Is Matt Paradis an upgrade over Carolina Panthers Ryan Kalil?
The Carolina Panthers filled a vacancy at center, but is it an upgrade?
Former Carolina Panthers center Ryan Kalil earned a full time starting position during his second year in the league and went on to anchor the offensive line for over a decade. He earned five Pro Bowl nominations and twice was a first-team All Pro recipient, in addition to helping protect multiple quarterbacks – most notably Cam Newton since the 2011 season.
A second-round draft choice of current general manager Marty Hurney, in the heart of his first stint with the team, Kalil blossomed into a captain and fan favorite. Prior to last year, Kalil announced his intentions to retire after 2018, leaving a vacancy up front in Carolina. Backup Tyler Larsen played well when needed but ultimately Hurney and the Panthers decided to acquire a free agent.
Matt Paradis recently signed a three-year, $27 million contract becoming the newest member of the Panthers. Expected to immediately fill in the starting role, much has been made about his protection ability – allowing just six sacks over the past four years. Impressive, but is he an upgrade over Kalil?
According to Pro Football Focus, both centers should be considered in conversations about the league’s best. Despite battling injuries, Kalil played 3,137 snaps since 2015 and allowed a sack less than one-percent (0.29) of the time. His nine sacks surrendered in four seasons almost equal Paradis’ production.
Not missing a play during his first three years, Paradis suffered a fractured fibula and ended 2018 on Injured Reserve. Through 4,069 snaps prior, he gave up just six sacks (0.15 percent), playing his way into best center in the game discussions.
Paradis is no slouch in terms of other protection measures either, he’s only ever allowed 14 quarterback hits and 50 hurries. Kalil gave up 10 hits with 57 hurries while playing significantly fewer snaps since 2015.
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Statistically, a slight improvement may exist but there are two critical factors that must be considered prior to making any absolute determinations. How Paradis responds from his injury and if he can perform at the same high level moving forward will be key. Obviously the Panthers have full faith in him and until shown otherwise, everyone else should too.
Finally, Paradis has been in the league for only four years whereas Kalil anchored the offensive line for 12 solid seasons. His veteran leadership, coupled with both roles in the huddle and inside the locker room are going to be difficult to replace. Paradis needs to string together solid production in all areas over the course of his contract before any real comparisons can begin.
Until then, the Panthers undoubtedly signed a quality player but if he should be considered an upgrade remains to be seen.
For more grades, advanced statistics and more at Pro Football Focus, subscribe to PFF’s EDGE or ELITE subscriptions at ProFootballFocus.com.