How important is Jeremy Chinn’s transition back to safety in 2021?

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Jeremy Chinn
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Jeremy Chinn /

How important is Jeremy Chinn’s transition back to his preferred position of safety for the Carolina Panthers during the 2021 season?

One of the more intriguing elements to keep a close eye on when the Carolina Panthers take the field in 2021 is Jeremy Chinn moving into the secondary. The former second-round pick made a telling contribution as an outside linebacker during his rookie campaign, reaching the sort of levels few expected considering his unfamiliarity playing the position.

The Panthers moved up in the 2020 NFL Draft to select Chinn, who was listed as a safety and dominated for Southern Illinois in this role. After a season at the second level, Carolina is now looking to slot the player back into his preferred position alongside Juston Burris during the upcoming campaign.

This has the potential to be a smart move by the coaching staff.

Safety is a positional group that became inconsistent last season thanks to Tre Boston’s inconsistency and Burris failing to build on a strong start thanks to a rib injury.

Boston is no longer around after being released just one season into his contract extension. Carolina is therefore hoping the presence of Chinn will see Burris return to the eye-catching form we saw from the player over the first few games of the season.

Chinn has rapidly become an integral part of the plans in Carolina. He typifies everything Matt Rhule is trying to create; athleticism and aggressiveness with the production to match.

There is some speculation surrounding how Chinn will be deployed in 2021.

Carolina Panthers might not use Jeremy Chinn on the line of scrimmage as much.

A league source told analyst and Cat Crave contributor John Ellis that the Panthers are keen to avoid him getting beat up at the line of scrimmage this time around, focusing their attention on the second-year-pro making a difference at the second level and throughout the secondary.

Not a bad decision by any stretch of the imagination.

And the Panthers have enough on their front seven to ensure plays should come early and often in games.

Chinn is still going to make a difference. He’s one of those rare talents that not only has supreme physical traits, but the do-it-all defender also benefits from a high football IQ and incredible instincts to be around the football consistently.

A least from early impressions, Chinn has made a smooth adjustment back to safety during Panthers training camp. Hopefully, this is a trend that can continue when business picks up in the regular season that being in Week 1 against the New York Jets.

Carolina’s defense could be set for a major leap in 2021. If they want to become one of the league’s best, then Chinn has to adapt – and quickly – to playing a different way.

Nothing he isn’t more than capable of, obviously.

After all, this was the position where the Panthers drafted him to play after a standout career in college from Chinn’s perspective.

This is just another dynamic to what’s going to be a fascinating second season under Rhule. All the components seem to be there outside of a couple of problem areas, so it might see the organization become a real surprise package when it’s all said and done.

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Chinn is a tone-setter and a phenomenal talent. That should not change in the slightest despite switching positions for the second straight year.