How much pressure is on Panthers OT Cam Erving in 2021?

(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) Cam Erving
(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) Cam Erving /

How much pressure is on offensive tackle Cam Erving during his first season with the Carolina Panthers in 2021?

There is simply no understating how hard it’s been for the Carolina Panthers to find a productive replacement for Jordan Gross. The left tackle retired following the 2013 season after a glittering career with the franchise and it has been a revolving door ever since at one of the most important positions on the field.

The Panthers didn’t make a big splash to improve their fortunes during the offseason. Russell Okung wasn’t brought back just one year after his trade from the Los Angeles Chargers, which was down to health reliability rather than production.

Cam Erving was signed by Carolina early in the free agency period, which was a head-scratcher considering the other options available to them. General manager Scott Fitterer earned some trust for his moves this offseason, but fans have every right to look at the veteran’s prospects with a sense of trepidation.

The former first-round pick stated in a recent presser that the Panthers are going to use him on Sam Darnold’s blindside. Erving is also confident he can make the starting spot his own heading into the campaign.

Although that’s understandable considering the lack of other quality options available to the Panthers, Erving’s time protecting the edge throughout his career has been lackluster at best and it’s going to take a pretty big turnaround to change this perception in 2021.

Had former Oregon stud Penei Sewell fallen one more spot past the Detroit Lions and to the Panthers at No. 8 overall, we probably aren’t having this conversation. And there remains some hope third-round pick Brady Christensen can show enough to potentially become the starter during training camp despite concerns about his arm length at the next level.

But it won’t take long for opposing pass-rushing schemes to target Erving heavily if he wins the job.

Now, before writing this article one felt it was only fair to watch a considerable amount of tape from Erving’s time on the edge since arriving in the league as a first-round selection back in 2015, which has seen him turn out for the Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, and Dallas Cowboys before landing in Carolina.

Three things really stood out where Erving is concerned.

  • A rigid stance.
  • Poor recovery.
  • Slow to the point of attack.

There were flashes of good moments. But it’s hard to see just what the Panthers see in Erving as a left tackle.

Erving might be better suited to the interior, where he’ll have assistance on both sides. The offensive line is sure to be interchangeable during camp and how roster members perform in preseason games is also going to play a huge determining role behind who gets the nod.

It doesn’t appear likely that the Panthers signed Erving to a two-year, $10 million deal that included a $2.5 million signing bonus and $8 million guaranteed for him to sit on the sidelines. But the margin for error will be incredibly slim.

If Erving cannot make a go of things in Carolina, then it’s unlikely he’ll ever be considered as a serviceable starter again. The Panthers have ignored this position for too long, so don’t be surprised if this is their top priority next spring if Darnold shows enough promise under center.

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Erving doesn’t need to be Gross. Not becoming the weak link could suffice.