State of the Panthers: Pre-training camp roster outlook in 2021

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold and Matt Rhule
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold and Matt Rhule /
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Carolina Panthers
(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) Denzel Perryman /

Carolina Panthers LB

Another factor that is extremely important and often underrated in defense is the linebacker core. They may not get all the glamor and attention or nearly as much money as the flashy defensive ends do, but their job is just as important, if not more so.

When looking at recent champions, the need for a good linebacking core becomes more apparent. With names like Shaquil Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul, Kyle Van Noy, and Jordan Hicks gracing the rosters. Clearly, no slouches on that list.

Luke Kuechly was that steady hand and easily the best linebacker in the game during his frustratingly brief yet amazing career. Since his departure, it has proven difficult to find an apt replacement and the Carolina Panthers hope they have found the answer in the brilliant, yet oft-injured, Denzel Perryman.

While on the field there has never been a doubt about Perryman’s ability to perform, the problems arise when he isn’t able to find his way onto it. The former Los Angeles Charger has never completed a full NFL season due to various injuries and there’s nothing in his track record to say that 2021 will be any different.

However, if Perryman is able to stay healthy he is a sure upgrade over last year’s disaster of an experiment that was Tahir Whitehead. He should be able to take some of the pressure that Shaq Thompson crumbled under at points last season.

Lots of ifs there. However, this core has the makings of an above-average to excellent group come next season if all the pieces come together and fire on all cylinders throughout the year.