Matt Rhule, Panthers Believe In Sam Darnold, No Need For First-Round QB

The Carolina Panthers believe Sam Darnold is their franchise quarterback. They proved that during the first round of the NFL draft last Thursday when they chose not to take another quarterback with the No. 8 overall pick.

Justin Fields and Mac Jones were both still on the board, so there were options available.

Instead, Panthers coach Matt Rhule elected to take South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn, passing up on another signal caller in the process. The reason for that decision is simple: Darnold is their guy.

During an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show on Tuesday afternoon, Rhule detailed the thought process behind declining to take a quarterback at No. 8.

“I love those guys and I think they’re gonna be great NFL players. I just think for us, when we got Sam and knowing he’s 23-years-old, just turned 24, we just felt like Sam plus another player would be better for the team overall,” Rhule said. “Bill Parcells once said one player can’t do it alone. We’re just trying to build the whole team, and I just believe in Sam. I believe he deserves the opportunity to go out and play with us.

“I think those other young quarterbacks are gonna be fantastic players, but the hit rate on first-round quarterbacks isn’t real, real high, and to have a chance to get Jaycee Horn and have Sam Darnold, we just kind of felt like, ‘Hey this is two for one.’ Now, we just have to make sure Sam’s a great player for us.”

Rhule makes a good point here.

The team had already invested draft capital in Darnold. He’s only 24 years old, and there is still a chance he could turn his career around.

The talent put around Darnold will certainly impact that chance. The man just didn’t have much help in New York. A young quarterback with a gunslinger mentality is going to try and make things happen, especially if he’s asked to shoulder most of the load. That is going to lead to mistakes.

Darnold’s poor decisions at times aren’t justified, but based off his style of play, they’re at least understandable. Now he’ll be reunited with wide receiver Robby Anderson in Carolina, whom he’s shared some success with in the past.

Now add in DJ Moore, Terrace Marshall Jr. and Christian McCaffrey, and he now has plenty of options available. Things will be run through McCaffrey anyway, not Darnold, and that in itself should help him.

Ride it out for a year and see what the investment returns.

Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.

Written by Clint Lamb

Clint Lamb is a College Football Writer for OutKick. Managing Editor for Roll Tide Wire. Sports radio host for The Bullpen on 730/103.9 The UMP. Co-host for The 'Bama Beat podcast through The Tuscaloosa News and TideSports.com.

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