What grade do the Carolina Panthers deserve for pre-draft moves?

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Sam Darnold
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Sam Darnold /

What grade did The Bleacher Report give the Carolina Panthers for the moves made during what has been a very busy offseason for the franchise?

The Carolina Panthers have been extremely active during the offseason so far as they look to build on a solid start to life under new head coach Matt Rhule. Big changes were expected once again following the appointment of Scott Fitterer as general manager, which has seen plenty of player turnover despite the obvious concerns surrounding the salary-cap reduction of eight percent due to COVID-19 revenue losses.

It’s been a solid start, but nothing more than that. They have some nice young pieces on both sides of the football to build around and another strong batch of college recruits via the 2021 NFL Draft could see the Panthers become surprise contenders for a postseason berth if everything clicks into place right away.

The acquisition of Sam Darnold from the New York Jets certainly gives them more options over the all-important draft weekend. Providing Teddy Bridgewater finds a trade partner, it could see another useful mid-round selection coming their way in the not-too-distant future.

Darnold might work out of he can make a better go of things in a more stable environment. But the jury is still out as to whether this scenario plays out as Carolina expects.

Carolina Panthers receive an encouraging grade from The Bleacher Report.

Gary Davenport of The Bleacher Report recently graded every team’s offseason ahead of the draft, which saw the Panthers receive a creditable B as a result of their decisions so far.

The writer pointed out that Carolina “hasn’t sat on their hands” since the 2019 campaign came to a conclusion – which they deserve credit for. But he did pick out some holes in their acquisitions, which obviously included Darnold and offensive linemen Pat Elflein and Cam Erving.

"Before Darnold even arrived, the Carolina Panthers took steps to improve an offensive line that Pro Football Focus ranked 18th in 2020. Bringing back right tackle Taylor Moton via the franchise tag was a wise move, but Pat Elflein and Cameron Erving will have to reverse their recent struggles to add a real boost up front. Still, the team deserves kudos for attacking the offseason after last year’s 5-11 dud."

Now, the roster should look far different by the time Carolina is done with their draft selections. Hopefully, this should enable Elflein and Erving to be nothing more than rotational pieces with one potentially slotting in a guard alongside John Miller while a rookie with promise gets up to speed.

Getting Darnold will be for nothing if they cannot improve the protection around the former USC star. The weapons in the passing game are already there, so keeping him upright will be of critical importance if the signal-caller wants to reignite his career in a different environment.

Davenport was quick to praise the signings of Denzel Perryman and Haason Reddick, who should boost the front seven considerably. But the writer also reaffirmed the belief that cornerback A.J. Bouye needs to have a bounce-back campaign in 2021 once he returns from suspension.

A lot of Carolina’s moves so far have been done with a leap of faith. If it all comes off, it’s going to bring around some significant improvements. However, if things don’t pan out as expected, then they aren’t tied to almost any free-agent signing from a contractual perspective that would prevent them from moving on quickly.

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Rhule isn’t on the hot seat by any stretch of the imagination, which has provided a sense of freedom. But that won’t be the case for much longer if owner David Tepper is forced to sit through another campaign of losing football.