The Carolina Panthers finished the 2020 NFL regular season with a record of 5-11 and in third place in the NFC North. For their efforts, Carolina will have the eighth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, making it only the second time since 2012 that they are picking within the top-10.
Despite their record, first-year head coach Matt Rhule had his team prepared and ready to play each week. The front office elected to end the Cam Newton era, and Rhule and first-year offensive coordinator Joe Brady brought in Teddy Bridgewater as the new starter. Bridgewater had solid moments under center, and had a multitude of weapons at his disposal in D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, and Curtis Samuel.
However, the veteran quarterback really missed star running back Christian McCaffrey, who missed a majority of the season due to nagging injuries. Many mock drafts believe that Carolina will take a quarterback in the first round, especially after they used multiple picks in the 2020 draft to address their defense, which had its good moments this season.
The Panthers will face their NFC South divisional opponents six times, half at home and half on the road. In addition, they draw matchups against all for teams from the AFC East and NFC East. The NFL is expected to add a 17th game to the regular season schedule that will feature an inter-conference matchup with a similarly placed team. The Panthers would face the AFC South.