5 Carolina Panthers players who could be full-time starters by 2022

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Brady Christensen and Deonte Brown
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Brady Christensen and Deonte Brown /
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Carolina Panthers
(Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Franklin /

Sam Franklin – Carolina Panthers S

There was plenty of encouraging signs regarding Sam Franklin’s production in 2020. He rose from an undrafted free agent with few expectations to a key member of the safety rotation, coming up with some eye-catching plays despite his lack of experience in the pros.

Again, this is another of Matt Rhule’s former college players that the head coach felt could come in and make a difference long-term for the Carolina Panthers. He’s missed on a few, but Franklin looks ready to contribute progressively next season and possibly beyond.

The former Temple star has been getting plenty of first-team reps during training camp. Something that might suggest some additional involvement when competitive action begins.

Franklin deserves tremendous credit for more than holding his own last time around. In just 23 percent of the team’s defensive snaps, he managed to secure 23 tackles, one sack, one pass defended, one tackle for loss, giving up 45.5 percent of catchable balls thrown his way.

Some concerns in coverage have surfaced throughout the current offseason. But the Panthers do have Jeremy Chinn and Justin Burris as their projected starters, so this should allow Franklin enough leeway in a rotational role to keep the pressure off.

If similar strides are made in 2021, he’ll be a prime candidate to elevate into a starting role with Burris out of contract.