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2021 NFL Power Rankings: Carolina Panthers

Throughout the 2021 NFL season, we will compile a consensus NFL Power Rankings that averages the rankings of all 32 NFL teams.

Here is where the Carolina Panthers rank in terms of average, best and worst:

Below you will find a post-draft roundup for the Panthers in our consensus 2021 NFL Power Rankings.

ESPN -- Rank: 25

Player who benefited most from draft: QB Sam Darnold

Everyone the Panthers drafted, even first-round CB Jaycee Horn, helps Darnold. Consider second-round pick Terrace Marshall Jr., whose 11 TDs inside the 10 the past two years were the most in college football; WR Shi Smith, whose 153 catches from the slot are the third most in the SEC since 2014; RB Chuba Hubbard, who will allow more opportunities for Christian McCaffrey to be used in other places; Tommy Tremble, whose 83.7 run-blocking grade (PFF) in 2020 was the best by a TE in college football; and OG Deonte Brown, who didn't allow a sack in college. One could argue the entire Carolina draft was to benefit Darnold. -- David Newton

NFL.com -- Rank: 28

Sam Darnold has spent most of this year buckled into an emotional roller coaster he wanted nothing to do with. The former USC star escaped the purgatory that came to define the final months of his doomed time with the Jets only to enter into a similar state of uncertainty in Charlotte. Would the Panthers make a big move at quarterback in the draft? Would Teddy Bridgewater remain in the mix? Was Darnold really going to get his chance? When the dust settled, Bridgewater was traded, the Panthers didn't use any of their 11 draft picks on a QB, and the team officially picked up Darnold's fifth-year option. That's a nice weekend.

CBS Sports -- Rank: 27

Sam Darnold is the new quarterback, but he comes with a lot of doubters. This will be a proving year for him, but the Panthers start the year clearly as the fourth team in the division.

USA Today -- Rank: 28

New QB Sam Darnold has never been one to make excuses, but he surely shouldn't have any given all of the offensive assets Carolina has surrounded him with -- something he's obviously not accustomed to.

The Athletic -- Rank: 20

Teddy Bridgewater did not offer the Panthers a high ceiling, but he did give them a high floor. Sam Darnold figures to be much more high variance. He will not have a great offensive line, but the Panthers have strong weapons in Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson.

Defensively, Carolina will be leaning on a bunch of talented rookies and second-year players. The Panthers were frisky at times last year and could be again. But the roster still needs a lot of work. This year is all about figuring out if Darnold has real upside.

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