3 Carolina Panthers players forcing their way into the team's plans in 2023

Sam Franklin Jr.
Sam Franklin Jr. / Rich Schultz/GettyImages
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Sam Franklin Jr. - Carolina Panthers DB

We all know that Sam Franklin Jr. is one of the league's most productive special teams performers. But in terms of defensive rotation impact, it's been sketchy at best since he entered the league as an underrated free agent in 2020.

That could change in 2023.

Franklin seems to be benefitting greatly from the presence of improved coaches. There is an extra level of self-confidence as a result, which could be enough for Ejiro Evero to boost his depth chart position within a secondary that comes into the campaign with far more questions than answers.

C.J. Henderson and Keith Taylor Jr. have done well at camp, but whether this transitions into the regular season has yet to be determined. Depending on where the Carolina Panthers deploy Jeremy Chinn, Franklin could be used as a third safety alongside Xavier Woods and Vonn Bell in specific situations thanks to the tools at his disposal.

The former Temple star has the necessary athleticism and seems to be progressing well from a discipline standpoint in coverage. Special teams will be his primary responsibility, but Franklin has the opportunity to flourish further and firmly establish himself as a member of the defensive game plan, too.

There aren't many former Matt Rhule players remaining on the Pathers these days. But in Franklin, they might have someone worth keeping around on a long-term deal if everything goes smoothly in 2023.