4 Panthers players who could benefit most from strong 2021 NFL Draft

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Jeremy Chinn
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Jeremy Chinn /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Sam Darnold – Carolina Panthers QB

The Carolina Panthers are banking on Sam Darnold being a product of his environment with the New York Jets rather than just another NFL Draft bust. This represents a big opportunity for the player to take a talented offense over the hump and potentially achieve a winning record in 2021, something Teddy Bridgewater might have been able to achieve had he not gone 0-8 on game-winning or tying drives that ultimately cost him his job.

Now that the Panthers have Darnold, it is absolutely imperative they put the right pieces around him. If they don’t and the signal-caller fails, the decision-makers will be back to square one in their pursuit of finding a long-term replacement for Cam Newton.

Getting Darnold a franchise left tackle, a starting-caliber guard, and a reliable pass-catching tight end to go alongside Dan Arnold are top priorities. If the Panthers can also get a nice wide receiver and a backup running back later on in the draft, the former USC star wouldn’t complain a bit.

The protection comes first due to Carolina already possessing some outstanding weapons such as Christian McCaffrey, Robby Anderson, and D.J. Moore. There is a lot of pressure on Darnold during what appears to be his final chance of being a successful starter in the NFL, so a good draft could benefit him more than anybody.