QB Sam Darnold | Winner
I'm stating the obvious here, right? Sam Darnold had an atrocious offensive line, zero weapons, and zero coaching during his tenure with the New York Jets. The second Darnold was traded, he already had more help than he did in New York but Carolina added to that in the 2021 NFL Draft. The selection of Terrace Marshall Jr. and Shi Smith give Darnold two more options in the passing game and some more help in the backfield with running back Chuba Hubbard - a former Heisman candidate. The offensive line is still a work in progress but hey, at least Carolina is making an effort. Brady Christensen (3rd round pick) and Deonte Brown (6th round pick) may need time to develop but it does give the Panthers depth up front. Oh yeah, and they passed up on taking Justin Fields at No. 8
TE Ian Thomas | Loser
We all knew that the Panthers were going to add a tight end in the draft it was just a matter of who and when. Carolina selected Notre Dame's Tommy Tremble with their 2nd selection of the third round. Tremble is an elite blocker and a so-so receiving threat but this only further shows the team's lack of confidence in Thomas long-term. He underperformed a year ago which is why they went out and signed Dan Arnold in free agency. I wouldn't be surprised if this is Thomas's last year in Carolina.
RB Christian McCaffrey | Winner
McCaffrey is one of the most explosive players in the NFL but has had a bit of a heavy workload early in his career. Last year was the first time where injuries started to become a legit concern as he missed 13 games due to multiple injuries. Getting another running back was a huge must in this draft and they got one of the best backs in the entire class not named Najee Harris or Travis Etienne. If it weren't for an ankle injury in 2020, Hubbard would have been viewed as a clear day two pick. He'll lessen the load off McCaffrey's shoulders which will keep him fresh throughout the season.
CB Troy Pride Jr. | Loser
After being selected in the 4th round a year ago, it looks like Troy Pride Jr.'s playing time is about to take an even bigger hit. He has a ton of speed but his footwork and technique weren't the greatest which is why he struggled as a rookie. Unfortunately for him, he will get pushed further down the depth chart with the addition of Jaycee Horn and will have to battle with Keith Taylor Jr. just to earn some playing time. It will be an uphill battle for Pride Jr. in 2021.
C Matt Paradis | Winner
Paradis has been okay since coming to Carolina but hasn't been the player the organization thought they were getting when they signed him in 2019. I figured the Panthers would draft Creed Humphrey or Landon Dickerson to develop under Paradis before eventually taking over the job. With GM Scott Fitterer neglecting to draft a center, it has to give Paradis a bit of a relief.
LS J.J. Jansen | Loser
The Panthers drafting Alabama long snapper Thomas Fletcher in the 7th round was a huge surprise. Using a pick on that position is questionable as it is, let alone using one when you have a veteran like J.J. Jansen who has been in the organization since 2009. Rarely is there a "competition" for the long snapping spot so it seems like the veteran, Jansen, may be on the way out.
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