Panthers No. 48: Does Chris Orr have what it takes at the next level?

(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) Chris Orr
(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) Chris Orr /

Does undrafted free-agent linebacker Chris Orr have what it takes to defy the odds and make the Carolina Panthers’ 53-man roster in 2020?

The Carolina Panthers have plenty of questions at the linebacker spot heading into the 2020 season. They were dealt a hammer blow when legendary figure Luke Kuechly announced his shock retirement after a prolific eight-year career. And his absence is going to leave a huge void on the field and within the locker room.

Tahir Whitehead is the man that the Carolina Panthers hand-picked to replace Kuechly. The former Las Vegas Raider links up with his former college coach Matt Rhule once again on a one-year, $2.5 million deal. But the player is the wrong side of 30 now, so a long-term replacement needs to be sought at the earliest possible opportunity.

There is every chance that Whitehead can fill the role for the next few years if he performs well in 2020. But there are plenty of exciting young prospects who harbor ambitions of earning a place on the roster during a pivotal training camp for the Panthers.

Continuing our countdown feature ahead of the new season, we now turn our attention to Carolina’s No. 48. Chris Orr is another that failed to hear his name called in the 2020 NFL Draft. And he arrives in Carolina with a big point to prove.

Can Chris Orr make a notable impression with the Carolina Panthers?

The former Wisconsin standout did well to overcome a serious injury and secure a successful college career with the Badgers. Although he is somewhat undersized for a linebacker at the next level. Orr compensates for this with ruthless aggression that is sure to catch the eye of the coaching staff.

His 6-foot frame comes with a ferocity that really sets him apart. Orr is a solid tackler and his instincts on the field allow the player to penetrate gaps consistently.

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Orr finished his time in college with 188 combined tackles, 101 solo tackles, 15 sacks, three forced fumbles, and two interceptions. This included a career-high 11.5 sacks in 2019. And he also accumulated 21 tackles for loss.

This represents outstanding production from someone that tore their ACL in 2016. Orr’s low center of gravity enables him to get underneath blocking attempts. And his athletic versatility is another eye-catching feature of his game.

Things will not be easy for undrafted college recruits this offseason. The Panthers’ program has been severely hampered due to the current climate. And Orr will not get the chance to showcase his skill set on the field with no preseason games.

These factors might lead to NFL teams opting to go with experience over an unproven prospect. But Carolina’s lack of expectations during the first year of their rebuild under Rhule might dictate opportunities for young players who impress from the off.

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Orr will not be found wanting for effort, of that there is little doubt. His competitive edge is something that plays a leading role in his impact on the second level. And it is hard not to like the way he goes about his business.

Whether that will be enough at the next level is another matter entirely. Orr has it all to do going into camp. And he would represent something of a gamble if he makes the Panthers’ 53-man roster.

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