‘I Just Believe in Sam’- Carolina Panthers Head Coach Matt Rhule on Why Franchise Opted Not to Draft a QB

Published 05/05/2021, 8:15 AM EDT
Dec 20, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) looks to pass against the Los Angeles Rams during the first half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


The Carolina Panthers raised a few eyebrows by drafting cornerback Jaycee Horn with their 1st-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Despite the franchise trading for QB Sam Darnold from the New York Jets, the belief was that the Panthers would draft a QB. 

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The franchise last made a Super Bowl back in 2015 with Cam Newton as quarterback. But since then the franchise has gone nowhere close to playing the big game.  

The Panthers experimented with QB Teddy Bridgewater in 2020 to not much success. The Panthers had a chance to draft either QB Justin Fields or Mac Jones who were still on the board when they made the 8th overall pick.

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But Head Coach Matt Rhule explained why the franchise opted against it.

Sam is the man for the Carolina Panthers 

Appearing on the Rich Eisen Show, Rhule talked about the team’s decision to not draft a rookie QB. 

“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.

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Rhule also said that he believes Sam Darnold deserves a shot at being the side’s QB1. “We’re just trying to build the whole team and I just believe in Sam. I believe that he deserves the opportunity to go out and play with us.”

And given the franchise had the chance to pick elite cornerback prospect, Jaycee Horn, the Panthers felt it was an offer too good to turn down.

“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.”

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Jan 3, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) looks to pass under pressure from New England Patriots defensive end Chase Winovich (50) during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers will now enter the 2021 NFL season with Sam Darnold as their QB1. Darnold has received rave reviews from fans, scouts, and analysts alike during his tenure in the NFL as Jets player.

But now with a new franchise, the 2018 1st-round pick will look to set the record straight. 

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 READ MORE: ‘Go Ahead and Retire’ – NFL Legend Terry Bradshaw Rips into Aaron Rodgers

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Shivayan Roy

779 articles

Shivayan Roy is currently an NFL writer at EssentiallySports. After completing his Masters Diploma in Journalism from the Asian College of Journalism, Roy functioned as a reporter for Goal.com and extensively covered the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

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