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) Jeremy Chinn /

Carolina Panthers QB and S

When looking past the offensive line, there are two other areas that beg some concern in the coming year. Namely alongside Jeremy Chinn and the ever-present quarterback problem.

Names like Tyrann Mathieu, Malcolm Jenkins, and Patrick Chung come to mind when looking back at the champions of recent memory, and for good reason. Those players all have either multiple rings or Pro Bowl selections. And all of them had a solid, if not spectacular, running mate.

A wealth of experience and skill that cannot be overrated.

The Carolina Panthers, however, are a mixture of youth and inexperience that tends to be dangerous when going against the pass-happy offenses of today’s NFL.

While Chinn was a revelation in his rookie season at linebacker and a move back to their usual position at safety should bring even more success and shore up that area for years to come, there are two safeties and that’s where the question marks come up.

With projected starter Juston Burris heading up a competition with Sam Franklin and Sean Chandler at training camp, there isn’t much to boost morale in finding a running mate for Chinn.

Burris played admirably and deserves a chance to prove that he can be the answer moving forward based on early-season production. But injuries hampered him late in the season and his production dropped as a result.

Franklin, on the other hand, has developed well but still has a lot to prove to the coaching staff and Chandler was never able to really break out during his time with the Seattle Seahawks. Not necessarily a recipe for success.

If a safety can’t keep you safe then there isn’t much use for them in the end.

So with that said, the Panthers should be on the lookout for either a young prospect or an aging veteran that teams have overlooked this offseason to help shore up and possibly mentor a very young squad.

Not having that reliable safety net is a recipe for disaster with more speedsters like Tyreek Hill floating around the league.

And now, we need to address the elephant in the room.

When speaking of the quarterback position, the less said the better as it has been talked about way too much recently even for how important it is to a team’s success.

All that needs to be said is this, Sam Darnold needs to prove that his struggles were the result of a bad situation, inept coaching, and an even worse organization. If he does, that will jumpstart the Panthers rebuild and set them up very nicely in the years to come.

But at this point, it’s still the biggest of question marks.