5 potential liabilities on the Carolina Panthers in 2022

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Ian Thomas
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Ian Thomas /
3 of 5
Carolina Panthers
(Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports) Damien Wilson /

Carolina Panthers MLB position

Another year passes without a long-term plan at the middle linebacker position. Luke Kuechly’s presence is still sorely missed on the field and within the locker room, which is something the Carolina Panthers haven’t managed to replace effectively since the perennial All-Pro’s shock retirement.

Jermaine Carter wasn’t brought back, leaving the Panthers moving forward with Damien Wilson after arriving in free agency from the Jacksonville Jaguars. The veteran is a solid force against the run, but some clear deficiencies in coverage mean the jury is still out about his chances of improving consistency.

The Panthers also secured the services of Cory Littleton, who is far more accomplished defending the pass. Perhaps indicating that defensive coordinator Phil Snow will chop and change the middle linebacker spot depending on the situation.

One positive element of this positional group is the early impact of rookie Brandon Smith. The fourth-round selection out of Penn State looks like a player of real promise that might emerge as a starting option later in the campaign.

Carolina has a solid outside linebacker tandem in Shaq Thompson and Frankie Luvu. But it won’t take long for opposing offenses to figure out if the interior can be exploited.