Carolina Panthers: 3 positions that could be better than expected

(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) John Miller
(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) John Miller /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) Tahir Whitehead /

Carolina Panthers position No. 3: Linebacker

The Carolina Panthers lost legendary linebacker Luke Kuechly to retirement this offseason. This has left a gaping hole on and off the field within the organization. And this has left plenty of uncertainty across their second level in 2020.

Tahir Whitehead will be tasked with slotting into Kuechly’s shoes in the short-term. The former Las Vegas Raider has been a solid contributor during his career. And he is coming off a campaign where he recorded 108 combined tackles.

He is experienced enough to plug the gap. Whitehead is a strong tackler who possesses the right sort of instincts. But his ability in coverage has been an area of concern throughout his career.

Shaq Thompson is keen to assume a leadership role following a number of veteran departures this offseason. This is his sixth year in the NFL. And the Panthers will be counting on him more than most to produce the goods in the coming months.

Who lines up opposite Thompson at outside linebacker is still up in the air. Jermaine Carter and Marquis Haynes appear to be the favorites to secure the starting spot. And second-rounder Yetur Gross-Matos might also see some time on the edge in pass-rushing situations.

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Carolina’s defensive front looks especially strong. And if the linebacker corps can hold up its end of the bargain. Then it is going to come with some surprising results from a performance perspective.