53 Man Roster Prediction and Analysis

There are many on this site, and a few around the web that think the addition of Baker Mayfield makes the Carolina Panthers a playoff caliber team. That's great. Noone would be happier than I if that were the case. But, I feel they are still a ways off, and not just at the QB position, but on multiple levels.

Here's a look at the 53 man roster prediction, with analysis of each position group.


Baker Mayfield

Sam Darnold

Matt Corral


Christian McCaffrey

D'Onte Foreman

Chuba Hubbard


DJ Moore

Rashard Higgins

Andre Roberts


Terrace Marshall

Robbie Anderson

Brandon Zylstra


Tommy Tremble

Ian Thomas

Jason Bibicz


Ikem Okwonu

Cameron Irving


Brady Christianson

Deonte Brown


Bradley Bozeman

Pat Eflein


Austin Corbett

Cade Mays


Taylor Moton


Brian Burns

Marquis Haynes


Matt Ionnidus

Unsigned Player

Bravvion Roy


Derrick Brown

Daviyon Nixon


Yetur Gross-Matos

Unsigned Player

Amare Barno


Frankie Luvu

Cory Littleton


Damien Wilson

Julian Stanford


Shaq Thompson

Brandon Smith


Jaycee Horn

CJ Henderson

Kalon Barnes


Donte Jackson

Keith Taylor

Miles Hartsfield


Jeremy Chinn



Xavier Woods

Kenny Robinson


Zane Gonzales


Johnny Hekker


JJ Jansen


I think Mayfield will eventually win the "competition" at the QB spot, but it will mainly be because of the pressure Rhule will have to "upgrade" the position. I, however, don’t feel like he’s much of an upgrade. He and Darnold are basically the same QB who’ve been put in vastly diametrically opposite situations. Many on this site, and most every "sportswriter" on every website that has an ISP, seem to think that Mayfield is some kind of savior for the franchise and he’s a top whatever QB and Darnold is the worst QB in the history of football. But the truth of the matter is, supporting cast plays as much into the success of a QB as anything, and these two have had a vastly different road to this point in their careers.

Everybody is talking about Mayfield’s 2020 season as a barometer of how "great" he is as an NFL QB. But any game you watch, or any highlight video you care to watch, several things stand out.

1. He got an immaculate clean pocket with a huge amount of time by NFL standards to throw the football. It’s ridiculous how well his O Line performed and how he had room to step up, escape or just sit and find a receiver.

2. How on the few times he got some pressure, his mechanics folded like a Dollar Tree lawn chair.

3. How wide open his receivers got. It’s hard to count the number of throws he had that the receiver wasn’t NFL open, but High School open. So much separation, especially when he had so much time to set his body, it would be hard for virtually any H.S. QB to miss.

4. His ball placement, even on the wide-open throws was not very good or at best, hit and miss. Countless times, his receiver had to contort in some fashion or another to catch the ball. It was a rare occasion when his receiver was able to catch the ball clean.

5. How much YAC his receiver got that resulted in TD’s or got into the red zone. Given the fact that they got so open, even with poor ball placement many times, they were able to get into the endzone or close.

6. Over 34% of his TD passes came in two games.

7. 44% of his 2020 games, he had zero or one TD.

He’s really nothing special, he was just in a great situation, with the NFL best line, the NFL best running game, and competent receivers.

I’ll just leave this here as well…

60%, 6837 yards, 38 TDS, 34 INTS, 80.9 QBR

59.8%, 10,624 yards, 54 TDS, 52 INTS, 76.9 QBR

The first set of numbers are Baker Mayfield’s two-year stats when he didn’t have the best offensive line in football, the bottom is Sam Darnold’s stats behind the absolute worst offensive lines in football. They look eerily similar huh? But one is the savior, the other most people on this site, and most "sports writers" don’t think belongs in the NFL. Supporting casts really, really matter and if the offensive line takes time to gel and don't provide perfect protection from the get-go, you'll see similar QB play as we've had the last couple of years.

Here’s what I foresee happening in 2022 though, the offensive line is greatly improved and will play adequately enough for Mayfield to look marginally better than Darnold in 2021 and everyone will be hyped up on the new QB. "I told you so" will be rampant, but honestly, if Darnold had a line that provided him with more than 2 seconds, something he’s never had, he would have put up very similar numbers to what Mayfield will. But it's pretty much a moot point and we'll live or die by the O Line and Mayfield.

I’m not even going to get started on Matt Corral.


