Winner No. 2
Donte Jackson - Carolina Panthers CB
After the Carolina Panthers didn't get the necessary compensation package for Donte Jackson at the 2023 trade deadline, their remaining games represent something of an audition for the veteran cornerback to stick around beyond the current campaign. Although many won't admit it due to their agendas, the former second-round selection has turned things up over the last few weeks.
Jackson was once again one of the team's standout performers on Thursday night. He looked assured in coverage more often than not and also made a few eye-catching run stops during a polished performance overall.
There was an added sense of motivation for Jackson against the man drafted in the same 2018 class, D.J. Moore. But this sort of energy and spark was exactly what the Panthers were hoping for when they opted to keep the LSU product on the roster rather than ship him out for modest capital.
This game is where the Panthers needed Jackson to perform up to or above expectations. Carolina didn't have the benefit of C.J. Henderson in the secondary and it doesn't appear as if Jaycee Horn will be back anytime soon despite encouraging reports surrounding his hamstring rehabilitation.
Thankfully for the Panthers, Jackson responded as all good leaders do. Like it or not, that's exactly what he is to this under-strength team right now.