Friday, September 8, 2023

Carolina Panthers Week 1 NFL Power Rankings Roundup

Throughout the 2023 NFL season, we will compile a consensus NFL Power Rankings that averages the rankings of all 32 NFL teams.

Below you will find a Week 1 roundup for the Carolina Panthers in our consensus 2023 NFL Power Rankings.

ESPN -- Rank: 22

On the hot seat: OLB/DE Yetur Gross-Matos

Gross-Matos, a second-round pick in 2020, needs to make an impact as he transitions from a 4-3 end to a 3-4 edge rusher. His impact was minimal in the past three seasons, with a combined 8.5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss. He's second on the depth chart behind Marquis Haynes Sr. as the edge rusher opposite Brian Burns, and he easily could fall to third if 2023 third-round pick D.J. Johnson develops more moves. Gross-Matos has to show improvement if he wants a new contract. -- David Newton -- Rank: 25

There's bubbling support for the Panthers as potential NFC South champs, and ... sure, why not? Heck, they made a valiant run at it last season after firing their coach, shipping their star running back away in a trade and rolling with Sam Darnold and PJ Walker under center instead of the Week 1 QB, who was released in December. With No. 1 pick Bryce Young, a defense offering upside and new coach Frank Reich in place, one might argue their chances can't be dismissed. That's fair. But on cutdown day, Carolina jettisoned many players from the Matt Rhule regime, opting for youth at multiple spots. The excitement over Young is tangible, but this season's goals are more about Young's development, I suspect, than the Panthers' final win percentage.

CBS Sports -- Rank: 25

With Bryce Young in at quarterback, they will have to take some lumps. He's good, but that line is a question mark and it seemed to impact him in the preseason.

USA Today -- Rank: 27

They've got the first quarterback (Bryce Young) taken in the 2023 draft, but questions remain as to whether they can effectively protect him ... or if they'll have Pro Bowl OLB Brian Burns available as he angles for a new contract.

The Athletic -- Rank: 27

Best-case scenario: Bryce Young is who the Panthers think he is. After heading into the bye at 2-4, Carolina rattles off six consecutive wins en route to winning the NFC South by a comfortable margin. Bryce Young's processing allows an underwhelming group of pass catchers to look better than they are, while Evero leads the surprise Panthers defense to a top-five finish. Brian Burns leads the league in sacks and adds on a game-winning strip-sack of Prescott in the wild-card round.

Worst-case scenario: Adam Thielen serving as the No. 1 receiver for an offense as a 33-year-old is too much for any quarterback to overcome, as Ikem Ekwonu's struggles continue and Bryce Young is battered in a Carr-like way that robs the Panthers of getting to truly evaluate their franchise quarterback.

FOX -- Rank: 20

I had really high hopes for what the Panthers might be in Bryce Young's rookie season, but it's hard not to be scared by the offensive line's performance this preseason. For the millionth time, we shouldn't overreact to what we see in the preseason, but the Panthers' offense just doesn't have enough talent to help Young overcome leaky protection. Factor in a possible Brian Burns holdout, and the vibes in Charlotte don't feel great right now.

Yahoo! -- Rank: 25

Receiver Jonathan Mingo is going to be a draft steal for the Panthers. The early second-round pick has the size-speed combo to make an immediate impact. It wouldn't surprise me if he leads the Panthers' unimpressive receiver room by the end of his rookie season.

PFT -- Rank: 25

How long will it take Bryce Young to adapt to the NFL game?

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