The good people at Pro Football Focus spend enormous amounts of time breaking down every player’s performance on every individual play throughout the season. In the end, players can then be given a final rating somewhere between zero (poor) and 100 (elite). Panthers players who did not receive a position rating in 2023 by PFF will show as “NA” in the table below.
If you want to learn more about PFF’s methodology, you can read their Player Grade overview.
Most of us as fans view PFF ratings this way: “If the grade fits my opinion of a player then it’s credible, but if the grade conflicts with my conclusions then PFF is stupid garbage and should never be trusted.” I’m not advocating for PFF, rather I’m just providing one set of data that’s at least interesting.
Here’s how PFF graded and ranked the Carolina Panthers primary offensive players:
2023 PFF Grades - Offense
|35th of 38
|16th of 60
|54th of 60
|43rd of 128
|89th of 128
|108th of 128
|110th of 128
|52nd of 72
|68th of 72
|23rd of 81
|40th of 81
|42nd of 79
|65th of 79
|21st of 36
PFF’s metrics support what we as Panthers fans beheld with our naked eyes: Bryce Young had about as poor of a first NFL season a rookie quarterback can have.
In his debut season the No. 1 overall pick was ranked 35th of 38 qualified quarterbacks by PFF.
Now, much has been written and much more will be opined about the less-than-promising start to Bryce Young’s career. There were coaching changes. The offensive line struggled. He had no reliable pass catchers outside of Adam Thielen. The lack of a consistent run game hampered the passing game. That’s all true, but so is the fact that Young lacked vision, accuracy, and timing on many of his passes. The only good news about a 56.0 PFF grade is there should be nowhere to go but up.
Let’s give major props to Chuba Hubbard whose 77.2 PFF grade was the single highest mark on the Panthers offense. In fact, 2023 was the second consecutive year in which Hubbard’s PFF grade was the highest on the Panthers offense. The third-year back churned out 1,135 scrimmage yards (902 rushing, 233 receiving) and was one of the few offensive bright spots in 2023. As the season went along Hubbard clearly established himself as RB1 over Miles Sanders and finished the season as the 16th ranked running back in the league.
Speaking of Miles Sanders, he had a poor first year in Carolina. After a 2022 Pro Bowl season with the Philadelphia Eagles in which he rushed for 1,269 yards and 11 touchdowns, he signed a 4-year, $25.4 million free agent deal with the Panthers only to massively underperform. Needless to say, Carolina wasn’t expecting to see Sanders regress from a Pro Bowler to one of the least effective backs in the NFL, ranking 54 of 60 at his position.
Adam Thielen, a 33-year-old 10-year veteran, simply whacked Father Time in the knee with a tire iron and put up 103 receptions for 1,014 yards. Ranking 43rd at his position doesn’t do justice for the incredible season Thielen had in a completely incompetent offense. He would have been a Top 20 wide receiver if PFF accounted for degree of difficulty.
The remainder of the Panthers wide receiver corps was among the worst in the league. DJ Chark seemed to take one step forward then two steps back throughout the season and finished as the 89th ranked receiver in the league. Terrace Marshall Jr. and rookie Jonathan Mingo were among two of the lowest-rated wide receivers in the league at No. 108 and No. 110, respectively.
Mingo did show some flashes indicating he could live up to his second round pedigree at some point in the future. He had three different games with at least four receptions and 60 yards, which is fairly impressive given the Panthers struggles in the passing game. He’s still an athletic freak at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds with a Relative Athletic Score of 9.87. Just like his fellow rookie quarterback, Mingo took some lumps in his first NFL season and the hope is the hard lessons he learned this year will accelerate his future development.
The Hayden Hurst experiment didn’t pan out as hoped after signing a 3-year, $21.8 million contract. He played just nine games due to a serious concussion and was given the second-lowest PFF grade among Carolina’s offensive players. His counterpart, Ian Thomas, continues to be a low-end tight end per PFF.
When it comes to Tommy Tremble, I disagree with PFF’s 55.6 grade. He’s a good blocker and in 2023 made strides as a low-volume but productive receiving threat. He hauled in 23 receptions on 32 targets giving him a catch percentage of 72% which is outstanding given Bryce Young’s accuracy issues. He also scored three times on an offense that simply couldn’t find the end zone. I think he played better than PFF graded him.
Taylor Moton’s 74.6 grade was the second highest mark on the offense as he continued to deliver steady, high-end production at right tackle.
Left tackle Ikem Ekwonu was ranked as the 40th of 81 tackles, so essentially league average. Frankly, his 67.4 PFF grade was higher than I thought it would be after allowing 11 sacks, 40 pressures, and being flagged for 12 penalties. Ekwonu took a step back in his second NFL season and the Panthers need more from him in 2024.
Center Bradley Bozeman delivered another league-average year and was likely hampered by the inconsistency and poor play of the guards surrounding him on both sides.
The Panthers guard position was a mess. Brady Christensen played just one game while Austin Corbett appeared in just four. According to PFF, Cade Mays was the backup who performed best with a 58.3 grade. Calvin Thorckmorton was released mid-season while Nash Jensen recorded the lowest PFF grade among Carolina’s offensive players at 34.7.