4 candidates for Carolina Panthers training camp MVP in 2021

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns /
2 of 5
Sam Darnold
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Sam Darnold – Carolina Panthers QB

This one is easy.

Sam Darnold has to play lights out this season to quiet the many doubters that believe he shouldn’t have been the choice to lead the Carolina Panthers moving forward.

Training camp will be a crucial step as the former New York Jets signal-caller learns the new offense and develops chemistry with Carolina’s talent-rich group of skill position players.

The Panthers showed their commitment to Darnold when they decided to pass on some of the talented quarterback prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft. Notably Justin Fields, Mac Jones, and Kellen Mond.

Now, the 24-year old USC product has the opportunity to affirm that decision by taking the reins with an elite performance at camp. Something that should give him a solid platform to build a successful campaign when competitive action begins.

The biggest question will be if he can cut down on turnovers and learn to rely on the weapons around him this season. Any signs of progress should give the coaching staff optimism about the quarterback position as they approach the regular-season opener against Darnold’s old team at Bank of America Stadium.