4 realistic targets Panthers QB Sam Darnold can achieve in 2021

Dean Jones
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Sam Darnold
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Sam Darnold /
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Sam Darnold
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold and Matt Rhule /

What are some realistic numbers quarterback Sam Darnold can potentially achieve during his first season with the Carolina Panthers in 2021?

The stakes are incredibly high for Sam Darnold next season.

His trade to the Carolina Panthers was met with a mixed response from the team’s fanbase, who were hoping for something a little more extravagant. But they appear to be willing to give the former USC a chance to prove he was simply a victim of his toxic environment on the New York Jets during the first three seasons of his career.

Darnold drew praise from head coach Matt Rhule and running back Christian McCaffrey for the way he’s adjusted to new surroundings during voluntary OTAs and mandatory minicamp. This is just the first step of a pivotal summer of preparation before the signal-caller takes the field in Week 1 against his old team in front of a packed crowd at Bank of America Stadium.

The talent is clearly there.

But whether Darnold can put it all together is another matter entirely.

His decision-making has been suspect at best and there are also questions that need to be answered about his ability to throw consistently out of the pocket.

That being said, Darnold could have easily ended up in a far worse situation than the one he finds himself in right now. The Panthers are loaded with weapons in the passing game and also possess the NFL’s best dual-threat running back in McCaffrey for the signal-caller to lean on.

All positive signs.

But what comes next will ultimately come down to whether Darnold has what it takes.

With this in mind, here are some realistic number targets Darnold can achieve for the Panthers in 2021.