Panthers No. 65: Can Dennis Daley bounce back after rookie struggles?

(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) Dennis Daley
(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) Dennis Daley /

Can offensive lineman Dennis Daley overcome his significant rookie struggles to bounce back with the Carolina Panthers in 2020?

One area that will be giving the Carolina Panthers plenty of concern heading into 2020 is their offensive line. We are now just 65 days away from the team’s return to competitive action against the Las Vegas Raiders. And getting off to a good start could be the spark this young roster needs.

If things start to turn sour quickly, the season could go wrong for the Carolina Panthers in no uncertain terms. This is especially evident on offense, where they possess some outstanding weapons and a consistent quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater.

However, should the free-agent signing not get the protection he needs to go through his progressions, it is going to be a long campaign in Carolina. Any offensive line struggles will also have an adverse effect on All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey as he looks to build on a 2019 season that saw him become only the third player in NFL history to go over 1,000-yards rushing and receiving.

Continuing our countdown feature ahead of the new season, we now turn our attention to Carolina’s No. 65. Dennis Daley heads into 2020 looking to put the nightmare of the previous campaign behind him. And there is a lot riding on his fortunes if the player wants to become a prolonged starter in the NFL.

Daley was a victim of circumstance with the Panthers during his rookie season. The player was thrust into a starting spot due to the lack of depth on the offensive line. And the sixth-round pick was simply not ready for such a role.

The tackle gave up seven sacks and four penalties from 686 snaps in 2019. This resulted in a 58.3 grade from Pro Football Focus, which wasn’t at all bad considering.

How can Dennis Daley get back on track with the Carolina Panthers?

There doesn’t appear much chance of Daley starting on the edge next season. The Panthers traded for veteran Russell Okung to put alongside Taylor Moton, who has gone from strength-to-strength over the last two years.

Taking Daley out of the firing line might be the best solution at this stage. The player does have some likable traits. But it is vital that he further develops his skill set in order for the player to become a viable option at the tackle spot going forward.

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The former South Carolina standout is burly enough to move onto the interior if the coaching staff choose to go with this particular option. Daley is 6-foot-6 and 325 pounds. So he wouldn’t have too much trouble dealing with defensive tackles.

This suits his current predicament down to the ground. Daley was like a rabbit in the headlights against pacey pass-rushers during his rookie year. So slotting him at guard might prove to be beneficial both for the player and the organization.

Carolina has plenty of uncertainty regarding all three guard spots. They opted to move Trai Turner in the Okung deal. And it remains to be seen whether Michael Schofield and John Miller are good enough to fill the void.

Daley does have the tools necessary to make a go of things on the interior. But it is essential the player demonstrates his capabilities to a staff that has no real connection to him. They weren’t around when the player was taken in the draft last year. And this leaves him with plenty to prove.

What comes next will be up to Daley. But how much damage 2019 has done to his confidence remains to be seen.

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