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Panthers head coach Matt Rhule talks up Sam Darnold in explaining why team passed on drafting QB

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule doesn’t seem fazed by his decision not to draft a quarterback last week, even though the team was in prime position to do so.

The Panthers selected cornerback Jaycee Horn with the eighth overall pick, opting to go the “safe” route, rather than taking a flyer on a signal-caller like Mac Jones, who landed with the Patriots not too long after.

It was rumored that the Panthers would draft a quarterback; if not in the first round, then later on. They traded away Teddy Bridgewater, and acquired reclamation project Sam Darnold. Behind him on the depth chart are PJ Walker and Will Grier, neither of which appear to be ready to start under center anytime soon.

On paper, it looked as if the Panthers would draft a young quarterback to develop and learn behind Darnold, while also putting some pressure on the former Jets signal-caller. They did not, however, and Rhule recently explained why.

“I just believe in Sam, I believe that he deserves the opportunity to go out and play with us,” Rhule said on “The Rich Eisen Show,” as transcribed by “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.”

The Panthers sure are putting a lot of faith in Darnold. We’ll see how it plays out for them.