The main focus of course will be the defense. The squad is a shadow of what it was on day one. The loss of key players, and back-ups, made it near impossible for Carolina to have a fighting chance. Naturally, I evaluate the most outstanding players on both sides of the ball. Once we had the moral victory bull out of our system, we, as fans, were able to see Carolina for what they really are: the future of the NFL. So, check back after the break if you care to see my overall evaluations, and what we can do to fix any problems.
You may think I’m crazy for giving them a B+. I know exactly what you are thinking: They didn’t perform all year, and Beason and Davis were hurt. Well, with what they had to work with, seeing aas Marty Hurney doesn’t believe in mid-season signings obviously, they did okay. Jordan Senn surprised me when I saw him live in Houston. James Anderson proved that he should get almost as much money as Jon Beason. Overall, the core has some growing to do, but they will be fine next season.
Defensive Backs: C+
I just don’t think that Captain has the makings of a starter. He’s too short, and he is getting beat on a constant basis. Chris Gamble, Sherrod Martin, and Charles Godfrey managed to hold big names to small games, and played like they always do: amazing. I expect the Panthers to draft a DB with the 8th/9th overall pick.
Defensive Line: C
When Carolina revealed that a small 3rd round draft pick would start on the line, I knew there would be problems against the run. Then they decided to start 2 rookies on the line I immediately knew the Panthers would have trouble winning games. The Panthers had a few sleepers this season when Antwan Applewhite and Neblett stepped up and performed when they had a chance. Charles Johnson was able to lead the d-line, and looked very good doing it. Expect the Panthers to try and find a solid DT in the draft or free agency.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: A-
Their success may be an effect left behind by Cam Newton, but the additions of Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey, in coalition with the renewed Steve Smith, made Carolina have one of the most dangerous passing games in the league. The only problem presented to this group is: Who is #2? Many will say Brandon LaFell, but I don’t see him as an effective #2. Maybe, David Gettis can do this when he comes back next season, but I don’t know about him either. I firmly believe that if Justin Blackmon drops to the Panthers in the draft, they HAVE to draft him.
Running Backs: B-
I watched in horror as D-Will failed to live up to his monster contract during the first few weeks of the season. I was one of the thousands calling for J-Stew to start as he was more productive at the time. Once Chud realized Carolina could blast opponents with a run attack, Williams productivity popped up. Overall the Panthers are perfect at RB, because with the addition of Cam Newton, the Panthers can produce almost 2k yards rushing a season.
Offensive Line: C+
When news broke that Geoff Schwartz was injured, I knew Cam Newton’s ability to run would come in handy. Then Otah was hurt again, and Byron Bell was forced to step up. Needless to say, Bell is a rookie and needs work. I for one believe it is time to cut ties with Otah. They are paying him too much money for him to sit over half a season for what seems like a decade. I would like the Panthers to draft Matt Kalil if he falls to #8/#9, but I doubt that will happen. So, Carolina needs to do some research and find a 2nd round gem.
I’m not going in depth with this once, because we have done enough ranting and raving about Cam Newton, and we all know his stats. Now I will say, I wouldn’t be completely surprised if Carolina do draft a QB in the 7th round, or sign an undrafted free agent. Before you freak on me, hear me out. Derek Anderson was a great mentor for a rookie, but now we need someone who can step up in the event that Cam gets hurt. We know Clausen can’t do it, so why not take a QB with a running ability, and throw him in if Cam gets hurt.
Tags: Brandon LaFell Byron Bell Cam Newton Carolina Panthers Charles Johnson David Gettis DeAngelo Williams Geoff Schwartz Greg Olsen Jeff Otah Jeremy Shockey Jonathan Stewart Legedu Naanee Steve Smith