Could Shaq Thompson stand to benefit most from a new regime with the Carolina Panthers in 2020?
Big things are still come regarding Shaq Thompson. The outside linebacker now finds himself as one of the veteran players on the Carolina Panthers roster following a host of moves this offseason. And the franchise will lean on him heavily as their young roster gets up to speed in 2020.
The player has been nothing short of a revelation since he was selected No. 25 overall by the Carolina Panthers in the 2015 NFL Draft. Thompson has racked up some impressive stats during this time. And now more will be needed on a defense that has undergone significant changes in recent months.
This might actually be a good thing for the Panthers going forward. It is clear that this sort of overhaul was needed. And head coach Matt Rhule wasted no time in laying down the foundations.
Thompson has plenty of responsibility on his shoulders. And it will be up to the player to perform to the sort of level that made him an instant fan favorite with Carolina’s loyal fanbase.
Writing on Thompson’s potential impact, Buhler had this to say.
"“Shaq Thompson has a huge opportunity ahead of him. 2020 will be his fifth year as an integral part of the Carolina Panthers. It will also be the first year he’s going to be the face of the linebacking corps, as future Pro Football Hall of Famer Luke Kuechly retired this past offseason. Let’s not overlook this being Thompson’s fifth-year option in Charlotte. It’s a huge year for him already.“Thompson can finally step out of Kuechly’s massive shadow to be the superstar we all saw when he was at UDub playing for Chris Petersen. It might only be a one-year audition in Rhule’s Charlottean reign, but it’s one we’re certainly betting on.”"
If the Panthers want to surprise people in 2020, then they are going to need Thompson at the top of his game. The organization goes into the campaign with plenty of uncertainty. But they have a steady hand at the second level and it will be up to the player to deliver.
Can Shaq Thompson improve further for the Carolina Panthers?
There is nothing to suggest that the Carolina Panthers cannot expect the same or even more production from Shaq Thompson in 2020. Becoming one of the defensive lynchpins has the potential to see the player reach new heights against some formidable-looking offenses on the schedule.
The Panthers’ moving back to a 4-3 defense should also benefit Thompson considerably. He is set to play behind second-year-pro Brian Burns and returning veteran defensive tackle Kawann Short. So he could see more opportunities to rush the passer.
Thompson has never shirked away from a challenge. And to say he has a lot on his plate going into 2020 is something of an understatement.
He has to learn defensive coordinator Phil Snow’s preferred methods, enhance his own physical attributes, and make sure new signings and rookies are pulling their weight during what little time the Panthers have to develop chemistry during camp.
The franchise will be counting on Thompson to keep trending on an upward curve. Expectations could not be higher regarding the player’s ability next season. But whether he can galvanize a Carolina defense that struggled mightily in 2019 is another matter entirely.