5 Carolina Panthers players who could become breakout stars in 2022

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Terrace Marshall Jr.
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Terrace Marshall Jr. /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Brady Christensen /

Brady Christensen – Carolina Panthers OL

This name should surprise no one. After being an early third-round choice, fans were hopeful that Brady Christensen could step in and immediately find a starting role on an offensive line that was always expected to struggle.

As the season wore on, it became alarmingly clear that the Carolina Panthers grossly mismanaged Christensen throughout his rookie season. After being one of the premier left tackles in all of college football at BYU, Matt Rhule tried turning him into a guard due to questions surrounding his arm length.

As fans will remember, this was all taking place while Cam Erving was performing like one of the league’s worst tackles.

Due to an injury to Erving, the team was finally forced to play Christensen at his natural position for the last four games of the season. Although he certainly still endured his share of struggles, the rookie also was blatantly an upgrade.

According to Pro Football Focus, Christensen finished as the 64th best tackle in the NFL out of 85. Erving, on the other hand, finished 77th.

Left tackle is a supremely important position, so you hope for better production than what either player was offering. However, Erving was a six-year veteran, while Christensen was in his first NFL season.

Christensen even saved his best performance for last. In Week 18’s matchup at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina’s offensive tackles combined to only surrender one sack against a daunting defensive front.

Christensen received a score of 70.2 from PFF following the matchup, good for the fourth-highest score of any player on Carolina’s offense.

The Panthers will be in the market for upgrades all across the offensive line this offseason. It’s impossible to know what this shuffle could mean for Christensen’s future but one thing is for sure, after we see how the draft and free agency shake out, it will be extremely important for the coaching staff to give him a defined position heading into the next campaign.

This could be at left tackle or left guard, but it is deeply unfair to continue playing a young player in new positions and expect him to perform. Christensen is an athletic offensive lineman that boasts some impressive versatility, so if the team provides him with some clarity in 2022, his influence should grow.