5 players the Carolina Panthers could have drafted instead of Jaycee Horn in 2021

Jaycee Horn and Pat Surtain II
Jaycee Horn and Pat Surtain II / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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Carolina Panthers could have drafted Justin Fields

Before you all shout, I know the Carolina Panthers have Bryce Young now and I rate him as a better prospect than Justin Fields. However, for the sake of the topic at hand, it’s impossible to talk about the No. 8 overall pick without mentioning the former Ohio State star. 

Anyone with common sense would have known when the Panthers traded for Sam Darnold and immediately picked up his fifth-year option the team would not be selecting a quarterback - whether that be Fields or Alabama’s Mac Jones. However, fans still tried to talk themselves into a future signal-caller being the pick.

After sitting behind Andy Dalton in 2021, Fields was the starter for 2022. Despite flashes, he was one of the league’s worst quarterbacks leading the Chicago Bears to just three wins and the No. 1 pick which they would subsequently trade to Carolina.

Some context is needed here. The Bears’ skill position players and offensive line were among the worst in the league - but that's not the case heading into 2023.

This is a big year for Fields. Having a competent offensive line and a true No. 1 in D.J. Moore will tell us if the player has the necessary skills to succeed in the league.

But what if the player would have joined the Panthers instead of Jaycee Horn?

The thought of a rookie Fields behind an offensive line containing the likes of Cam Erving and John Miller being coached by Matt Rhule is true nightmare fuel. It’s likely the player would have looked worse than he has in Chicago.

Behind the Panthers’ revamped offensive line in 2022 - which enabled Carolina to win seven games despite the quarterback carousel - may have allowed Fields to succeed. 

But with the Panthers now hoping Young becomes the face of the franchise, any thought of what could have been with Fields might soon be a thing of the past.