10 most important Panthers players to the team’s chances in 2021

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold and Matt Rhule /

SAM DARNOLD. 1. player. 87. . .

Sam Darnold – Carolina Panthers QB

The weight of the world is on Sam Darnold‘s shoulders in 2021. Those in power within the Carolina Panthers identified the quarterback as someone who could lead them where they want to go, giving up three draft picks to acquire the former first-round selection from the New York Jets.

This is a big-time gamble and one that will see some concerning factors emerge from Carolina’s decision-making process if things don’t pan out as expected. Darnold has shown signs of life during training camp and preseason games, but getting it done in a competitive setting is the most pivotal thing of all.

Although the Panthers have an abundance of talent across their roster, Darnold’s production is undisputedly the most important factor relating to their chances.

If the USC product hit the ground running and builds enough momentum to see him through a tough stretch over the second half of the season, it’ll be a massive bonus. Darnold must improve his decision-making, but he has far more in the way of weapons in Carolina than he ever benefitted from at MetLife Stadium.

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This is Darnold’s final chance to prove he can reach the levels expected when he was taken No. 3 overall in 2018. Carolina is a great spot for him in terms of scheme and playmakers, but making the most of it is ultimately down to the signal-caller himself.