Prior to the 2012 season, the Carolina Panthers acquired offensive lineman Bruce Campbell in a trade with the Oakland Raiders. At the time of the trade, it seemed as if the Panthers could turn out with a steal, as the former fourth-round pick was just 24 years old and still had plenty of untapped potential.
He was selected in the fourth round of the 2010 draft mainly due to his headline-stealing NFL combine workout, in which he looked more like a skill position player than an NFL offensive lineman. The Raiders, who never shy away from height/weight/speed prospects, gave Campbell a chance, however his physical tools never translated to success.
With the Panthers last season, his struggles to touch the field continued, as he was active for just five games and only saw the field in a sparse role. He saw time at both tackle and guard, but didn’t have enough playing time to show if he has improved since his Oakland days.
Now in his second season with the Panthers, could this finally be Campbell’s chance to turn the corner in his career and tap into some of his untouched potential?
The bright side for Campbell is that there isn’t any pressure for him to compete for a starting job as Jordan Gross and Byron Bell will assume the starting left and right tackle jobs, respectively. Where Campbell has a chance to succeed, however, is at right tackle. Both Campbell and Bell are free agents after the 2013 season. Bell will be a restricted free agent; Campbell unrestricted.
Bell has struggled so far in his career to prove that he can be a reliable starting right tackle in the NFL, and if Campbell can show by the end of the season that he can do just as good of a job as Bell, the Panthers may favor Campbell in free agency next year. Campbell’s physical tools may give him a leg up over Bell, which could help him prove to the Carolina coaching staff that there is hope for him to succeed in the NFL.
There figures to be no shortage of shuffling around along the Carolina offensive line this season, and Campbell may see extensive playing time depending on how he develops during training camp.
The 2014 season is a prime opportunity for Campbell to revive his promising career, and Carolina may just be the right place for him to find a long-term home in the NFL.