Carolina Panthers Player No. 1: Stephen Weatherly (DE)
The Carolina Panthers might have a dilemma surrounding Stephen Weatherly if preseason games had taken place. The free-agent signing was brought in on a two-year, $12.5 million deal in free agency. And he should now get the chance to make a prominent starting position his own.
Weatherly has worked incredibly hard to make his way from a seventh-round pick to be given this type of opportunity. But he will need to stake his claim early and often in 2020 thanks to the presence of Yetur Gross-Matos.
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The Panthers feel they got one of the NFL Draft’s steals when the former Penn State sensation fell into their laps at No. 38 overall. And he has all the makings of a superb pass-rusher at the next level thanks to his outstanding athleticism and explosiveness.
Gross-Matos is still a little rough around the edges. But if he makes a smooth initial transition then the edge rusher should be seeing the field plenty during his rookie campaign.
Whether Carolina’s coaching staff decides to use him as a defensive end or an outside linebacker remains to be seen. There is no doubt he would be extremely useful at both spots in certain situations. And Weatherly can be thankful that there is no preseason for Gross-Matos to further catch the eye.
This should be enough for the ex-Minnesota Viking to slot in opposite Brian Burns on the edge. And the duo will get plenty of space do make an impact due to No. 7 overall selection Derrick Brown and Kawann Short occupying the interior.