3 players the Carolina Panthers must make room for on their final 2023 roster

- The imposing DL

- The resurgent CB

- The progressive RB

Marquan McCall
Marquan McCall / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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Keith Taylor Jr. - Carolina Panthers CB

This one will likely draw a bevy of sighs from most readers. I get it – Keith Taylor Jr. had some seriously disappointing showings last season.

But follow my reasoning and let’s explore my madness with an open mind… deal?

The former Washington Husky standout is just 24 years old. He’s embarking upon his third season as an NFL player, but it's his first with an NFL coaching staff.

Taylor seems to have relied strictly on his physical abilities up to this point in the league. When he’s found himself in trouble, it often stems from the cornerback's tenancy to drift out of position and/or being behind from a diagnosing standpoint.

For the defense that the Carolina Panthers coaching staff is purposely putting together, the 6-foot-3 boundary corner is what I consider a necessary luxury. It’s not that he’s the make-it-or-break-it piece of this puzzle. But the assurance that he could provide to a unit that is desperately needing solidifying depth, is almost invaluable.

This team doesn’t need Taylor to start opposite Jaycee Horn at the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1. The Panthers need him to specifically develop and turn that proverbial corner so that if and when his number is called, the 2021 fifth-round selection is confidently prepared to step in.

C.J. Henderson came up with a groin tweak in practice on Monday. Donte Jackson is coming off of a serious Achilles injury last season. By all accounts, he’s fully recovered and has looked terrific, for what it’s worth. Horn unfortunately has not put together a full season yet, either.

Taylor will have opportunities. Ejiro Evero will deploy formations that require five, sometimes even six, defensive backs on the field at the same time.

I watched Taylor in 1-on-1 drills last Saturday, where he demonstrated the mirroring abilities you look for in an outside cornerback. He had a highlight interception of rookie Bryce Young in practice on Tuesday morning, making a beautiful toe tap to complete the play.

Encouraging signs are there. Taylor’s got every tool you want in the toolbox and now he’s got elite coaching at his disposal.

It's sink-or-swim time for Taylor. But this young man has figured out how to swim at every stop along the way thus far.