Carolina Panthers rookie grades ahead of preseason Week 2

(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Corral
(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Corral /
4 of 4
Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Ikem Ekwonu and Cade Mays /

Cade Mays – Carolina Panthers OL

The offensive line was all over the place during the second half. But Cade Mays looked very strong in a weak unit. He was probably the Carolina Panthers’ best protector on the day.

Mays played at center for most of his time and really held his own. This is exactly what you want to see if you’re the coaching staff who’s trying to rebuild the offensive line unit for short and long-term objectives.

Performance Grade: A

If Mays keeps playing like that it will be very hard to keep him off the field. And the best thing about the Tennessee product is that he is only going to get better working with experienced offensive line coach James Campen during the season.

Kalon Barnes – Carolina Panthers CB

It was a mixed bag for Kalon Barnes against the Washington Commanders. Not entirely unexpected from the Panthers’ final draft pick in 2022.

The speedy cornerback had a beautiful pass breakup on the sideline which showed off his athleticism to break on a ball. But then on the two deep bombs that Sam Howell tested him on, Barnes would likely have been beaten if the pass was better.

Performance Grade: C+

There’s definitely a player in there but Barnes has a lot of polishing to do before he’s ready for some serious minutes. Fortunately, the Panthers are deep at the cornerback position providing the likes of Donte Jackson, Jaycee Horn, and C.J. Henderson remains healthy.

light. Must Read. 5 Carolina Panthers who boosted their stock during Patriots joint practices