Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be taking a look at each position group and giving our way-too-early depth chart projections. Today, we move on to the receiving corps.
Starters - DJ Moore, Robby Anderson
Both DJ Moore and Robby Anderson lit up defenses on a weekly basis in 2020 and ultimately eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in receiving yards. Last season marked the first time in Anderson's career to reach 1,000 yards in a season, while Moore made it back-to-back seasons of over 1k. With Sam Darnold now in the fold, we can expect the Panthers to take more shots down the field, especially with Robby Anderson. Anderson and Darnold had a strong connection during their time together in New York. As for Moore, he's already proven that it doesn't matter who is under center, he's going to produce at a high level.
Backups - Terrace Marshall Jr., David Moore
The Panthers drafted Terrace Marshall Jr. at the end of the 2nd round in hopes that he could help fill the void left behind by Curtis Samuel. Marshall is a big-bodied receiver that can go up and win 50/50 balls at a consistent rate. A season ago, Carolina struggled mightily in the red zone due to no production from the tight ends in the passing game and also not having that big receiver that can go up and get the ball. That said, Marshall can do much more than that. He's extremely effective in the middle of the field and is fairly good in the quick passing game.
Moore was very consistent during his time in Seattle as he was typically good for about 45 catches, 390 yards, and four touchdowns per season. He excelled in his role as a complementary receiver to DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, which is what he will be doing in Carolina alongside Robby Anderson and DJ Moore.
3rd string - Shi Smith, Brandon Zylstra, Keith Kirkwood (?)
Of this group, Shi Smith is the one to really watch for. Carolina took him in the 6th round of this year's draft but he could end up being a steal. Smith has elite speed and is very elusive in the open field. As I've stated many times before, he was never able to shine at South Carolina because of poor quarterback play. Don't be surprised to see him rise up the depth chart as the season moves along.
Zylstra likely won't see much time at receiver but more so as a special teamer. Last year, Zylstra was in on 58% of all special teams snaps. However, if he takes advantage of the three preseason games and impresses, he could develop into someone that Joe Brady trusts to throw the ball to every now and then.
The wild card among the group is Keith Kirkwood. He only appeared in one game in 2020 after re-injuring his left clavicle. He's had a history over the past couple of years of being a bit injury-prone so there's no guarantee that he will be healthy enough to be on the field. Not to mention, who knows if the Panthers will even keep seven receivers on the roster. It'll be an uphill battle for Kirkwood regardless of health.
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