State of the Panthers: Pre-training camp roster outlook in 2021

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold and Matt Rhule
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold and Matt Rhule /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Taylor Moton /

Carolina Panthers OL

Any team that has aspirations of hoisting the Vince Lombardi trophy has to have a complete unit, or at least very close to one, as opposing squads will look to exploit any perceived weaknesses or holes in the armor.

Much like the Denver Broncos did in Super Bowl 50 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers accomplished last season. Both involved the revolving door that was an offensive tackle, Mike Remmers.

That one weakness was a large factor in taking the Kansas City Chiefs from champions to runners-up as the only time Patrick Mahomes wasn’t running for his life was when he was sitting on the bench. Suffering a truly staggering 10 quarterback hits, nine pass deflections, and three sacks.

Not to mention the absolute mauling Jared Goff endured in his lone Super Bowl appearance.

When we look at the past five or so champions they all have one thing in common, a solid offensive line with at least one big name, and preferably two, that can keep their quarterback comfortable and upright.

The Chiefs had multiple first-round picks on their championship line including No.1 overall Eric Fisher locking up Mahomes’ blindside. While last year’s Buccaneers squad was anchored by two tackles and a center that haven’t played less than 15 games in the last three seasons and a budding stud in Tristan Wirfs.

When we look at the current Carolina Panthers squad, the only surefire name on the chart is recently signed stud Taylor Moton. And while he is an excellent player to be sure, there’s only so much a right tackle can do to try and keep a largely average to mediocre line afloat.

Offseason additions of Cam Erving, even though he was a starter in the Chiefs victory, and Pat Elflein did little to boost confidence that the line will be any better in 2021.

As Erving struggled to a paltry 58 PFF grade and Elflein wasn’t seen as good enough to keep around a mediocre New York Jets team and posted an even worse 48-grade last season.

If anything, those moves made fans question the decision-making of the front office. After all, the offensive line is not the place to go cheap after all.

To be fair, 2021 draft picks Brady Christensen, Deonte Brown, and even blocking tight end Tommy Tremble, give some hope for the future of Carolina’s protection. However, we cannot expect, and shouldn’t force them, to start right away as that rarely ends well.

With some exceptions, it generally takes at least two years for a player to develop into a solid starter in the league. Feeding them to the wolves too early can shatter their confidence.

So while there are certainly some excellent blocks to build on with the young players coming in and an absolute masterpiece in Moton locking up the right side for years to come, this squad has a long way to go before it can even be remotely championship-worthy.