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Ben McAdoo considers Sam Darnold the Panthers' starting quarterback, even if he feels he shouldn't have voiced that publicly. The former Giants head coach and current Panthers new offensive coordinator recently walked back his "Yes" response to being asked whether he considers Darnold to be the Panthers' starting quarterback. 

"One of the things I've been working on is being better talking to you people," McAdoo said. "So, announcing the starting quarterback here, I just put my foot in my mouth. That wasn't something I should have said." 

Carolina is expected to select a quarterback with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. CBS Sports' consensus mock draft has the Panthers using the pick to select former Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett, who this past fall led the Panthers to an ACC championship. Carolina may also choose to select former Liberty quarterback Malik Willis or former Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral, assuming neither player is selected before the Panthers are on the clock. There's also the possibility that Carolina passes on taking a quarterback in the first round. 

The Panthers enjoyed early success with Darnold in 2020, his first season in Carolina after spending this first three seasons with the Jets. Carolina started the season with a 3-0 record before losing four consecutive games. Darnold, who threw seven interceptions during Carolina's losing streak, was later sidelined for five weeks with a shoulder injury. He returned in a relief role during the team's Week 15 loss to the Buccaneers. Darnold then started the Panthers' final two games, an 18-10 loss to the Saints and a 41-17 blowout loss in Tampa. He finished the season with more interceptions (13) than touchdown passes (nine) while failing to complete 60% of his passes. 

Panthers coach Matt Rhule, who made history in 2020 by using all seven of his draft picks on defensive players, recently said he envisions one of the above quarterbacks being a top-10 pick. And while he didn't rule out taking a quarterback with the Panthers' first pick, Rhule said it was anything but a guarantee. 

"I think when you take a guy in the top 10 in the first round, you have to be really sure that they're going to be a good player," Rhule said, via the team website. "That being said, it's such a long process. It's literally up to the day of the draft. Every new bit of information you get changes and skews your viewpoint. So we're just trying to be diligent about being blindfolded and looking at the information, not based on our needs, but based on who's what, where do they go. If we do that, I think we'll make a good decision."