How does the Carolina Panthers' young core of building blocks stack up against the league's best heading into the upcoming 2023 season?
It's been an outstanding offseason that has completely shifted the Carolina Panthers' trajectory. No longer is this once-proud organization the league's laughing stock under Matt Rhule - there is a clear purpose and professionalism to get them back to prominence at the earliest possible opportunity.
Frank Reich is a tone-setter in his own right. However, the coaching staff he assembled was a major statement of intent and something team owner David Tepper bankrolled with almost unlimited financial resources as promised.
Aggressiveness is another keyword when examining Carolina's moves since the 2022 campaign concluded. General manager Scott Fitterer wasted no time in stamping his mark on the franchise after the Panthers moved to a more traditional method of recruitment, which saw calculated risks, impressive signings, and magnificent salary-cap maneuvering for good measure.
Carolina Panthers core tabbed unproven by ESPN
This leaves the Panthers with a more stable core. One that can hopefully provide the catalyst behind long-term prosperity after years of languishing in the proverbial football wilderness.
While this is positive, it's not like teams around the league have been sitting on their hands. But how does Carolina's core stack up against other NFL teams heading into the 2023 season?
The topic was recently investigated further by Seth Walder of ESPN Analytics. After choosing Bryce Young, Brian Burns, Jaycee Horn, Derrick Brown, and Taylor Moton as the Panthers' core, the writer placed them at No. 24 thanks in no small part to having an unproven quarterback.
"The four names after [Bryce] Young are good-to-very-good players either entering or in their prime. But none are truly elite at their respective positions, so it's hard to see Carolina being any higher here with a totally unproven quarterback, even if he was the No. 1 overall pick in April."- Seth Wslder, ESPN Analytics
Young is unproven - at least right now. However, that won't be the case for much longer if the Alabama product brings his exceptional opening to workouts into a competitive environment.
Carolina has bet the house on Young becoming their franchise signal-caller. Someone that can take games over with supreme poise, precision, a flawless demeanor, and killer instinct.
This is a position group that's proven to be a highly complex riddle to solve under the previous regime. In hindsight, releasing Cam Newton was a mistake, but there is legitimate hope for the future at long last.
Having such an outstanding coaching staff could also propel the players available to greater heights. The Panthers are willing to give everyone a chance to shine without Rhule's incompetence holding them back, which is a method that might not be successful for everyone looking at the career trajectory for some.
Walder's ranking was a fair one looking at the grand scheme of things. If Young shines and others also raise their respective contributions, then expect the Panthers to be much higher on this list next year.
Reich will have them ready, there's no getting away from that. An NFC South title challenge cannot be dismissed, but it could also be a rocky road until everything clicks together.
Either way, the future is bright.