PFF Too Low On Carolina Panthers Receivers, Just Right on Running Backs

Carolina Panthers PFF

With rosters across the league largely set until training camp, the fine folks at Pro Football Focus are passing the time by grading the best units at every position across the league. In the past few days, PFF ranked the Carolina Panthers receivers as the 20th-best unit in football while the running backs came in at seventh. This is way too low for a talented receiving room but just right for the running backs.

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PFF: Carolina Panthers Have Underwhelming Skill Position Players

Receivers Ranked 20th in NFL

Pro Football Focus acknowledges that Carolina has a strong starting duo in D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson, but the rest of the depth chart just has too many question marks for their liking. Specifically calling out the battle between David Moore and Terrace Marshall, PFF acknowledges that the rookie was a first-round talent in their eyes while specifically calling out his ability on contested catches.

These rankings include tight ends and not running backs, which is enough to lower Carolina on these ranks. Dan Arnold possesses some upside, but Ian Thomas was one of the worst tight ends in football last year.

While this unit definitely isn’t as good as Tampa Bay or Kansas City, putting them down at 20 just feels disrespectful. Moore and Anderson are one of the better receiving duos in the league, and adding a first-round talent into the mix should only make things better. Even if Marshall needs time to adapt to NFL life, David Moore is a proven third receiver with some success in Seattle. Dan Arnold, meanwhile, has a decent shot of being 2021’s Logan Thomas and emerging as a reliable receiving threat. This unit should be ranked well ahead of the Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, or an Atlanta Falcons team without Julio Jones.

Running Backs Ranked 7th in NFL

20 is a little low for the receivers, but 7th is just right for the running backs. Christian McCaffrey is obviously a top-five running back, but this exercise factors in depth just as much as top-tier talent. In this respect, the Panthers depth chart leaves a little something to be desired.

Mike Davis filled in admirably for an injured McCaffrey in 2020, but he’s now in Atlanta. This leaves a gaping hole at the number two spot on the depth chart, with Chuba Hubbard having the best odds of filling that role. Hubbard was once considered one of the best running back prospects in the country, but two consecutive underwhelming seasons caused his draft stock to plummet. Nobody is capable of being a one-for-one McCaffrey replacement, but can he play at a Mike Davis level?

If he can’t, it means that either Rodney Smith or Reggie Bonnafon are going to see a lot of time in the offense, and that is not a good thing. Neither player is anything more than a fringe-NFL talent, and the Panthers will probably have to abandon their running-back-centric offensive identity should these players see significant action.

Ultimately, McCaffrey’s immense talent alone earns a spot in the top 10, but the lack of proven depth behind him keeps Carolina from topping the list. Personally, this seems like a fair and justified ranking.

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