5 Panthers cornerstones to build around for success beyond 2022

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Ikem Ekwonu
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Ikem Ekwonu /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Derrick Brown /

Derrick Brown – Carolina Panthers DT

When Derrick Brown entered the NFL as a first-round pick, big things were expected. The defensive tackle didn’t hit the heights many envisaged over his first two seasons, but it’s been a quick rise to prominence in 2022 for a player who now has the world at his feet.

Brown has been nothing short of phenomenal for the Carolina Panthers this season. He’s made a substantial difference on the defensive line interior, causing havoc early and often en route to a potential Pro Bowl campaign.

The former Auburn star’s stats have increased. But a lot of Brown’s good work doesn’t impact the numbers upon further examination.

His ability to clog space and attract attention from multiple offensive linemen frees up space for others. Brown is also more than capable of shifting the line of scrimmage’s trajectory almost single-handed to further enhance his influence.

Any lingering doubts that surrounded Brown’s long-term aspirations have evaporated. This is a core foundational piece that provides an exceptional anchor on defense, which is hard to find and something the Panthers must hold onto at all costs.

Carolina’s decision to pick up Brown’s fifth-year option in 2023 is a no-brainer. If the lineman builds on the best season of his career, then a huge financial outlay won’t be too much further behind.