Carolina Panthers wide receiver Terrace Marshall had a season to forget in 2021. Selected in the second round, the LSU product finished his rookie season with just 17 receptions for 138 yards and one touchdown on 30 targets. This is obviously a far cry from what the Panthers needed last year, but can Marshall bounce back in Year 2?
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Will Terrace Marshall Break Out in Year 2?
Why He Will
Adjusting to life in the NFL isn’t easy. The jump from the college to the professional level is one of the hardest in sports, so it’s dangerous to write anyone off after one disappointing season. Leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft, most experts and analysts projected Marshall to be a late-first or early-second round pick, and it’s not like he lost the skills he demonstrated during his collegiate years. Additionally, he did flash some playmaking ability in the preseason.
Terrace Marshall with the 59-yard catch and run 👀
— PFF (@PFF) August 15, 2021
The Panthers had arguably the worst quarterback situation in the league last year. Sam Darnold did not improve with a change of scenery, and Cam Newton looked like a shell of his former self. Quite frankly, it would be hard for anyone to succeed with that type of lackluster quarterbacking under center. While D.J. Moore still managed to put up respectable numbers, established veteran Robby Anderson took a huge step back with this downgrade in quarterback play. If Matt Corral wins the starting job, perhaps he would be able to get more out of the LSU product.
Why He Won’t
It’s hard to overstate just how bad Marshall was as a rookie. Again, you shouldn’t completely give up on a player with second-round draft capital after just one season, but Terrace Marshall will be an extreme outlier if he actually ends up being good. It’s one thing to struggle as a rookie, but it’s a whole other thing to be among the worst receivers in just about every metric possible.
It goes without saying that Marshall was one of the least efficient receivers in the league on a per-play basis. Marshall finished the season with just 4.6 yards per target and 0.57 yards per route run, both of which ranked among the worst in the league. Obviously, Marshall’s quarterback situation didn’t help, but the film shows that the rookie deserves a large share of the blame for his underwhelming season.
According to Pro Football Focus, Marshall’s 53.3 overall grade ranked 110th out of 115 eligible receivers, putting him in the same neighborhood as guys like Jalen Reagor, Freddie Swaim, and Damiere Byrd. Matt Harmon of Reception Perception reached a similar conclusion, as his film study showed that Marshall ranked had a first percentile success rate against man and press coverage and a fourth percentile success rate against zone.
Unfortunately for Marshall, the closest comparison for his career to date is Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jalen Reagor. Both players entered the NFL with high draft capital and landed on teams that desperately needed help at wide receiver. However, both players crashed and burned as rookies, and Reagor has done nothing to suggest he’ll succeed in the NFL.
Perhaps Marshall turns it around and develops into a competent secondary option in the passing attack. Unfortunately, all evidence to date suggests that will not happen.
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