We should see the Carolina Panthers throughout training camp and this season has multiple players in positions all over the field progress, and regress in their performance of play and overall production.
It should be exciting.
Progress: WR DJ Moore
DJ Moore has found a new number, and I believe he’ll reach that next step in his progression, too. It’s difficult to predict he’ll have the same production as the last two seasons (1200+ yards) however I believe his level of performance on the field will be much improved. There shouldn’t be as many desperate attempts from the QB to get him the ball downfield as well. DJ should just be open, as his route running has improved every year in the league and he should not be forced the ball if he’s not. That being said Moore has stepped into his own role as the deep threat and should be the number one target for Sam Darnold and I would trust Moore to come down with the football in almost all situations. Also not to mention that Moore playing on the 5th-year option will be looking for a long-term extension and should heighten his own level of expectations to earn his new deal.
Regress: C Matt Paradis
The Panthers will need to find a replacement for Paradis at least in 2022. I believe as his age goes up, the play will drop. I could definitely be wrong but I’m at least a little worried about how the 31-year old lineman will hold up after two lackluster seasons coming off the injuries in Denver.
Regress: LB Shaq Thompson
Linebacker Shaq Thompson has been a pretty inconsistent player for Carolina over the years and hasn’t lived up to the hype of him potentially replacing Thomas Davis when Shaq was drafted in 2016 during the first round. The contract Thompson was given (4-yr/$54M) was to help secure up the LB position but it really made it the most confusing spot to predict for Carolina production-wise. Although the deal at the time doesn’t look that bad, it has looked like a mistake the past 2 seasons too many, including me as I believe Shaq has regressed since Thomas Davis left.
Progress: LB Jermaine Carter Jr.
A linebacker that has improved every single snap it seems he’s on the field is Jermaine Carter Jr. I really like his ability to play as the coverage linebacker and a really good player to have in the nickel defense on key third-downs. I have high expectations for JC jr, if the Panthers wanted to save money I’d look in the direction of Jermaine over Shaq for better value at the position with the same if not better play on the field.
Progress: EDGE Brian Burns
Brian Burns is going to make most team’s Tackles not even want to line up against him, the dude in just two seasons (only one full season) has hit the opposing quarterback, THIRTY-SEVEN times. The spin-swim move Burns has mastered makes him so electric and extremely explosive off the edge and I could legitimately see Burns break the Panthers sack record for a single season in 2021.
Regress: LT Cameron Erving and OG Pat Elflein
I wanted to put these last two guys in here together as they’ll most likely get the starting two opportunities on the left side. I personally believe they will regress pretty quickly into the season as I don’t trust Elflein to hold up well vs the elite and Erving we already know is not a long-term answer. They could be replaced relatively quickly by rookies Brady Christensen, Deonte Brown, and David Moore by weeks 3-5.