Our defense is amongst the elite in the NFL and 2014 should be another dominating year for our D. We have a magnificent blend of speed, strength, youth and veteran leadership to frustrate and confuse opposing offenses. This begs the question – Who will lead the Carolina Panthers in total sacks for 2014?
Thomas Davis is a true warrior that loves the game of football. The man is a walking miracle of science after three ACL tears in one knee. He didn’t let the injuries keep him down, and 2013 was arguably one of his best seasons as a Panther. Second on the team in tackles (123), Davis is a natural leader and has that work ethic that is rare to come across. Davis truly is one of the Panthers’ fan-favorites.
Tommy Tomlinson on Thomas Davis, from an ESPN article in 2013:
Thomas Davis, 30 years old, on a knee ripped apart three times, is the best he’s ever been.
Greg Hardy jumps off the page with his rare speed-to-strength attributes. At only 25-years old, Hardy is just entering his prime. The former Ole Miss standout is an intimidating force coming off the edge and gets after the quarterback with ease. The Kraken’s approach to the game is very reminiscent of John Randle and he wants to destroy his opponents on every play. Hardy wore the crown as the sack leader in 2013 with 15 sacks. It will be interesting to see his focus while wearing the franchise tag this season.
“Big Money” earned his cheddar in 2013 with 11 sacks and was constantly being double-teamed. Charles Johnson is a perfect yin to Hardy’s yang as he is a more complete DE. Johnson is equally stout against the run as he is at getting after quarterbacks. The former Georgia Bulldog is extremely powerful, yet agile for a man that is 285-pounds. Johnson will turn 28 this summer, but he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down.
Arguably the top MLB in the league, Luke Kuechly has become the face of the Carolina defense. In only his second year, Kuechly won Defensive Player of the Year for 2013. Kuechly loves to play physical and he has the range to cover east and west, in addition to north and south. He led the Panthers in tackles (156), and was tied for the lead in interceptions (4). The ex-Boston College product is a polished and balanced linebacker that thrives against the run.
Star Lotulelei enjoyed a quiet, yet successful rookie campaign last year. He is tremendously strong and very hard to move off the ball. Lotulelei eats up space, yet is very agile for a 315-pound mountain. His powerful first punch and crafty footwork give him an immediate advantage in the trenches. At 24-years old, Lotulelei is just getting comfortable in the NFL and will continue to improve. He finished in the top-5 for votes as Defensive Rookie of the Year.
What do you think Panther Nation? Who gets your vote?