PFF: Carolina Panthers Have Bottom-Five Offensive Line

Panthers Offensive Line

Quarterback Sam Darnold never had a real chance with the New York Jets, as the organization constantly failed to surround him with NFL-caliber talent. The receivers were bad, and the offensive line was even worse. Carolina is definitely a better situation, but the former third-overall pick still might get hit more often than you’d like. According to PFF, the Carolina Panthers have the second-worst offensive line in the NFL.


PFF Does Not Like Carolina Panthers Offensive Line.

According to Steve Palazzolo, the biggest problem starts at the left tackle position. After an injury-marred season, Russell Okung is still a free agent, which means the Panthers are probably planning on sticking with what they have at tackle. What they have is not good, as Cam Erving is nobody’s idea of a good starting option.

The best hope for improvement here is third-round rookie Brady Christensen. The BYU product played very well in college, but he didn’t exactly face off against the highest competition. Additionally, head coach Matt Rhule prefers him at guard, which means that his future could be along the interior offensive line. Greg Little, meanwhile, hasn’t impressed during his first two years in the league. Maybe he can make the fabled third-year leap, but Carolina shouldn’t be betting on this outcome. The silver lining here is that Taylor Moton is a fine right tackle. If Carolina can find a solution on the blind side, then they should have an adequate tackle duo.

Of course, the interior offensive line still leaves a lot to be desired. Matt Paradis is a serviceable but underwhelming option at center, while the two guard spots are complete unknowns. If the season started today, Palazzolo believes that Pat Elflein and Dennis Daley would start at left and right guard, respectively, and both players have histories of below-average play at both positions.

Can Sam Darnold Succeed With This Offensive Line?

The Carolina Panthers have a lot riding on Sam Darnold in 2020, and they should be doing everything possible to see if he can actually turn into their long-awaited franchise quarterback. However, an offensive line this bad might not be capable of giving Darnold the necessary time to read a defense and deliver crisp, accurate throws.

This offensive line is definitely an issue, but it’s not so bad that Darnold won’t be able to function. As of this posting, the Carolina Panthers have two great receivers in D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson, and a promising rookie in Terrace Marshall Jr. Moore and Anderson can get open quickly, while Marshall was one of the best jump-ball specialists in college. All three players should be able to get open early in their patterns, which means this attack can succeed with bad blocking.

Of course, you can’t forget about Christian McCaffrey out of the backfield. The former first-round pick is arguably the best receiving back in the league, and he does most of his damage on short routes out of the backfield. If pressure forces Darnold to check down to McCaffrey, the running back still has good odds of turning the dumpoff into a positive play.

While better blocking would obviously be preferred, Darnold’s supporting cast is talented enough to cover up the subpar unit. If the first-year Panther still can’t make it work in this situation, then it’s time for Carolina to look somewhere else in 2022.

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