4 Carolina Panthers players who must rebound in 2021

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) Shaq Thompson
(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) Shaq Thompson /
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Carolina Panthers
(Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports) Troy Pride Jr. /

Troy Pride Jr. – Carolina Panthers CB

There was plenty of raised eyebrows when the Carolina Panthers selected Notre Dame speedster Troy Pride Jr. in round four of the 2020 NFL Draft. The cornerback was seen as a raw prospect with a ton of upside who might not be ready to make an instant impression, which proved to be the case during a rookie campaign littered with inconsistencies.

This is not uncommon for cornerbacks during their first year at the next level.

The “sink or swim” scenario first-year corners find themselves in against exceptional receiving talent across the league comes with some concerning complications, to put it mildly. One only has to look at the struggles suffered by No. 3 overall selection Jeff Okudah with the Detroit Lions to see that no prospect is a sure thing.

Pride Jr. was not immune to this and was often found wanting when called upon. He did manage 42 tackles, two passes defended, and one tackle for loss from 50 percent of Carolina’s defensive snaps. But he gave up 70.7 percent of catchable balls thrown his way and his dismal 39.3 grade from Pro Football Focus is another strong indication of just how much work the player needs to do this offseason.

The Panthers will give Pride Jr. all the assistance in the world in a bid to make substantial strides this spring. His athleticism and speed going down the field are off the charts. So if he can brush up his technique and improve discipline, then all hope is definitely not lost.