Sack projections for the Panthers’ top 8 pass-rushers in 2020

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Brian Burns
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Brian Burns /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Derrick Brown /

Carolina Panthers Player No. 6: Derrick Brown – DT

Big things are expected of Derrick Brown during his rookie season with the Carolina Panthers. The No. 7 overall pick arrives with lofty expectations on his shoulders. And his presence on the defensive line interior has the potential to completely turnaround the team’s fortunes.

Brown excels in run stopping. But there are some who question his ability to get to the quarterback at the next level. This is something that was missing at times in college. But in fairness to the former Auburn standout, he was double-teamed on almost every play.

This is something that might change in the NFL. Brown is certainly quick-footed enough to make a real difference. And he might end up making his doubters look particularly foolish next season.

Prediction: 4.5 sacks

Carolina Panthers Player No. 5: Shaq Thompson – OLB

Shaq Thompson is eager to emerge as a defensive lynchpin for the Panthers next season. Plenty of locker room leaders decided to take their chances elsewhere during free agency. And Carolina was also dealt a substantial blow with the shock retirement of Luke Kuechly after eight sensational seasons with the organization.

This is a big season for Thompson, who is set to earn a substantial pay rise from 2021 onwards. He will need to prove worthy of such a significant financial commitment. And if his preseason ambitions are any indication, the former first-round selection could put up some career numbers.

Prediction: 5.0 sacks

Carolina Panthers Player No. 4: Kawann Short – DT

To say the Carolina Panthers missed Kawann Short last season would be something of an understatement. The defensive tackle lasted just two games before a torn rotator cuff put him on the injured reserve list. But the Pro Bowler is expected to make a return to full health next time around.

This is going to be crucial if the Panthers want to surprise people in 2020. Short and Brown promise to be a productive tandem on the defensive line interior. And having the first-rounder alongside him should make sure the veteran performs well during the penultimate year of his deal.

Short might be playing his last season in Carolina. He is set to count a whopping $20.83 million against the salary cap in 2021. But even if he is moved on by the organization next spring. A strong showing will make him a hot commodity on the free-agent market.

Prediction: 6.0 sacks