2014 Depth Chart: Carolina Panthers
[Chart last updated: 7/7/14]
• Truthfully, Khaled and I had Cam Newton and Jonathan Stewart the other way round. I think Newton’s short range passing is still too inaccurate to rate more than an average overall grade but he felt his running ability and deep passing outweighed that issue. Alternatively, Khaled thought I was being too generous to Stewart because of his injuries. I countered that the grade isn’t about injuries, it’s about likely production and, if not injured, Stewart nearly always delivers in that regard. In the end we decided both should be given the benefit of any doubt and everyone’s a winner!
• Jerricho Cotchery a good starter you question. We’ll stand by the courage of our convictions and state both of us believe he’s been one of the more underrated players of the last five years. Barring one dodgy year in Jets land when he played through a hip injury, his biggest error has been allowing himself to be buried on the Steelers’ depth chart. He does whatever you need and does the most important thing you can ask of any player – deliver.
• The biggest question I’m expecting from Panther fans here is why Charles Johnson isn’t rated higher. Let me pre-empt that with my answer. In 2010 he was sensational (a +37.7 grade) and was rightly rewarded with a huge contract. In the three seasons since then he’s graded a +29.7 combined – good but a long way off that career year. He’s a fine player, but not the exceptional one that was promised.
• All the corners have a similar M.O.. They’ve all flashed talent but failed to deliver on anything like a consistent basis. By way of example Melvin White had a good first game (vs. the Giants), got promoted and fell away not long after that. Of the veterans my guess is Josh Thomas is the one with most chance to come through. He’s had some poor games but nothing truly disastrous and could still come through.
1. Right Guard
Garry Williams’ last real action came in 2012 where he played a balance of bad and good games that ended up somewhere in the middle. He did enough to win the starting role for 2013 in camp but was then tore his ACL 15 snaps into the first regular season game. LSU’s Trai Turner was drafted in the third this year to compete and given the real lack of anything tangible at tackle, from that selection, it’s perhaps obvious they saw this position as a concern too.
2. Early Down Outside Linebacker
Everyone likes Chase Blackburn because he’s a smart football player but he’s very limited athletically and teams that start him are nearly always looking for an upgrade. That upgrade could and should be A.J. Klein who played only 60ish snaps less than Blackburn last year anyway – doing little wrong in the process. On paper it looks like a slam dunk but there’s a reason Blackburn keeps hanging around and I’m not writing him off yet.
3. Strong Safety
Here’s the classic training camp battle. Robert Lester, the free agent rookie from last year that everyone loved in spot duty up until he showed his limitations in the Divisional Playoff game and Roman Harper, the nine year veteran Super Bowl winner that many (including us) see as over the hill. He really struggles in coverage now and with his run support skills also in decline it’s hard to see much beyond his savvy winning him the job. The secondary though is a very poor group and someone will be required to hold it together. Harper may just be that man.
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