4 emerging alphas on the Carolina Panthers in 2023

Derrick Brown
Derrick Brown / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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Derrick Brown - Carolina Panthers DT

Many thought the jury was still out on Derrick Brown heading into Year 3 of his professional career. His production was fine, but the Carolina Panthers arguably anticipated much more from a player they selected at No. 7 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Brown obviously heard all the doubts about his ability to ever take that next step. But fortunately for the Panthers, it's a challenge the defensive tackle was more than ready for.

The former Auburn star was an absolute revelation in 2022 en route to career numbers across the board. Brown was a dominant force against the run, adapted technically to become more impactful in tight windows, and also wreaked more havoc on double teams than ever before.

There were times when Brown was absolutely unstoppable, single-handedly shifting momentum at the line of scrimmage and rapidly emerging into one of the best young defensive linemen in the business. Something that made the decision to pick up his fifth-year option an easy one for those in power.

Carolina is switching Brown to a 3-4 defensive end within Ejiro Evero's new system. This should give him more room to operate and if the change manages to bring about another upturn in performance levels, then a first Pro Bowl appearance is realistic.

Not only this, but the Panthers will have no choice other than to give Brown a whopping new contract. One that would confirm his status as a core foundational piece long-term.