Panthers: 3 position groups under the most pressure in 2020

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Michael Schofield
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Michael Schofield /
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Shaq Thompson, Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) Shaq Thompson /

Carolina Panthers Position No. 3: Linebacker

To say things look far different in the Carolina Panthers’ linebacker room in 2020 would be an understatement. The organization lost perennial All-Pro Luke Kuechly to a shock retirement following the 2019 season. And his loss on the field and in the locker room is going to be immensely hard to replace.

Bruce Irvin has also departed the franchise in favor of a return to the Seattle Seahawks. And this leaves players who were on the outside looking in last season in with a chance of stepping up.

The Panthers brought in Tahir Whitehead to pick up the slack at middle linebacker. The former Las Vegas Raider is a strong tackling presence that should thrive as  Carolina reverts back to a 4-3 base scheme. And although his coverage skills are questionable, the player has a previous relationship with Matt Rhule from their time at Temple that should see a smooth transition into the lineup.

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There is plenty riding on the fortunes of Shaq Thompson next season. The outside linebacker is making all the right noises in terms of stepping up. But translating this into increased production on the field is going to be crucial.

The position opposite Thompson is seemingly up for grabs. Carolina has the option of using Jermaine Carter or Christian Miller at this spot. And there is even the possibility of second-rounder Yetur Gross-Matos being utilized during pass-rushing packages.

Carolina’s decision-makers opted not to bring in a long-term replacement for Kuechly this offseason. But if this group fails to deliver, then it is an area that could see a huge overhaul in 2021.

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