Ranking the 7 best Panthers players under 25-years-old in 2021

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns /
2 of 7
Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

. . . SAM DARNOLD. 6. player. 87

Sam Darnold – Carolina Panthers QB

  • Age – 24

It’s hard to believe that Sam Darnold is still just 24-years-old. The quarterback already has three years of starting experience under his belt, although things didn’t exactly go according to plan during his time with the New York Jets.

That being said, the Carolina Panthers see something in Darnold.

Whether he can actually live up to this remains to be seen. But the former USC star has far more upside than someone like Teddy Bridgewater, who was shipped to the Denver Broncos after a less than stellar 2020 campaign.

Darnold has to hit the ground running and make the most out of some outstanding weapons in the passing game. He’ll also have Christian McCaffrey alongside him in the backfield, which isn’t the worst security blanket to call upon by any stretch of the imagination.

This is still a big gamble by the Panthers, who’ll be on the lookout for yet another starting quarterback in 2022 if Darnold cannot meet his objectives. Not exactly the best way to build a winning franchise and something that could pile some unnecessary pressure on head coach Matt Rhule in the process.

The No. 3 overall selection in 2018 seems to have settled in well, which is always half the battle.

Darnold has to build on this when the pads go on at training camp. And if the signal-caller was looking for any extra momentum heading into Week 1, going up against the team that gave up on him could be the perfect springboard to a much-improved campaign.