5 Panthers position groups that might be better than expected in 2021

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Juston Burris
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Juston Burris /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Carolina Panthers QB

We get it, Sam Darnold has done absolutely nothing throughout his three-year NFL career so far.

But that might be about to change.

The Carolina Panthers made a daring splash to acquire Darnold from the New York Jets, gambling three draft picks on the No. 3 overall selection in 2018 revitalizing himself in more progressive surroundings.

Nothing is guaranteed. And it’s clear Darnold’s time as a starter is hanging in the balance.

However, the impression he left both during training camp and when he took the field in Carolina’s final preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers definitely suggests hopes are higher now than when the trade was confirmed.

Looking at the talent around Darnold, he cannot fluff his lines this time.

Simply put, it would take a monumental effort to turn his fortunes around if he were to fail on the Panthers.

Much will obviously depend on how the offensive line protects their signal-caller. But he showed from a clean pocket against the Steelers that his decision-making and footwork are coming on gradually.

It’s when Darnold’s under duress that’s the problem.

The fate of Carolina’s 2021 season depends on Darnold making strides. Judging by how he’s settled, don’t bet against it by any stretch.