Carolina Panthers: 4 bold predictions on defense in 2020

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Kawann Short
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Kawann Short /
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Brian Burns, Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) Brian Burns /

Carolina Panthers prediction No. 1: League-leading sack totals

The Carolina Panthers might have struggled on defense overall in 2020. But they had no trouble whatsoever getting to the quarterback.

Their outstanding pass-rushers finished No. 2 overall in the NFL on sacks gained with 53, just one behind the top-ranked Pittsburgh Steelers. Despite the likes of Mario Addison and Bruce Irvin no longer on the roster, the Panthers have a good chance to go one better and lead the league in this particular statistic in 2020.

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Much will depend on whether Brian Burns can make the expected strides forward during his sophomore campaign. The former first-round pick secured 7.5 sacks from 42 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in 2019. And much more is predicted to come as the Panthers’ No. 1 option at defensive end.

Free-agent signing Stephen Weatherly is another that has the potential to reach double-digits with more time on the field. The player performed well backing up Pro Bowl duo Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen with the Minnesota Vikings. So moving to a starting role could bring even more production going forward.

The interior should also get pressure thanks to the presence of No. 7 overall pick Derrick Brown and veteran Kawann Short. And the Panthers also secured the services of ex-Penn State standout Yetur Gross-Matos after he fell into their laps in round two of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Carolina’s front seven looks to be an area of real strength. And role players such as Zach Kerr, Efe Obada, Christian Miller, and Marquis Haynes also have the scope to do some damage when called upon.