Please let McCaffrey stay healthy, if he doesn't, this year could be another train wreck. Foreman is a much better back-up and I think Spencer Brown is an overall superior back to Chuba Hubbard as well, but he doesn't make the team because, you know, Rhule's wife likes Hubbard.


If early camp reports are true, I think early in the season Marshall overtakes Anderson as the 2nd read at WR. Anderson is a one trick pony, and other than go routes and deep posts, his route running is sloppy, and he is clueless about finding the holes in zone coverage. And, with his 2023 cap hit, this is his last year in Carolina. We all know DJ Moore is a certified WR1, but Marshall and Anderson are no more than a weak WR3 or WR4 on many teams. Carolina needs to invest some draft capital and free agent signings on upgrading the position next year.


I think Tremble and Thomas can be adequate as pass catchers under McAdoo's system. Just because they've been in an offense that doesn't utilize the TE position much doesn't mean they don't have the chops to be good receivers. I also think, once the pads come on, Babicz will separate from Thompson and Sullivan as a blocker and will also make Ricci unnecessary as well.

O Line:

Vastly improved over, well, ever. Having to carry 3 QB's, and with the versatility of Mays, and Erving's being able to be a, puke, swing tackle, I think they'll go with 9 OL instead of the customary 10. Unfortunately, Elflein's contract keeps him on the team. I think if Deonte Brown reports to camp next week in shape, he'll shine in the pre-season and get the nod over Michael Jordan, if not, pencil Jordan in his spot.


The Panthers are putting a lot of faith in Gross-Matos and Haynes. And they have flashed and made a few plays in limited snaps, but playing situational snaps is entirely different than starting and/or being on the field for extended snaps. Being able to pin your ears back and rush the passer is entirely different than having to play the pass or the run on any given play. They are decent rotational pieces, but I think Fitterer will bring in a better pass rusher before game 1. If they don't upgrade the position and stand pat, if Gross-Matos and Haynes can't get consistent pressure and sacks, teams will be able to double Burns and the ship will sink quickly.


Derrick Brown must take his play to the next level this season, and Ionnidis has to play like 2/3 years ago, or this starting unit won't be sufficient. Along with LB, and DE, this is one of the shallower position groups on the team. I think another signing is coming before game 1. I don't think they are comfortable with this group. Davviyon Nixon got very limited snaps last year but made the most of them. The best rotational piece on the entire defense last year.


The Panthers brought in two new LB's very early in free agency, and to me, they are the Cameron Erving, Pat Eflein signings of 2022. There were vastly better options available in free agency. In fact, there still are, several in fact. They slapped on two early Band-Aids on the position, and I feel it will come back to haunt them tremendously. The Panthers lost Jermaine Carter, 42.6 PFF score, and Haason Reddick, 67.9 PFF score, and picked up Damien Wilson, 44 PFF score, and Cory Littleton, 47.8 PFF score. This is a very weak group, and once again, they are hoping that a player with very few full-time reps, Frankie Luvu, can handle and thrive in a role other than a specific specialized role. I almost wish Wilson's arrest would get him a suspension, so the Panthers would be forced to pick up Alexander Johnson or Joe Schobert or basically anyone, and upgrade MLB. But that would be mean, so I won't wish it. They likely won't, but I'd like to see them just cut Stanford and upgrade with Alexander or Schobert and move Wilson to a strickly backup, run down specialist role and take over Stanford's special teams reps if he's not suspended.


This is a pretty solid position group, one of, if not the deepest groups on the team. I think they keep Barnes on the team mainly to utilize his speed on special teams. Stay healthy guys. The only caveat here is the DL situation. No CB can cover a guy forever, and if the pass rush isn't upgraded before the season, there won't be much pressure on the opposing QB and they won't be as shut down as they could be.


Another pretty good group. Chinn is a budding star, they picked up a solid running mate in Woods, Robinson is solid, and they'll choose one of Chandler, Burris or Franklin to round out the depth. Myles Hartfield can also play Safety so they'll utilize him as a "swing" defender. If the LB position isn't upgraded, Chinn will have to play many of his snaps in the box again to help out. Snow has specified he'll be only used as a Safety, but whether you call them a LB or a turnip, if you're in the box, you're a LB.


Good, great, good. Enough said.

Well, there is my prediction and analysis of the 53 roster for the coming season. The Panthers have some real good players: McCaffrey, Moore, Okwonu, Moton, Horn, Burns, Chinn, some good players: Bozeman, Corbett, Brown, Thompson, Jackson, Woods, but there's still a lot of rebuilding needed to have a winning season and be perennial playoff contenders.

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