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Panthers 53-Man Roster Projection Following First Preseason Game

We are one step closer to finding out the 53.

The Panthers made their first round of cuts on Sunday, letting RB Darius Bradwell, OT Wyatt Miller, TE Ryan Becker, LB Kamal Martin, and CB Chris Westry hit the open market to bring the roster to 85. In a week, the roster will once again trim down, this time to 80. 

After one preseason game, I have a pretty good feel for what the Panthers' 53-man roster will look like. Each week, I'll release a new projection. 

OFFENSE

QB (3): Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Matt Corral

Analysis: It's not ideal but there's no way around it. The Panthers will carry three quarterbacks in 2022 unless Darnold ends up getting traded. 

RB (3): Christian McCaffrey, D'Onta Foreman, Chuba Hubbard

Analysis: This is the group I feel most confident predicting, mainly because I don't see any reason to add a fourth back to the mix. Spencer Brown has looked good in camp and in Saturday's preseason game but he's a practice squad candidate.

WR (6): DJ Moore, Robbie Anderson, Terrace Marshall Jr., Rashard Higgins, Andre Roberts, Shi Smith

Analysis: C.J. Saunders' injury will cost him a roster spot. If healthy, I'm not sure whose place he would have taken but with him sidelined for a few more weeks, this will be the six. Brandon Zylstra, in my opinion, has had a disappointing preseason.

TE (4): Ian Thomas, Tommy Tremble, Stephen Sullivan, Giovanni Ricci

Analysis: Ben McAdoo loves tight ends and for that very reason I almost included Colin Thompson here as well. Ricci gives the Panthers value on special teams and can play both tight end and fullback. Versatile guy that the coaching staff really likes.

OT (3): Ikem Ekwonu, Taylor Moton, Cameron Erving

Analysis: If he didn't carry a dead cap hit of $4.5M, Erving would not be here. There's still a chance they cut him but I would say it's unlikely.

G (4): Brady Christensen, Austin Corbett, Michael Jordan, Cade Mays

Analysis: Dennis Daley was No. 54 for me, so he still has a chance to make the cut. Deonte Brown is much further down the list and is, in my opinion, in serious danger of being cut before the end of the month.

C (2): Bradley Bozeman, Pat Elflein

Analysis: The Panthers have to feel good about the center spot with these two. Regardless of who wins the job, they won't have to worry about the depth here like they did last year.

Total: 25

DEFENSE

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DE (5): Brian Burns, Yetur Gross-Matos, Marquis Haynes Sr., Amaré Barno, Darryl Johnson

Analysis: Johnson was No. 53 and although I could see the Panthers rolling without him, they need bodies on the edge. The luxury of having a premier pass rusher opposite of Burns no longer exits, so the more you can keep guys fresh throughout the duration of a game/season, the better.

DT (4): Derrick Brown, Matt Ioannidis, Bravvion Roy, Daviyon Nixon

Analysis: Brown, Ioannidis, and Roy will see the majority of reps but in certain packages/situations, they'll want to add in Nixon who is more athletic and can generate a pass rush from the interior.

LB (6): Shaq Thompson, Cory Littleton, Frankie Luvu, Damien Wilson, Julian Stanford, Brandon Smith

Analysis: The linebacking corps has come a long way from where it was a year ago. Wilson is an upgrade from Jermaine Carter Jr. and Cory Littleton is an experienced veteran that can play all three spots in a reserve role - something they did not have a year ago. Stanford is arguably the best special teams player on the roster aside from the specialists, so had to include him.

CB (5): Donte Jackson, Jaycee Horn, C.J. Henderson, Keith Taylor Jr., Kalon Barnes

Analysis: Five corners or six? I hate leaving Stantley Thomas-Oliver III off the projection, but I just can't see Carolina keeping six corners active. Kalon Barnes takes his spot.

S (5): Jeremy Chinn, Xavier Woods, Juston Burris, Myles Hartsfield, Sean Chandler

Analysis: I feel pretty good with the first four, however, Chandler I'm unsure of. Kenny Robinson and Sam Franklin Jr. could also be in the mix for that last spot in that room. 

Total: 25

SPECIAL TEAMS

K (1): Zane Gonzalez

P (1): Johnny Hekker

LS (1): J.J. Jansen

Total: 3

Overall total: 53

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