4 second-year Panthers players under pressure following 2022 draft

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Shi Smith
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Shi Smith /
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Carolina Panthers
(Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports) Troy Pride Jr. /

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Troy Pride Jr. – Carolina Panthers CB

Although Troy Pride Jr. is entering his third season, he gets a spot on this list because he missed the entire 2021 season after getting seriously injured in training camp. This was a body blow to the speedy cornerback and given the reinforcements acquired by the Carolina Panthers since the unfortunate event, it’s essential he hits the ground running when medically cleared to do so.

Pride went through some growing pains on the field in 2020. Not entirely unexpected for players at the position and especially considering he was a fourth-round pick.

There were some lapses in coverage and Pride did look overawed on occasions. This was another of Carolina’s draft picks with exceptional athletic traits that needed refinement, but the task awaiting the player now appears extremely steep if he wants to become a key member of the defensive back rotation next time around.

This will depend on how Pride comes back when healthy. Knee injuries do take time to properly heal and the corner also needs to find his football legs once again after so long away from the practice field.

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Adding seventh-rounder Kalon Barnes – who has a lot of similar traits – could mean the writing is on the wall for Pride. But the Panthers would be wise to give him a fair shot before forming a conclusion.