What can Weatherly bring to the Panthers defense in 2020?

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) Stephen Weatherly
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) Stephen Weatherly /
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(Photo by Rob Leiter/Getty Images) Stephen Weatherly
(Photo by Rob Leiter/Getty Images) Stephen Weatherly /

Stephen Weatherly’s rise to prominence

Stephen Weatherly quietly emerged as a vital cog for the Minnesota Vikings’ defense. Other big names got the headlines, but that does not detract from the outstanding job he did for the franchise over the last two seasons.

Weatherly finished the season on a high with sacks against the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears while also managing to drop Jimmy Garoppolo during Minnesota’s playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

In total, Weatherly notched 24 combined tackles, three sacks, and a forced fumble in 2019. This production came from just 38.5 percent of the team’s snaps while also including nine quarterback hits and five tackles for loss.

This was the best possible scenario for Weatherly, who has more than exceeded expectations after being drafted in the seventh round out of Vanderbilt. He is a stout run defender who has taken full advantage of the opportunities that have come his way.

Weatherly got considerable playing time in 2018 in place of the absent Everson Griffen, notching 35 combined tackles and three sacks in six starts. He grew in stature during this period and the added experience has aided his overall development considerably.

There is still time for Weatherly to improve even further with more chances to shine. He is still only 26-years-old and he has the prime of his career ahead of him.

This is good news for the Carolina Panthers, who went all out to acquire his services in free agency.