Now that the Carolina Panthers are well into their offseason workouts, I thought I would take a moment and run down my thoughts on the roster. The following reflects the Panthers personnel as it is today. Of course, many things could change between now and September. And yes, there will be revisions made to this projection from time to time. But for now, this is likely what your 2017 Carolina Panthers would look like.
Quarterbacks (3) – Cam Newton, Derek Anderson, Joe Webb. Every year some speculate that Joe Webb may not make the team, and every year they are proven wrong. Webb is a bigly important piece of the puzzle in terms of special teams. He isn’t going anywhere.
Running backs (3) – Jonathan Stewart, Christian McCaffrey, Fozzy Whitaker. The only question here is between Fozzy and Cameron Artis-Payne. Artis-Payne is more of a between the tackles runner should Jonathan Stewart miss playing time, but the Panthers have clearly shown they prefer Fozzy overall. For now, I am going with Whitaker.
Fullback (1) Darrell Young. Yes, the Carolina Panthers did draft Armah late in the draft. However, he is a bit of a project. I suspect the Panthers will go with the veteran this year. Look for Armah on the practice squad.
Offensive line (10) Matt Kalil, Andrew Norwell, Ryan Kalil, Trai Turner, Daryl Williams, Taylor Moton, Chris Scott, Tyler Larson, Amini Silatolu, Michael Oher. Obviously the biggest question mark here is Michael Oher. No one really knows if he will be in a Panthers uniform this year, including the Panthers. If not, another offensive tackle will replace him.
Wide Receivers (5) Kelvin Benjamin, Devin Funchess, Curtis Samuel, Russell Shepard, Charles Johnson. I can’t see the Panthers keeping six receivers this year with Christian McCaffrey able to play the slot role better than most on the team. Fan favorite Damiere Byrd is very much still in the mix, but will once again need to prove himself. The Panthers brought in Shepard and Johnson for a reason. Byrd is still practice squad eligible, btw.
Tight Ends (3) Greg Olsen, Ed Dickson, Scott Simonson. Well, here we are again. One tight end that is incredible and two others that don’t inspire much confidence. Seems like we have been here before. Hopefully a young prospect will step up this year and claim a roster spot. Fingers crossed.
Defensive line (9) Charles Johnson, Kawann Short, Star Lotulelei, Julius Peppers, Vernon Butler, Mario Addison, Daeshon Hall, Kyle Love, Wes Horton. Many of these guys can play both defensive tackle and defensive end, giving the entire unit a great amount of flexibility. The Panthers made the mistake of cutting Love and Horton last year. Later, they were re-signed and out performed others on the team. I don’t think they make the same mistake this year.
Linebackers (7) Thomas Davis, Luke Kuechly, Shaq Thompson, David Mayo, Jeremy Cash, Ben Jacobs, Ben Boulware. If Ben Boulware hoped to keep his name here he is going to need to be an angry demon on special teams. The Carolina Panthers really don’t need a third middle linebacker on the team. Should be interesting to watch.
Corners (5) James Bradberry, Daryl Worley, Captain Munnerlyn, Corn Elder, Teddy Williams. Probably the best group of corners the Panthers have had in many seasons. A far cry from the situation just a year ago. The Panthers are very comfortable with Munnerlyn on the outside, giving them so much more flexibility this year.
Safeties (4) Kurt Coleman, Mike Adams, Dean Marlowe, Colin Jones. Many fans will be upset to see Colin Jones on this list, but until someone else steps up he will remain there. Coleman and Adams could be the best starting safety tandem in a decade.
SPECIAL TEAMS ( 3) Graham Gano, Andy Lee, JJ Jansen