As the NFL preseason comes to an end, the Carolina Panthers will be finalizing their roster. Now that there is one single cut down day, you can expect a day of complete chaos next week as surprise cuts find their new homes. As such, I will identify positions I feel the Panthers may target in the roster projection below.
Quarterbacks (3) – Cam Newton, Derek Anderson, Joe Webb. There have been calls for Webb to jump ahead of Anderson on the depth chart, but I don’t see it happening. However, if it ever did, there would be no reason to keep Anderson on the roster. He provides no value elsewhere, unlike Webb.
Running backs (3) – Jonathan Stewart, Christian McCaffrey, Cameron Artis-Payne. I still see Fozzy Whitaker being a casualty this year. Ron Rivera recently said that Artis-Payne was “part of the puzzle”. Fozzy has been a serviceable back but cannot fill in for both Stewart and McCaffrey. CAP can.
Fullback (2) Darrell Young, Alex Armah. The Carolina Panthers keep two fullbacks? I know it sounds crazy, but Armah has shown enough in preseason to deserve a jersey. Don’t think of it as two fullbacks, think of it as a starting fullback and a special teams player, much like the extra linebacker that is usually kept.
Offensive line (10) Matt Kalil, Andrew Norwell, Ryan Kalil, Trai Turner, Daryl Williams, Taylor Moton, Chris Scott, Tyler Larson, Amini Silatolu, Gino Gradkowski. Here is one group that could benefit from an experienced veteran free agent. The Panthers still need depth at offensive tackle. A waiver wire pickup could replace Gradkowski’s spot here.
Wide Receivers (5) Kelvin Benjamin, Devin Funchess, Curtis Samuel, Russell Shepard, Damiere Byrd. Keeping only five receivers makes sense as McCaffrey can fill in and probably be the second best target on the field behind Greg Olsen.
Tight Ends (3) Greg Olsen, Ed Dickson, Chris Manhertz. Here is another position to keep an eye on once cut downs happen. Manhertz has looked mediocre and would not be difficult to upgrade off waivers. For those of you wishing Dickson off the roster, so sorry. He is by far the Carolina Panthers best blocking tight end.
Defensive line (9) Charles Johnson, Kawann Short, Star Lotulelei, Julius Peppers, Vernon Butler, Mario Addison, Daeshon Hall, Eric Crume, Wes Horton. I have added Eric Crume here based on the amount of time he has had this preseason. The 330 pound defensive tackle has done a good job of anchoring the defensive line when needed.
Linebackers (6) Thomas Davis, Luke Kuechly, Shaq Thompson, David Mayo, Jeremy Cash, Jared Norris. Ben Jacobs loses his spot to fullback Alex Armah on special teams. The remaining six linebackers are the best unit in the NFL. Period.
Corners (5) James Bradberry, Daryl Worley, Captain Munnerlyn, Corn Elder, Teddy Williams. Not a perfect unit, but so much better off than at this point last season. No longer a weakness, closer to a strength.
Safeties (4) Kurt Coleman, Mike Adams, LJ McCray, Colin Jones. I have replaced Dean Marlowe with LJ McCray here. Free agent alert. It would not be difficult to improve on the depth here. I suspect the Carolina Panthers take a good long look at more than one safety option off of the waiver wire.
SPECIAL TEAMS ( 3) Graham Gano, Andy Lee, JJ Jansen. There has been some scuttlebutt surrounding Palardy making the team over Lee, but I don’t agree. The Panthers showcasing Palardy so much this preseason may be more of a showcasing of talent for trade potential. Solid young punters are not exactly easily found and quite a few teams could use one. Gano has won the kicking battle over Butker.
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