Panthers Receiver Could Step Up Without Robbie Anderson

Terrace Marshall

The Carolina Panthers are blowing it up, starting their fire sale by trading wide receiver Robbie Anderson to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for two late-round picks. Anderson did not play well for the Panthers this year, and it’s clear that his emotional tirade on Sunday played a role in the swiftness of this move. However, Anderson’s absence opens the door for Terrace Marshall Jr., a former second-round pick that has not lived up to his billing, to finally prove he belongs in the NFL.

READ MORE: Panthers Won the Christian McCaffrey Trade

Terrace Marshall Jr. Has An Opportunity to Prove Himself

Through the first six weeks of the season, the Panthers utilized Anderson as a perimeter threat, targeting him deep down on the sideline and in contested situations. Anderson was not ready to answer the call, as the speedy wideout caught just 13 of his 27 targets while averaging 1.36 yards per route run. Carolina’s poor quarterback situation certainly didn’t help Anderson, but you can’t place all the blame on Mayfield and Walker. As of this posting, Anderson’s 52.0 PFF grade ranks 105th out of 109 eligible receivers.

All this is to say that it won’t be hard for whoever steps up to match or exceed Anderson’s production. Technically speaking, Shi Smith and Laviska Shenault are ahead of Terrace Marshall on the depth chart, but neither player is an ideal fit for Anderson’s old role. At 5′-10″ and 190 pounds, Smith simply doesn’t have the size to consistently line up wide and bully defensive backs for contested passes, and Shenault is more of a gadget player than anything.

Marshall has yet to prove he can do much of anything at an NFL level, but on paper, his skillset best translates to the Robbie Anderson role. Marshall doesn’t have Anderson’s speed, but his 4.45 40-yard dash time did rank in the 79th percentile. This is especially impressive considering he ran it with an above-average 6′-2″, 205-pound frame.

Can Marshall Actually Succeed?

Nothing is impossible, but Terrace Marshall is battling some long odds to ever succeed in the NFL. Now playing in his third season as a professional, Marshall has never lived up to his draft billing and has only fallen further and further down the depth chart since making his debut in the league.

Historically speaking, it’s basically unheard of for a player with his draft capital to break out in Year 3. Some undrafted players manage to do this, as they had to overcome pre-existing beliefs about their ability to actually earn a spot on the field. Marshall, meanwhile, was a second-round pick. Everyone in the organization desperately wanted him to succeed and gave him every opportunity to thrive with the team. It didn’t happen, and one can safely assume that Marshall’s disappointing rookie season played a role in Carolina’s decision to extend Anderson after the 2020 season.

Additionally, it’s also worrisome that Marshall needed a trade to get on the field. Outside of D.J. Moore, the Panthers might have the worst stable of wide receivers in the league. We already established how much Anderson struggled, and he clearly didn’t get along with the coaching staff. Despite this, the coaches still felt Anderson gave the Panthers a considerably higher chance of winning than Marshall. On top of that, the coaches didn’t believe he was even good enough for the game-day roster, as he has only played in three games so far.

Perhaps Terrace Marshall can prove everyone wrong and be the lone silver lining on the cloud that is the 2022 Carolina Panthers. However, you shouldn’t bet on that happening.