6 Panthers players fighting for their jobs following 2022 NFL Draft

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Sam Darnold
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Sam Darnold /
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Carolina Panthers
(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

87. . QB. Carolina Panthers. SAM DARNOLD. 2. player

Sam Darnold – Carolina Panthers QB

Things did not go as Sam Darnold or the Carolina Panthers anticipated following the quarterback’s trade from the New York Jets. A strong start fell apart in rapid fashion behind a torrid offensive line, with the signal-caller’s clear flaws coming to the fore almost immediately after All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey was forced to miss time through injury.

Darnold’s suspect footwork, poor processing, and erratic decision-making left Carolina with no option other than to find an alternative this offseason. Thanks in no small part to Ben McAdoo, the team moved up into the third round and selected Matt Corral at No. 94 overall despite being strongly linked with a trade for Baker Mayfield.

Expecting Corral to come in and win the starting job right away could be unrealistic. However, there is nothing to suggest he cannot push Darnold all the way throughout training camp – the first real battle of the USC product’s four-year professional career to date.

This could go one of two ways for Darnold.

Either he rises to the challenge and finally starts living up to the hype.

Or he will crumble under the pressure and prove beyond all doubt there is no real starting future for the player in Carolina or elsewhere.

This is a monumental task awaiting Darnold this summer. If he fails to show enough and Corral also needs additional time, then one cannot rule out a trade for Mayfield or Jimmy Garoppolo until the former Ole Miss standout is ready.