In order to improve from season to season, players must get better. Believe it or not rookies can help improve a team more than by performing well. You constantly hear that Luke Kuechly or Joe Adams had great stats but never how they served as a leader to the team.
Ron Rivera stated earlier this week that once Jon Beason was out for the season, the defense lacked communication.
Even if all of the rookie, which is very unlikely, are not starters, then if the starter were to get injured they must bring that leadership to fill in the void. While coaches would want to have the void filled statistically, the rest of the defense or offence could suffer without that glue to make them a team.
I look at two rookies who I think will make an impact immediately: Luke Kuechly and Joe Adams!
If Beason or Davis were to get hurt again, knock on wood, then it is important that Kuechly communicate and keep a struggling defense in tact. Kuechly is a leader that can still be heard even if Beason is on the field, you could say that he has Beason’s blind side!
Joe Adams not only will bring a dead special teams back to life again, but he will encourage everyone in the process. Many people that meet Adams refer to the Tennessee game, where he broke nine tackles on a punt return touchdown. It’s that fight in him to never give up on a play that will really boost the spirits on special teams.
He will also carry a momentum to the offence to help them start closer to the endzone and finish drives more efficiently.
Other rookies like Amini Silatolu and Josh Norman will be two rookies that will give a good competition for there respective positions, but will more than likely extend on being a leader under Chris Gamble and Jordan Gross.
Rookie punter Brad Nortman will have to show that he can handle competition being that he is not the only punter on the team anymore, thanks to Nick Harris.
Frank Alexander will defiantly need to step up if he wants to start. The opposite end of Charles Johnson needs to apply pressure and the only way I see Alexander showing leadership is that he steps up and plays big like he did in Oklahoma.
DJ Campbell, the last of the draft picks, can really only watch as the position of safety has seven people in the depth chart, with him being last.
It will be interesting to see how the rookies step up from here, but one thing that I do know is that the Carolina Panthers will most likely have improvement to their 6-10 season a year ago.