Carolina Panthers’ roster review: Is rookie QB Matt Corral available if Sam Darnold fails? Carolina Panthers Blog

CHARLOTTE (N.C.) — A phrase that is rarely used, if ever, to describe Carolina Panthers rookie quarterback Matt Corral before the April draft was “NFL-ready.”

Not being ready to start Week 1 was the knock on the entire 2022 quarterback class with the exception of Pittsburgh’s Kenny PickettThe 20th most popular overall selection by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Corral’s offensive coordinator at Ole Miss said he understands, but believes the former Rebels star is closer to being ready than analysts gave him credit for.

“I don’t think he’s very far off at all,” said Jeff Lebby, now the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma. “If you watch the tape, you watch how he played against the SEC West with a marginal supporting cast, everybody will understand quickly what the guy did and how he put the team on his back.

“It was pretty impressive.”

Corral was enough for the Panthers to think about. tradeTo move into the third round, a 2022 fourth round draft pick and a 2023 second-round pick will be made.

They chose him to trade for Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield when the Browns refused to pay more than $3.5 million of Mayfield’s $18.86 million contract, according to a league source.

He was chosen because of the uncertainty surrounding 2021 starter Sam DarnoldHe was 4-7 in the first season with the Panthers and 17-3 in the next four between Carolina and the. New York Jets.

One slip by Darnold and fans will be screaming for Corral, who last season led an Ole Miss team that hadn’t had a winning season since 2015 to a 10-3 record and a trip to the Sugar Bowl.

“He is as an inspiring a young player as I’ve been around,” Lebby said.

ESPN draft analyst Jordan Reid said he loves Corral’s quick release and quick feet and the way his “feet marry up with his eyes really well.” He is curious about how fast Corral can adapt to the NFL playbook.

“He was in a very run-pass-centric offense at Ole Miss that was very quarterback friendly,” Reid said. “So adjusting is going to be his biggest hurdle.”

The adjustment begins Friday, as Corral and the rest of Carolina’s draft class, along with undrafted free agents and invited tryout players, begin a three-day rookie camp.

“Matt’s able to adapt,” Lebby said. “He had three different coordinators and quarterback coaches while he was [at Ole Miss]. He was able learn and process at a high level. He's capable of doing that at the next stage.”

Here’s a complete look at Carolina’s projected post-draft depth chart and how the Panthers' six draft picks (italicized) fit in:



Starter: Sam Darnold

Backups: Matt Corral, P.J. Walker

Comment: Barring the late addition of a veteran quarterback, Darnold will begin training camp and likely the season as the starter, but he’ll be on a short leash. Darnold will not be allowed to relax after the two consecutive five-win seasons.

Running back

Starter: Christian McCaffrey

Backups: D’Onta Foreman, Chuba Hubbard

Comment:McCaffrey has only played in 10 of 33 possible games over the past two seasons. It is important to keep McCaffrey healthy. Spreading the word is one way to do this.

Wide receiver

Starters: DJ Moore, Robbie Anderson

Backups: Terrace Marshall Jr., Rashard Higgins

Comment:Robby Anderson is now Robbie Anderson. Anderson also applied to have his jersey number changed from 11 to 3 Other than that, there is talent, especially if Marshall steps in for the second season.

Tight end

Starter: Ian Thomas

Backups: Tommy Tremble, Stephen Sullivan

Comment:As Ben McAdoo, the new offensive coordinator, aims to establish the run and protect quarterbacks, expect to see a lot more two-tight end sets.

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Starters:LT Ikem EkwonuRT Taylor Moton

Backups: Cameron Erving, Brady Christensen, Dennis Daley

Comment: Getting Ekwonu with the sixth overall pickThis was the key to the draft. His 154 collegiate pancake blocks earned him the nickname “Pancake King” and fits McAdoo’s philosophy perfectly. He needs to be more efficient at pass protection.


Starters: LG Brady ChristensenRG Austin Corbett

Backups: Michael Jordan, Pat Elflein, Deonte Brown, Cade Mays

Comment:Christensen is a Panthers starter. Left guard is the only spot available if Ekwonu fails to perform. Corbett, who shared a Super Bowl ring in the end with the Falcons, Los Angeles RamsLast season was a huge get in free agency, as Fitterer rebuilt it.


Starter: Bradley Bozeman

Backups: Pat Elflein, Sam Tecklenburg, Cade Mays

Comment:Elflein could be a challenger here, but the Panthers have invested $2.8 million in Bozeman in free agency for a one-year deal. Eflein, Bozeman and others can serve as guards if required.



Starters: Brian Burns, Yetur Gross-Matos

Backups: Marquis Haynes Sr., Amare Barno

Comment: Carolina picked up Burns’ fifth-year option after he made his first Pro Bowl. What’s needed is for Gross-Matos to stay healthy and pick up the production of 2021 sack leader Haason Reddick, who left in freedom agency. Frankie LuvuThis could be a great place to start.

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Starters: Derrick Brown, Matt Ioannidis

Backups: Daviyon Nixon, Bravvion Roy, Phil Hoskins

Comment:Ioannidis's addition in free agency was significant because he adds a threat to pass-rush alongside Brown, who is more of a run-stopper.

Outside linebacker

Starters: Shaq Thompson, Frankie Luvu

Backups: Cory Littleton, Brandon Smith

Comment:The Panthers traded up to acquire Smith in the fourth round, adding speed and talent. At the combine, Smith ran a 40-yard sprint time of 4.52 seconds. Former Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis Sr.It was completed in just 4.6 seconds in 2005.

Middle linebacker

Starter: Damien Wilson

Backups: Julian Stanford, Cory Littleton

Comment:This begs the question: what happens to the assault chargesWilson, a free-agent signingee? This will be very interesting if he's not on the roster. Littleton is a great cover linebacker in the league and could play a role.


Starters: Jaycee Horn, Donte Jackson

Nickel: Myles Hartsfield

Backups: CJ Henderson, Keith Taylor Jr., Rashaan Melvin, Kalon Barnes

Comment:This position may be the most skilled and deepest, other than running back. If Carolina can find a way to utilize Barnes’ 4.23-second speed in the 40-yard dash — second fastest in combine historyThis group is truly special.


Starters: Jeremy Chinn, Xavier Woods

Backups: Juston Burris, Sean Chandler

Comment:Chinn's safety was the main goal. This group has been solidified by the additions of Woods through free agency, as well as Steve Wilks, defensive pass coordinator and secondary coach. Wilks lobbied for Chinn not to be moved to linebacker.

Special teams


Zane Gonzalez


Johnny Hekker


J.J. Jansen

Comment:Chris Tabor, the new special teams coordinator, reaps the benefits of Hekker's addition. Hekker is a four-time Pro Bowl selection and just came off a Super Bowl win with the Eagles. Los Angeles Rams.

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