How important could Terrace Marshall Jr. become to the Carolina Panthers in 2023?

Terrace Marshall Jr.
Terrace Marshall Jr. / Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Is third-year wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. one of the potential big keys to the Carolina Panthers offensive success in 2023?

We're two weeks away from the start of the Carolina Panthers training camp. It's easy to see the excitement amongst the fans on social media as debates and discussions over players, coaches, and the roster overall begin to start up after a lull in activity following the team's mandatory minicamp.

One discussion that I have seen on social media is who will be the impactful skill player on offense that will or could be the focal point for rookie quarterback Bryce Young. It's something that many continue to debate over due to the lack of a true No. 1 wide receiver on the roster.

We know Adam Thielen will be a constant chain mover, especially on third downs. We know that when healthy, D.J. Chark is likely the top deep threat on the roster. Tight end Hayden Hurst will be the seam-beater and a reliable target in the middle of the field for Young while Miles Sanders could be the all-around successor to Christian McCaffrey.

However, what do we know about third-year receiver Terrace Marshall Jr.? Despite not becoming a focal point of the offense until halfway through the 2022 season, I believe there is immense talent under the hood with No. 88 that has yet to be unleashed.

With Young as his quarterback, I think Marshall is in a position to become a big key to the Panthers' success on offense this year.

When I attended a training camp practice last season, Marshall displayed the talent that made plenty of draft pundits giddy about his potential development in the NFL. The over-the-shoulder and one-handed catches were a consistent thing for him last summer along with continued development as a route runner and creating better separation in the short to intermediate range of the field.

Then, Marshall began to deal with nagging hamstring injuries and was essentially a non-factor to the point of being a healthy scratch at the start of the 2022 campaign. Following the firing of former head coach Matt Rhule, you saw the flashes that were displayed in training camp on a game-to-game basis, including a four-catch, 87-yard performance at the Atlanta Falcons that saw the 2021 second-round pick make big grabs downfield late in proceedings.

Now, we enter his third season in the pros with an exciting rookie quarterback whose accuracy was a significant selling point of his game in college. As I view Marshall currently, I don't expect him to be the true answer or solution to finding a true WR1 for Young.

Terrace Marshall Jr. is a Carolina Panthers breakout candidate in 2023

Even if he has a successful season, I think the Panthers should still consider adding a potential top free-agent wide receiver in 2024 due to the understanding that Thielen is getting older, Chark's health could be a factor this season, and Laviska Sheanult Jr. is more of a hybrid weapon than anything. This leaves Marshall and rookie Jonathan Mingo to pick up the tab.

With that said, there is a very real possibility that Marshall becomes the Panthers' top wide receiver this season. He led the entire league in yards-per-catch during the previous campaign with more than 19 yards for every grab while also converting 24 of his 28 receptions into first downs.

That goes to show how reliable he was as a receiver last season for whoever was under center. Marshall has very strong hands at the catch point and improved his ability to create separation underneath. I also appreciate his ability as a vertical threat downfield with a good eye for the ball and plenty of speed to get behind the secondary.

Having a great position coach like Shawn Jefferson should help Marshall continue his progression, who has seen first-hand already via The Athletic the talent possessed by the one-time LSU Tiger.

"I can tell you this, he’s a skilled receiver and I’m happy to be coaching him. I’m looking forward to his future going forward."

Shawn Jefferson via The Athletic

Of course, Marshall will need to stay healthy for most if not all of the 2023 season. I don't expect an immediate impact from the get-go considering everyone on the offensive side of the ball will be learning a brand-new scheme. There is always the possibility that he doesn't start off fast.

However, I think Marshall's skill set is up there among the league's best.

This is his opportunity to shine and to become the focal point of an offense that needs one outside of its potential superstar at quarterback. An increased share of targets, and Marshall could emerge as a true X-factor for the Panthers by season's end.