Image Credit (Jim Dedmon/USA Today Sports)
Written by: Nicholas Mullick Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicholas-mullick-354076184/
With Training Camp about to start for the NFL in a few weeks, there are questions that follow each team. Like I did with the Giants, I will be doing the Top 5 Biggest questions for every team heading into Training Camp. Next up is the Carolina Panthers who had the 6th Overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
1. Who will be the starting quarterback in week 1?
Let's be real out of all the positions through this team that has been an issue, Quarterback is definitely the weakest. I don’t see a long-term QB on this team. I mean maybe Matt Corral, but I was not a big fan of him. Sam Darnold has not been able to overcome being ruined by the Jets and Adam Gase. PJ Walker has not impressed. But It will be close for who will be the starting QB in Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns. Or will the Panthers make a trade for Baker Mayfield and have him become the starting QB? Even though they have not lately pushed it, I don’t see Baker playing next season for Cleveland. If Darnold is injured again and Coral fails to impress in the preseason, then it would not be a shock if they traded for Mayfield.
2. Who will be the number 3 receiver?
I think it is clear cut that the Panthers number 1 receiver is DJ Moore and the number 2 receiver is Robby Anderson. The question is who will be the number 3 receiver for Carolina. Well, I would not be completely confident. Many would say Terrace Marshall is the guy and be done, but I am not so sure he is going to be the number 3 receiver. Marshall was dealing with injuries last year, but he was not great even when healthy. They signed Rashard Higgins who was stashed in Cleveland and a depth piece has an opportunity. Andre Roberts is a special teams guy but showed flashes on offense. Kirkwood is a sleeper option as he has been with Carolina since Rhule joined the Panthers as the head coach. With all the other receivers Carolina will have to figure out. To be honest, the only receiver that I am the most confident in is DJ Moore. I would add Robby Anderson to that list except…
3. What is going on with Robby Anderson?
Well now, this is something that I am still lost on. So a few weeks ago I was browsing the internet and I saw news dropped of Robby Anderson making a tweet saying that he was contemplating retirement. Which was super shocking as he is 29 years old and has plenty of football left to go. Time has passed and we have still received no words on Anderson's decision to retire. If I had to guess, I am going to say he is going to play as he has since deleted the retirement tweet. But, the only person who truly knows is Robby Anderson himself. I will say one thing, that tweet tells me that he is not happy in Carolina right now. It will be something to keep an eye on because this could lead to the Panthers parting ways with Anderson, even though he becomes a free agent in 2024. I hope to hear more info with Anderson, but this does not look great.
4. The defense is better, but what about the depth at linebacker?
I will admit Carolina’s defense definitely got better in the offseason. The one position I am not strong on with Carolina is at linebacker. Excluding Shaq Thompson, the linebacker core is not great. I mean Frankie Luvu maybe as he is a bit of a hidden gem, but he is not fantastic. The Panthers brought in Corey Littleton and hopefully, he will impress. Mainly, Littleton, Luvu, and Thompson are all outside linebackers. But the Panthers big issue is at middle linebacker. Currently, their Middle linebacker depth chart is Damien Wilson who likely is the starter after a strong year in Jacksonville. Maybe he can keep it up, but we will see. The depth is not great in Carolina and if one goes down, well they don’t have a great option behind them.
5. Will Matt Rhule change up the schemes?
I have constantly stated that out of all the coaches in the NFL, Matt Rhule is absolutely on the hot seat. The only reason why he was not fired last year, is due to the insane contract that Carolina signed him to coach this team. Carolina needs to make the playoffs in order for him to fully save his job next year. Rhule needs to make some much-needed changes, especially with how bad the offensive and defensive schemes were last year. It will be interesting to see if he will because something has to change with this team as Rhule heads into his 3rd year coaching the Panthers.