This is not 'the sky is falling thread', this is just an honest look at our team.
Nationally, the only thing you hear about the Panthers is that they have zero wide receivers yadda yadda. This is a very superficial look at this squad, as you well know we are returning our number one receiving option from last year: Greg Olsen. Couple that with KB's incredible rookie performance thus far, the addition of savvy vets: Crotchery and Avant, and the elevated level of play from Bersin- we can all agree WR will be as good as last year if not better.
The O-line has gotten a lot of grief and attention this offseason, and rightly so. I have no doubt Gettleman is watching the waiver wire looking for decent players for depth right now. But we might just luck out with a serviceable starting line, provided we can stay healthy. We lucked out nabbing Trai Turner in the third, who by all accounts is going to be a stud. Amini was playing great last year prior to injury. Tackle is weak, but Bell has shown that he can play with the big boys- consistency will come with more reps. Chandler has proven just about everyone wrong and in a little over a year has switched from DT to OG to RT. Counting him out would seem foolish.
O-line isn't the worst unit on our team: safety is. Now before your jimmies get too rustled, the offensive line is MORE important than the safety unit, but good god does it look pitiful. I had high hopes for Lester this season, as he played pretty well sparingly last year, but man he looks to have regressed and is now injured. Anderson Russell has gotten beat consistently in the preseason. Harper has turf toe and with his age that sounds like an IR season. Collin Jones is a fantastic special teams player, but isn't an NFL safety. TBH haven't seen anything positive or negative from Decoud. So that gives us exactly one unknown at safety (Decoud) and a whole lot of nothing to straight up bad. You know it's rough when your best safety might be one that was never very good to begin with, is coming off an Achilles tear, and is trying to make the team as a nickel back.
I think Rivera really values a good player at the safety position. We were rumored to be a contender to sign Eric Weddle when Rivera first got here. Had he been on the board, we might have taken Mark Barron OVER Kuechly, and would have definitely taken him had Kuech gone to Tampa. We overdrafted Tre Boston, a decent prospect, but not a 4th round pick. Speaking of 4th round- is that the coaches round. Kugbila was apparently a coaches pick. So if Rivera values a good safety, does that mean his schemes depend on having a leader/playmaker there?
Last year, Mike Mitchell really stepped up for us at the safety position and our defense was all the better for it. Obviously we weren't going to be able to keep Mitchell, but if someone doesn't step up back there soon it's going to put a ton of pressure on our d-line and CBs.