The Carolina Panthers were one of the teams that were expected by many analysts and fans to select a quarterback in the first round. Instead of drafting a QB like Justin Fields or Mac Jones with the eight pick, the Panthers elected to grab a CB by the name of Jaycee Horn. Despite the backlash and surprise to many fans, I believe this was a great move. It may have been sexier if the Panthers paired the buzz of Justin Fields with the returning Christian McCaffrey, but it doesn’t match the right scheme fit AND high talent of Jaycee Horn being in a Carolina uniform. I’m going to explain why Horn was a tremendous pickup and why he will swing the win count for the Panthers.
Here are few reasons why Horn was the right choice:
The NFC South is home to the best WR corps in the last 25 years
The Panthers compete in a division where they see 2019 Offensive Player of The Year, Michael Thomas twice a season, Mike Evans twice a year, and all-time great Julio Jones twice a year. Those are six games against the cream of the top wideouts.
Evans ousted 182 yards and two touchdowns in the two games combined against the Panthers. Jones had 10 catches for 137 yards in the one game against the Panthers secondary. Michael Thomas did not play in 2020 against the Panthers, but he was dazzling every defense in 2019.
Carolina was 17th against the pass in 2020. The passing offenses in the NFC South were prolific to say the least: Tampa Bay was third in the league in passing offense, Atlanta was fifth, and the Saints were in the top 10 with a healthy Drew Brees. Horn will be the ultimate competitor for the Panthers in juggernaut NFC South gauntlet.
Sam Darnold holds similar potential to the 2021 rookie QBs
Sam Darnold has been playing in the NFL for three years, but he’s only a year older than the likes of Justin Fields/Mac Jones. Darnold was a better prospect than both QBs (Fields/Jones) coming out of college, plus he’s been consistently productive in the past (2019).
The Panthers may feel confident that there aren’t distinguishable advantages for the rookie QBs in this year’s draft over Darnold. Plus, the potential is still sky high for the former USC signal caller. It was evident that the Panthers felt strongly about Darnold when they sent Bridgewater out the door for a late round draft pick.
If Carolina feels like they don’t have Trevor Lawrence or maybe Trey Lance on the board, it’s very wise to get a talented player at a much bigger need like Jaycee Horn.
The Panthers were competitive in 2020
The Panthers may have had a top 10 pick in the 2021 draft, but they were more competitive in many games than some fans realize. The Panthers lost a whopping “eight games by eight points or less” in 2020. With a slight upgrade at QB from Darnold to Bridgewater and a healthy Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers will already be in a much better position to close out victories. With that being said, the Panthers were never looking for a home run hit at QB – rather another quality piece to the puzzle.