Grading Panthers position groups on offense after 2022 NFL Draft

(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold
(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /
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Christian McCaffrey
(Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /

Carolina Panthers RBs

Running back for the Carolina Panthers is more of a question mark than I remember it ever being since becoming a fan in the mid-2000s. Much of that hinges on the health of Christian McCaffrey.

It’s easy to forget that the Panthers started 3-0 last year before McCaffrey went down with yet another injury that essentially ended his season or that he is only two seasons removed from a record-setting performance.

If the former All-Pro can remain healthy, this room is quite possibly the most potent overall in the league.

With the way that Chubba Hubbard began to rise to the occasion, and the coaching staff playing to his strengths late in the season, there is every hope the second-year player out of Oklahoma State will be able to take a large portion of the more punishing load from McCaffrey and bring a true bruising image back to the team.

However, for Hubbard to really make an impact there will need to be a massive leap regarding consistency as having only nine rushing yards in a game after going for 40 the previous week just won’t cut it.

Then there is the addition of D’Onta Foreman to consider as well. A player that has experience filling in for an injured superstar on a run-focused team and keeping things afloat until they returned.

Any time you bring in a backup with multiple 100-yard games to their name in the previous season it isn’t a bad thing. I even remember thinking at one point that Derek Henry had come back and then realized it was just Foreman powering through tackles and shrugging off defenders for big gains in his place.

Position Grade: Cautious A

The power attack that Foreman brings is just what this Panthers team has desperately needed for years and thought it would get with Hubbard. It will be interesting to see how much it alters defensive game plans, having to account for a dual-threat backfield again.

With that said, if McCaffrey once again goes down to injury it will be a long season for the Panthers. Especially if Hubbard can’t make the necessary leap in production.

Even with Foreman powering along to wear the defense down it might not be enough to bring this team to the next level.