5 Panthers players who could get slapped with the bust label in 2021

(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Donte Jackson
(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Donte Jackson /
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Carolina Panthers
(Alex Hicks Jr./Spartanburg Herald-Journal via IMAGN Content Services) Sam Darnold /

Sam Darnold – Carolina Panthers QB

As far as players with most on the line in 2021, Sam Darnold has to be right up there. The Carolina Panthers are giving the player one more shot to prove beyond doubt he is a starting-caliber NFL quarterback, acquiring him from the New York Jets after an exhaustive search to find a potential upgrade on Teddy Bridgewater.

Whether he can make the most of it is the million-dollar question.

Darnold has the arm strength and velocity on his throws to push the football downfield consistency. Certainly better than Bridgewater managed during his one and only season in Carolina.

However, being a productive signal-caller is much more than that.

The former USC star needs to improve his footwork, decision-making, and ability to make the correct reads when pressure inevitably comes. Darnold’s made a solid if not spectacular start to life with the Panthers, producing some memorable highlights at camp that should be a solid foundation from which to build.

It won’t take long to find out whether or not Darnold can be the guy in Carolina. If things don’t pan out as expected and this team is ready to win now, then expect the organization to go bold in pursuit of landing a veteran that can take them where they want to go.

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Should Darnold fail again with the number of weapons on the Panthers, then his career will be tagged with the bust label.