5 young Panthers players with big opportunities under Steve Wilks

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Steve Wilks and Chuba Hubbard
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Steve Wilks and Chuba Hubbard /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Keith Taylor Jr. /

Keith Taylor Jr. – Carolina Panthers CB

Considering how well Keith Taylor Jr. performed during his rookie season in 2021, it was a huge surprise to see him out of favor early in the campaign. The former fifth-round selection clearly didn’t impress previous head coach Matt Rhule enough to warrant significant reps, with the former Baylor man opting to move forward with Jaycee Horn, Donte Jackson, and C.J. Henderson as his starting cornerback trio.

Now that Rhule is no longer part of the equation, Steve Wilks wasted no time in getting more minutes into Taylor. Although much of this also had to do with an injury suffered by Horn that’s kept him out of the last two contests.

However, Taylor has done enough to suggest he can surpass Henderson on the depth chart. The Florida product and Jackson are inconsistent at best, so there won’t be a better time to see what they have in younger players before deciding on their next step in 2023.

Dropping Jackson appears unrealistic given his locker room influence. But Henderson is a completely different story despite building a close relationship with Wilks in training camp.

Taylor’s performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 7 was deserving of more involvement. Something the Washington product must take advantage of with a potential new head coach coming into the fold next year.