Carolina Panthers: A Look at the Pre-Draft State of the Team-Part 2

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) James Bradberry
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) James Bradberry /

Defense is the name of the game for the Carolina Panthers in the second installment of this series.

The defensive back situation on the Carolina Panthers is  one that I feel can and should be answered early in the draft, but not for many reasons.

At cornerback, the Panthers have Donte Jackson and James Bradberry as its starters. Notice that Jackson was mentioned first. Jackson is quickly becoming a unique and important piece to the Panthers back line and has shown tremendous improvement and understanding since coming into the league. Bradberry, the other starting safety has built a reputation as a physical corner who could possibly become a shutdown corner, but the lack of turnovers isn’t putting the team in positions to win. This is not to say he should be given up on, but Bradberry has to improve and increase his turnover abilities to truly become a dominant corner in the league.

More from Cat Crave

The Panthers also have Ross Cockrell, who was supposed to compete with Bradberry for the starting position before a training camp injury shut his 2018 season down. Cockrell, has the ability to be a great starting corner and still could possibly challenge Bradberry for the position if he can return to form. But the real problem lies in the nickel cornerback and free safety positions. Former Panther Captain Munnerlyn was exposed multiple times during the season as the nickel corner and often had the misfortune of his height being a hindrance in a pass happy league. During his first year back (the 2017-18 season) after leaving for Minnesota, Munnerlyn was noted for being frustrated after not being played enough, yet his increased time in the next year would serve as a reminder to all why it was worth keeping his exposure limited.

Mike Adams, the veteran free safety, began the year on fire but quickly trailed off and began showing signs of fatigue and decline. Both veterans added to a host of other problems that inadvertently lead to a tumultuous season that quickly saw the Panthers fade further away from its playoff dreams. In a faster league that’s focused on young, physical men, the Panthers were seemingly getting too old and too stagnant to compete with the new school. The Panthers do have players who could see an opportunity to compete.

Related Story. Pre-Draft State of the Team-Part 1. light

Rashaan Gaulden is a player the Panthers have had high hopes for, Da’Norris Searcy remains with the team despite his medical issues, and practice squad players Cole Luke and Kai Nacua are all players who can potentially compete as starters and role players. But adding another body to compete should also increase the likelihood of a reliable player being chosen in either position.

Personally, I’d like to see a new player chosen to compete for the free safety position because no player seems to inspire much fear, and though I like Kai Nacua’s potential, the team needs a high quality player to pair with Eric Reid.