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
(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) Cory Littleton /

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Cory Littleton – Carolina Panthers LB

Although Cory Littleton was a recent signing by the Carolina Panthers in free agency, his spot in the starting lineup is far from guaranteed. The experienced linebacker is expected to work as a tandem on the interior with Damien Wilson thanks to his ability in coverage, but the acquisition of Brandon Smith during the 2022 NFL Draft has the potential to throw a significant spanner in the works.

Smith is very raw but comes to Carolina with every athletic attribute imaginable. His ability in coverage at Penn State was nothing short of outstanding and this was matched by a thumping presence against the run to further enhance his overall influence.

Finding consistent production from the middle linebacker position has been a tough task for the Panthers ever since Luke Kuechly retired. There is also the ongoing cloud surrounding Wilson’s recent arrest to monitor closely and could even lead to the former Super Bowl winner’s release depending on what transpires.

This will obviously have an impact on Littleton’s importance to the Panthers in 2022. But if Wilson sticks around and Smith takes to the next level quickly, then the Washington product will need to work hard to carve out a role for himself.

There are plenty of twists and turns to come at the second level, one suspects. An area of the field that Carolina simply has to get right in pursuit of improvements next season.