CHARLOTTE – For the last few years, ESPN's Bill Barnwell has ranked the groups of offensive weapons for all 32 NFL teams. After the Panthers came in at No. 17 in 2018 and No. 22 last year, Barnwell moved Carolina to No. 5 heading into the 2020 season, behind only the Chiefs, Browns, Cowboys, and Buccaneers.
Barnwell cites running back Christian McCaffrey as the biggest reason for the top-five appearance.
"It's hard for a running back to be more productive than Christian McCaffrey, who finished with the third-most yards from scrimmage (2,392) in NFL history," Barnwell writes.
"McCaffrey scored 19 touchdowns, was efficient as a runner and receiver, absorbed huge volume and only fumbled once on 403 touches. … It's difficult to imagine McCaffrey being quite as productive in 2020, but even 80% of his 2019 season would make him one of the NFL's best backs."
Barnwell also feels DJ Moore may not be getting enough respect after hauling in 87 receptions for 1,175 yards with four touchdowns in his second pro season.
"Moore could be a top-10 receiver with better quarterback play from Teddy Bridgewater this season," Barnwell writes.
Barnwell adds that wide receiver Robby Anderson should also benefit from improved quarterback play after spending his first four seasons with the Jets. Barnwell then notes tight end Ian Thomas is potentially the Panthers' "biggest question" in his first season as a full-time starter.o
Barnwell bases his rankings only on skill positions, which means he does not include the quarterback or offensive line in his valuation. He also does not factor in a long-term outlook and places more weight on top-tier talent and wide receivers than other positions.
You can check out Barnwell's full rankings here.
A first-round pick in 2017, McCaffrey has already set a number of franchise records as he signs a contract extension through 2025 with the Panthers.