Derrick Brown - Carolina Panthers DL
Very few have emerged with any credit from a disappointing season. The continued emergence of defensive lineman Derrick Brown has been a shining light amid the constant chaos.
Brown is now regarded as one of the best young linemen anywhere in the league. The former first-round pick is nothing short of phenomenal. He is a supreme force against the run. He absorbs double teams with ruthless efficiency. When the time comes to make a big play, the Auburn product always delivers.
One could make a strong case for Brown being the Panthers' best player right now. Some would argue there's not much debate after watching his growth coupled with exceptional consistency from start to finish this season.
Transitioning Brown from a 4-3 defensive tackle to a 3-4 defensive end has gone better than many envisaged. With the time coming to potentially begin discussions on an extension, the Panthers would be wise to get this resolved at the earliest possible opportunity.
Big changes are coming to the Panthers this offseason. What cannot be disputed is Brown's importance as a foundational piece for long-term success. He's gotten better every year. That should be enough to suggest even greater heights might arrive throughout the player's prime years.