sam Darnold to the in exchange for one of their three 2021 sixth-round picks, though it’s unclear which at this point, along with second and fourth-round picks in 2022.
The Carolina Panthers will look to bounce back from a 5-11 season in 2020. This can probably be said about most teams with bad records, but there were several close games against quality opponents where the Panthers just couldn’t come out on top.
Carolina suffered a brutal loss early with an injury to star running back Christian McCaffrey, as the Panthers went through most of the season without a key runner and pass catcher in that offense. Carolina ranked about average in many team stats on both sides of the ball, so there’s work to do all over the place to become a solid unit.
Panthers 2021 Draft Picks
Round 1: No. 8, CB Jaycee Horn
Round 2: No. 59, WR Terrace Marshall Jr.
Round 3: No. 70, OT Brady Christensen; No. 83, TE Tommy Tremble
Round 4: No. 126, RB Chuba Hubbard
Round 5: No. 158, DT Daviyon Nixon; No. 166, CB Keith Taylor
Round 6: No. 193, OG Deonte Brown; No. 204, WR Shi Smith; No. 222, LS Thomas Fletcher
Round 7: No. 232, DT Phil Hoskins
Teddy Bridgewater did not play poorly last season, completing nearly 70% of his passes for 3,733 yards. His touchdown-to-interception rate wasn’t great with 15 scores to 11 picks, but Bridgewater isn’t the long-term answer for this organization. He is about as average as it gets at the quarterback position, and he won’t get the fan base going quite like a first-round quarterback would.
Update: Since this article was originally published, the Carolina Panthers have traded Teddy Bridgewater to the Denver Broncos in exchange for a 2021 sixth-round pick at No. 191 overall.
There is enough to fix on the defensive side of the ball for Carolina, and the Panthers would be wise to go after a player in the secondary. The organization signed Rashaan Melvin to a one-year deal, which is his 10th NFL team at age 31, so Carolina likely needs to make another move at the other cornerback position opposite of Donte Jackson. Corner is increasingly more important with the incredible passing attacks across the NFL, so it would be a surprise to see the Panthers not go after a cornerback in the draft if no other moves are made at the position before then.
Dream first pick
Mac Jones, QB - Alabama
Trade movement near top of the draft certainly hurt the Panthers’ chance to get one of the top four quarterbacks in this year’s draft class, but they could do well with Mac Jones, who will likely be available for them to select with the eighth pick. While not a huge upgrade or downgrade over Teddy Bridgewater and not a downgrade early on, he is a much cheaper option for the next few years as the Panthers evaluate if he’s the right man for the job long term.