It’s hard to pick on an offensive line that contributed to a 15-1 season, and it’s definitely hard to pick on any offensive line that can effectively protect a mobile quarterback like Cam Newton. Yet, to say that the offensive line couldn’t improve would be irrational.
This year, the Carolina Panthers are in an excellent position. With Super Bowl 50 on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, the Panthers are favorites to win the coveted Lombardi Trophy and become world champions. Highlighted by the play of talented young men, Jerry Richardson and Dave Gettleman have comprised a roster of efficient and powerful players, players who have laid the foundation of greatness in the foreseeable future.
With so much talent, there hasn’t been many holes to fill that can’t be solved internally. Colin Jones and Bene Benwikere are set to return to the cornerback situation following their injuries to add to the current core of Josh Norman, Cortland Finnegan and possibly Robert McLain (Charles Tillman may retire). Jared Allen still has one year left on his current contract, and the talent of Charles Johnson, Kony Ealy, Ryan Delaire and Mario Addison should progress enough to replicate the success Carolina produced.
Tre Boston has also been in the shadows awaiting his return to the starting defensive core should Roman Harper leave or is let go. Kelvin Benjamin should return from a torn ACL to compliment the growth of Devin Funchess, Corey “Philly” Brown and possibly Ted Ginn Jr, although they may further improve their receiving core through the draft.
Last year, the Carolina Panthers selected 6-foot-5 offensive tackle Daryl Williams out of the University of Oklahoma in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Williams, a three-year starter for the Sooners, was undoubtedly drafted by Carolina in hopes for the future. With excellent strength and size, Williams was to fit right in and compete for a starting Tackle position. Though Williams is still a work in progress after minor injury scares, he continues to improve and progress for an improving offensive line. This year, another prospect could top the list of potential Panthers.
Jason Spriggs, the four-year starter out of the University of Indiana is a monster. After coming in as a true freshman, Spriggs became a 34-game starter in Indiana. A force to be reckoned with, he stands 6-foot-7 to go along with his 305-pound frame. With the same frame that he uses to abuse college athletes, Spriggs wreaks havoc to defensive lines across the nation. Capable of effectively run blocking through the first two levels of defense, as well as providing excellent pass protection, Spriggs provides the foundation of a dynamic tackle prospect. Quickness, length, control, heavy hands and strength all highlight the Indiana standout’s positives.
Yet, with great strength comes great weaknesses. Spriggs, who has shown great growth as a star in the trench, has shown small inconsistencies in the technique he uses. Sometimes he may rise too high or fail to place his hands in the correct place, inadvertently leaving himself open to oncoming defensive lineman or other times he may rely too much on his strength instead of solid technique.
However, Spriggs remains a solid pick for many teams. If the Panthers were to draft him, they would be receiving a player with a solid foundation of talent and power. As stated, it’s hard to pick on an offensive line that is Super Bowl bound. However, shoring up a position of great importance with a talented and dedicated prospect continues the growth of a young team. The play of current starters Michael Oher and Mike Remmers has been amazing, but with the drafting of Spriggs and the progress of Williams in both tackle positions, the future of the Panthers legacy could continue to grow.