4 biggest challenges awaiting the Carolina Panthers in 2021

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /
4 of 5
Carolina Panthers
(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Taylor Moton /

Who starts on the offensive line?

If the Carolina Panthers truly want Sam Darnold to thrive as their quarterback in 2021 and beyond, they’ve got to get their protection sorted one way or another. This is an area of the field that folded in crucial moments in 2020 and if the same happens again next time around, it’s going to come with some pretty big ramifications.

Keeping Taylor Moton around was critical and something that was a no-brainer for the Panthers. The stud right tackle is on the franchise tag next season while a new deal hopefully gets worked out and if he keeps up his outstanding level of production we’ve seen over the last three years, it’s going to help enormously.

What production comes from their remaining positions is unclear.

The Panthers opted not to bring back Russell Okung in free agency after the Pro Bowler appeared in just seven games due to injury. They drafted BYU’s Brady Christensen in the third round who could fill the void, but he might be better suited to guard at the next level when it’s all said and done.

It appears highly unlikely that Cam Erving can become a franchise left tackle judging by his time in the role so far. Greg Little’s career in Carolina is hanging by a thread and Trenton Scott also comes with some inconsistent play.

Matt Paradis will man the center spot after restricting his contract, but questions remain about who plays alongside him on the interior. The likes of Pat Elflein, John Miller, Dennis Daley, David Moore, and Deonte Brown will fight it out for those positions, with the prospect of using Erving as a guard also under consideration.